Why We Need Sustaining Friendships

Sustaining Friendship Part 1

[Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing a series by one of my friends and mentors, Ed Underwood, on sustaining friendships– a topic critical for our every day lives as Christians and for all those in leadership.]

Guest Post by Ed Underwood

In the early, early morning of Saturday, April 12, 2008 I was wrapping up my quiet time at my daughter’s home in Oregon. I checked my email and there it was, the sad news that Clyde Cook, the former President of Biola University, had died. Clyde was more than a university president to me, he was a beloved mentor. I went upstairs and told Judy. We prayed for his wife Anna Belle. I was deeply emotional as I emailed friends and says yes to Anna Belle’s request that I would be a part of the memorial service. Clyde had helped me through the challenges of leadership for over ten years. I just hadn’t thought about life without him being there, without being able to call him and say, “Dr. Cook, what do you think about this? What would you do if you were me?”

And suddenly I felt a lot more alone and my heart was heavy. I sat in the dark and cried.

I had already gone to three trusted spiritual resources: The Word of God, prayer, and my life-partner Judy.

But on that morning, I needed more. I turned to a trusted and reliable spiritual resource that has become more valuable to me every year, a spiritual resource that God has been nurturing in my life for four decades, a spiritual resource that has comforted me during my darkest days and has directed me through life’s most important decisions: Sustaining Relationships With A Few Trusted Friends.

I emailed my guys—a small group of intimate friends God–two in Oregon, one in Dallas, and one in Phoenix–and wrote these words:

Hi Guys–Since you men know my story and I feel so safe with you, I’m asking for a prayer that makes me feel selfish and shallow, but it’s the honest truth. Clyde Cook, one of only three older men who have loved me well and invested in my life, died suddenly yesterday. Please join the thousands praying for Anna Belle and the family. But, to you four, if you don’t mind praying for me, I could use it. I’m just sad and I will miss him profoundly. In the last twelve years since being in LA, Clyde has been my spiritual father in many ways. Thanks for praying, Ed.

They’re all busy, busy men. But over the next 24 hours, their overwhelming responses of emails, texts, and phone calls strengthened my hurting heart and encouraged my soul.

Every time I share that story with a group, someone says, “I want that kind of friendship. How can I find that kind of friend?”

Proverbs tells us to choose our friends wisely. In this short series titled, Sustaining Friendships, I want to help you choose the kind of friendships that bless me so greatly–sustaining friendships.

What do you feel are the characteristics of a sustaining friendship? 

Ed Underwood



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