Our Friends Are a Good Forecast for Our Future

The following article by Pastor Bryan Loritts is reposted with permission. The original, “A Happy Few,” along with many other excellent articles, can be seen on his website.

–Chris Pappalardo, Editor

“Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future,” was one of the first things I told my son Myles over breakfast the other day. It’s his senior year, and with his aspirations to go to some faraway place for college, I am already feeling sad. He doesn’t quite grasp how much things are about to change, but I do, and I want to make the most of what will probably be his last season in our home. So every week I’m giving him some parting shots. It’s my attempt to reinforce lessons I’ve tried to teach him along the way.

The most recent lesson is on friendship, and how our friends are often a good forecast for our future.

In between bites of Myles’ usual—chocolate chip pancakes—I asked him to tell me what he knew about Samson and David. What did they have in common? Both were leaders. Both were killers. And both had a weakness for women, a weakness that led both to failure. Yet David is able to arise from his failure with Bathsheba, while Samson is made a spectacle by his enemies and ultimately dies in captivity.

“Tell me the difference, Myles? Why did one come out of it and the other die in it?”

After a few moments of silence, I answered my own question with another:

“Tell me about David’s male friends.”

Myles spoke of Jonathan, and we talked about all the men David hung with in caves, war, expeditions, and on the run.

“And who were Samson’s male friends?”


I’ve seen a lot of men wreck their lives. It’s heartbreaking, and it’s scary because I am no better. I’ve seen many pastors even allow a pattern of sin to stain a lifetime’s worth of work. If you were to ask me what the common denominator was to just about all of these failures, especially among leaders, I’d say without hesitation they had no friends. Oh sure, they talked about their “friends.” And I’ve been introduced as their “friend” only to think, “No we’re not. We talk maybe once a year.” Too many times I’ve found myself thinking on my way to the stage right after they’d introduced me as their friend, “If that’s friendship, you’re in bad shape.”

In his book, A Resilient Life, Gordon MacDonald talks a lot about friendship, or what he calls a “happy few”:

“The older we get, the more we come to understand the inestimable value of the ‘happy few,’ that inner circle of intimate friends who will always be there long after the lights of the fast and glamorous life have been extinguished. The ‘happy few’ may be the most important treasure one will ever possess this side of heaven. Resilient people know this from experience.”

If the Bible, prayer, God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit were all we needed in life, then why did God look at Adam and say it’s not good for him to be alone, and then create Eve to be his companion? Why do we read in the Scriptures that to isolate ourselves is equivalent to foolishness? Tell me, why are there over a hundred “one another” verses in the New Testament? And why did Jesus have his happy few of Peter, James, and John?

Friendship is one of the deepest and most pervasive longings of our hearts. Maintaining friendships can be one of the deepest and most pervasive frustrations of our hearts.

Over the years with my happy few, I’ve found the following to be helpful in nurturing friendships:

  1. Fish in the right pond. Most of my friendships were found in church or Christian environments. We met in places like small groups, Sunday school classes, and retreats. Friendships rally around the deepest bonds, and there is no bond deeper than faith in Jesus.
  2. Be slow to enter into friendships and even slower to exit.
  3. Don’t keep score, but don’t take a beating. Of course there have been many stretches in friendship where I’ve had to give more than I received, but in the overall picture, my friends have been life-giving, not life-taking.
  4. Realize most friendships are but for a season. Your happy few are friends who transcend moves, job transitions, geography, and seasons of life. They’re called a “happy few,” for a reason.
  5. Make more deposits than withdrawals.

I pray God gifts Myles (along with my other sons) great friends—life-giving friends. His future counts on it, and so does ours.