How to Build Sustaining Relationships: Commitment

Sustaining Friendships Commitment

Guest Post by Ed Underwood
[This post is Part 2 of a 5 Part series, Sustaining Friendships]

We all want them–sustaining relationships, those friends I talked about in Part 1 of this series. Even as kindergartners, our little hearts longed for a friend we could depend on. We need people who won’t let us down at the precise moment when we need them most. These people must be out there, because God put this huge need in our heart to meet them.

Just when we think we have one, they disappoint us. Over the years we become jaded. Maybe that’s just the way it is. Friendship in this hurtful world is always conditioned on two dark bargains. 1. If this friendship is helpful to me, then I will be your friend. If you doubt this one, just spend a few minutes on Facebook and Twitter. 2. If this friendship validates me–my opinions, my defenses, and my behaviors, then I will be your friend. We’ve all had that friend who turned on us when the relationship hit the white water.

The Book of Proverbs tells us that this shouldn’t surprise us. “A person who has friends may be harmed by them, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (18:24, NET Bible). So there’s the contrast–friends can hurt us, but there is that friend we can depend on.

The best thing we can do to find a different kind of friend, that friend our heart longs for, is to be that kind of friend. I can only take responsibility for my part of the relationship. If I’m going through life demanding that someone love me well, chances are I’m going to be running with others who are making the same demand. Sooner or later I have to give up on what I’m looking for and start being the friend others are looking for. Just start being the kind of friend you want to find and life will sort it out. If you’re a Christian, tell God you want to be that kind of friend and trust Him to bring you a like-hearted friend.

As I read through the Book of Proverbs, the first quality I want my friends to see in me is commitment to the relationship.

Committed friendships don’t fall apart during turbulent times but become stronger because of mutual loyalty. Again, from the Proverbs:

The poor man is hated even by his own neighbor, but the rich has many friends(14:20). All the brothers of the poor hate him; How much more do his friends go far from him! He may pursue them with words, yet they abandon him (19:7).

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity (17:17). A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother(18:24). Do not forsake your own friend or your father’s friend (27:10).

A committed friendship is what I call the drop-everything, eye-contact type of friendship.

I need to be that friend who drops everything when I’m needed. Remember, these aren’t everyday friendships. These are those few friends that you know will drop their lives to come to your side. When I almost died in 2000, two of my sustaining friends got on planes and flew to SoCal to be near me. One of them virtually pastored my church during that dark weekend and the other assured me he would take care of my bride financially if I died.

I need to be that friend who makes the eye-contact only a sustaining friend can make. Like this scene from the movie Tombstone when Doc Holliday caught Wyatt Earp’s eye. “Nobody else notices your need right now, my friend, but I’m all over it.”

That’s what you want to look for in a sustaining relationship–commitment. But before you go looking, be that type of friend.

Questions: What am I missing? Does the drop-everything, eye-contact definition of commitment in friendship make sense to you?

Ed Underwood

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