The Amazing Benefit of Friendships & How to Build Them

When David was in despair and running for his life from King Saul, his dear friend Jonathan knew he had to visit David and encourage him. At this low point in his life, Jonathan “helped him find strength in God” (1 Sam. 23:16). Friendships are valuable for many things, but their value shines forth most brilliantly in the trying times of life.

Alan Loy McGinness in his book The Friendship Factor recounts a time where he was counseling a woman who was struggling with a variety of issues. He asked her, do you have a friend with whom you can share these things? She said that she did. They ended up agreeing that this friendship was sufficient for her and that he did not need to see her. That’s the amazing benefit of a good friendship.

Do you have people with whom you can share your struggles? Very often, people today seem to have less close friends with whom they can share their struggles (see some statistics on this and some helpful thoughts on it in the article here). We’ve got more Facebook “friends” than ever, but it seems that people keep more of their struggles to themselves than ever before. Why is that?

In my view, it is because relationships and friendships take time to develop. Aristotle said, before you can have a friend, you need to eat a pound of salt. You’ve eaten together so many times that the little bits of salt you added to your meals add up to a pound. It takes a long time. 

For many people, college is the time when they make some solid friendships. I certainly did. One reason for that is that I ate meal after meal with a small group of people and regularly with many others. Over time, we talked and developed strong friendships. I didn’t set out to do this. It just happened.

After college, we ask, why can’t I make good friends? We forget that we ate a pound of salt with our college of friends, and so we don’t realize the investment required to build good friendships. In order to build friendships, you have to make them a priority and put in the time. If we don’t see the time it takes to make a friendship, we won’t make the time investment that we need in order to build a friendship.

So, where do you start? Probably the worst way is to go around saying: “Will you be my friend”? It’s ironic, but you can’t make friends by trying.

You have to come alongside people and find common interests. The Catholic theologian Josef Pieper put it well:

Friends do not gaze at each other, and totally unlike erotic lovers they are not apt to talk about their friendship. Their gaze is fixed upon the things in which they take common interest. That is why, it has been said, people who simply wish for a “a friend” will with fair certainty not find any. To find a friend you first have to be interested in something (43).

Start with things you are interested in. Think broadly here: family, church, history, gardening, baseball. Then, enjoy these things with other people and talk about them. Over time, you will find that some of the people you do these things with will become friends.

Friendship starts with common interest but move beyond it. The common interest and side by side fellowship develops a camaraderie that knits our souls together (1 Sam. 18:1) and connects people even to the children and grandchildren of our friends (2 Sam. 9:1). But warning: you can’t short circuit this process or demand it. It has to happen organically.

One reason that friendships become so strong is because over time you go through trials together. Some of these trials are tests to the relationship itself. Some of these trials are outside the relationships. No doubt Peter loved Jesus all the more after Jesus forgave Peter for denying him. It’s strange, but the relationship was stronger for the failing.

By the end of Jesus’ life on earth, He and His disciples had been through a lot together. Jesus said, “You are those who have stood by me in my trials” (Luke 22:8). This had forged a deep bond between them. “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends . . .”

Having friends who walk with us is one of life’s great blessings. It’s not impossible or unattainable. You just have to recognize that friendships take time, and that you must make the time for them. There’s no shortcut. Like most good things in life, friendships require a significant investment. 


Great Grandma Lindsey’s Spaghetti

I wish I had gotten to know more of my Great Grandparents. I would love to be able to sit down with them now and listen to their stories. I would love to be in their presence and experience what they are like.

Great Grandma Betty Lindsey with Great Grandpa William McKinley Lindsey and son Tom

I’ve always felt an attachment to the Grandparents I know. At a young age, I remember travelling with my Grandpa to Pennsylvania. While we drove, he told me the story of Robinson Crusoe, and I loved every moment of it.

I also had opportunities to get to know some of my Grandparents that I squandered. Several lived for a long time, and I never made a move to get to know them better. I regret that.

My Paternal Grandmother, Betty Lindsey Babb, died before I was born. Her Father, William, My Great Grandfather, died a year later. My Great Grandma Betty Lindsey had died three years earlier in 1972.

In 2017, I began to look into my family history in earnest. This led me to seek out the descendants of William and Betty. The last of their 9 children died just as I began to do this research.

When I contacted the wife of William and Betty’s son George, I learned a lot. What she mentioned to me was that she always enjoyed being at William and Betty’s family. She remembered very clearly the smell of garlic because Betty was always making spaghetti.

I asked my own Father, who had lived with William and Betty for a time, if he remembered the spaghetti. “Oh yeah.” He said. “That’s probably one reason I don’t like spaghetti today. We ate it all the time!”

As I asked around, people always mentioned Great Grandma’s spaghetti. It was the most prominent and constant theme.

Over Christmas, I was finally able to sit down with a group of the descendants of Tom Lindsey, William and Betty’s oldest (the baby in the picture above). We talked about memories of the past, and, inevitably, Great Grandma Lindsey’s spaghetti came up. One of Tom’s daughters told me, “I have the recipe, if you want it.”

“Absolutely!” I replied. Then, I listened carefully as she told me the details.

“You start by frying up some bacon.” She began. “Then, you leave the bacon grease in the frying pan and take out the bacon for later.”

A good start! I thought.

“Chop up onion and garlic and sautée them in the pan. Once you’ve done that, you add tomato juice. After mixing the tomato juice, you crumple up the bacon and put it back into the sauce. Then, there’s one more thing. They always had fried chicken with the spaghetti.” She said.

Fridays are my day to cook. On a Friday in January, I decided I would make Great Grandma Lindsey’s spaghetti. Step by step, I followed the directions. The only way I modified the spaghetti was to add a little bit of tomato paste. I needed less than I thought because the sauce was thicker than I thought. I warmed up the fried chicken to go with it.

And it was good! I love spaghetti. This was different than any spaghetti that I had eaten, but it was still good. My daughter described it this way: “I like it, but it’s more Southern than Italian.”

As I prepared the spaghetti and served it to my family, I could imagine sitting at Great Grandma Lindsey’s table with a plate of spaghetti and fried chicken and the house filled with the aroma of garlic. Somehow, I felt closer to her than I had before.

Great Grandma Lindsey with two of her sons


On a Saturday morning, I was in the middle of the longest run of my life: 9+ miles. I was running up Veteran’s Boulevard in Pigeon Forge, TN back to my home in Sevierville. I had completed about half of the run when I realized I had to go to the bathroom. So, I stopped at one of the very few places where I could do that: the Burger King across from Dollywood. As I left Burger King, I started running and saw a man, presumably a tourist, taking a little dog out a minivan. Apparently, the dog thought it was a good place to use the restroom, too. This made me ask myself something I’ve often pondered. Why in the world would people want to have to take care of a little dog on their vacation? It just seems so inconvenient. Then, I had a realization that made me have a change of heart.

That change of heart began about a year ago. A young man gave my 2nd daughter a gift: a beta fish. This was the first pet that our family had ever had. My wife and I have seven children. That’s enough. We’ve always thought. We don’t need to add any pets to to this mix. Feeding seven kids is expensive enough. This decision was not based solely on costs in time and money. My wife is allergic to cats, and my oldest daughter is allergic to dogs. This provided a very effective excuse for not purchasing a pet.

But what about a fish? No one was allergic to a beta fish, as far as we knew. Even if they were, they would probably be OK, as long they didn’t eat him. In fact, it all turned out fine. Draco was a quiet resident of our house, and I don’t think I gave him another thought until December of last year.

Over Christmas break, my wife and kids traveled to Michigan to visit her family. I stayed home to work. For the first time, my daughter asked me if I would take care of her fish. She would put him upstairs, and all I had to do was feed him twice a day. I hesitated to make such a week-long commitment, but I love my daughter and so agreed.

The first couple times I fed Draco, I didn’t linger very long. Then, I started to observe him. He was a beautiful fish. I found it interesting that he seemed to know I was feeding him and came to the top to get the food. I was surprised at how much pleasure I got out of watching this fish.

Unfortunately, a month later, Draco died. I hope it wasn’t the way I fed him. Nobody knows for sure. I was sad to see him go.

This might have concluded the pet chapter in our family’s story, but the passion of my oldest and third daughters for mammalian pets had hatched a scheme to bring them into our home. They made preparations. They purchased a cage. They saved their money. They bought supplies. Then, the day came: two tiny guinea pigs! Ginny and Bella.

Here were two pets that you could hold, interact with, and actually pet. The kids loved them. I had to admit, they were cute.

Five of our kids inhabit the four bedrooms in our basement. They placed the guinea pigs’ cage in a large hallway that connects the rooms. So, when you came down the stairs, you would encounter the guinea pigs. The location of the guinea pigs meant that I would pass by them every time I descended the stairs to talk to one of my children.

At first, Bella and Ginny were startled every time someone came down. They would scurry into their tiny “house” and wait for you to depart or the light to switch off. Eventually, they grew a little bolder. They would carefully watch you, but with the slightest move toward them, they would scamper back into the house or behind it.

Then, we discovered how to make friends with them, which is basically the same way you make friends with humans. Food! I would offer them hay, and they would slowly approach me and eat it out of my hands. It gave me great pleasure to interact with these cute little furballs. I enjoy them both, but Bella is particularly beautiful. It’s OK to have favorites with guinea pigs, right?

Back to my realization. As I saw that little dog at Burger King, I thought of Bella. I thought of how much I enjoyed her, and I understood a little bit of why someone would take that little dog on a long trip and stop to walk them around and let them go potty. You get attached to these creatures. I even thought, one day, hopefully many years from now, Bella will die, and I’m sure I will shed tears.

All that went through my head as I ran past that man and his dog. That man and me, the two of us, fellow pet owners, comrades in the world of pets. But . . . there’s still no way I’m getting a little dog.

The Benefit of Respecting Your Husband and Loving Your Wife

Just mentioning that wives should respect their husbands can be controversial. Who is a guy to think that he can tell women what they should do? What is the basis for telling wives that they should respect their husbands, let alone submit to them?

The basis is the Bible. The Apostle Paul wrote, “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband” (Eph. 5:33).

One irony of this verse is that when Paul wrote it, there was nothing less controversial than the idea that wives should respect and submit to their husbands. Everyone would have agreed with that. What would have seemed strange was the idea that the husband should love his wife and cherish her.

Today, the situation is reversed. The idea of a husband loving his wife is a no-brainer. The idea that a wife should respect her husband unconditionally seems strange and even wrong.

Yet there it is: husbands, love your wives. Wives, respect your husbands.

One reason that people may fear the language of unconditional respect is fear that husbands will misuse that respect and even abuse their wives. The problem with this perspective is what Dr. Emerson Eggerichs noted in his book Love and Respect. There are marriages where there are people of bad will. In such cases, the marriage may have to end. In cases of abuse, the spouse should draw clear boundaries and certainly seek safety where his or her life or health is threatened. What Dr. Eggerichs noted, however, was that many marriages of people of good will end as well. He wondered, why should this be the case?

This led him as a Pastor and Counselor to consider the verse that we just cited, Ephesians 5:33.

He then asked, why does it tell the husband and the wife to do two different things? Why the focus on love for the husband and respect for the wife? Continue reading “The Benefit of Respecting Your Husband and Loving Your Wife”

A Help Meet for Her

Would you take a bullet for your wife? “Yes!” is the answer most husbands would emphatically and unequivocally give.

Would you be willing to get closer to your wife, take care of the kids, or clean the toilets? Not so much.

Let’s be honest, men. The first is natural to us. We will provide and protect, but getting close to our wives in a way that is meaningful to them or helping them in the domestic sphere is not as natural or easy.

It is easy for a man in particular to get focused on the work world and the development of his skills in the world. It is easy to forget that as married people, we are there not only to get support in our own work but to give support to our wives in the development of their life in the world.

The Old King Jimmy describes Eve as a “help meet” for Adam. What that means is that Eve fit with Adam. She was a great partner to help him with the tasks that God had given him.

It is important to note, however, that Adam was also a “help meet” for Eve. He was a great partner to help her with the tasks that God had given her. As The Westminster Confession of Faith (the historic confession of the Presbyterian Church) puts it: “Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife . . .” (24.1). Continue reading “A Help Meet for Her”