Real friendships make us a better man, prevent many of the dumb things we do, and improve the important things we do in life.
I know you’re busy. Most of us are. We have all sorts of stuff going. Some of us have a business phone full of too many emails and texts as well. Some of us are busy traveling. Most of us check a steady stream of social feeds—Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook—rinse…recycle…repeat. Maybe you’re the guy who enjoys a recreational sport when you can.
Maybe your version of busy has doubled now that you’re a husband or a dad. And as an owner of a home, there’s always something that needs fixing or at least maintenance. Oh, and if your kids are in sports, then you’re too busy to anything I mentioned my first paragraph.
Despite all of that, you don’t feel as strong as you would have expected. Maybe you’ve made compromises and slid into negative habits. On top of all of this, you might be realizing that, even though you’re so busy, you’re actually lonely. You miss those days when you had a best friend—someone you spent a bunch of time with, really knew you, and actually had time to be around you.
Guess what? You’re not alone. In fact, it’s been declared an “Epidemic of Loneliness.” Fifteen years ago, researchers started noticing a shift in our social fabric. The US Surgeon General recently declared it a public health crisis. Here are just a few stats:
Four in 10 Americans say they don’t have a best friend at all (a 25 percent increase since 1990).
76 percent of men don’t have a close and trusted friend they can share anything with.
SuccessMagazine reports that 61 percent of young adults (age 18-25) feel “serious loneliness.”
Don’t worry, I won’t go on further about this discouraging stuff. Instead, I’m going to focus on what you and I really want. Friendship. Real friendships make us a better man, prevent many of the dumb things we do, and improve the important things we do in life.
How do you make these deep bonds?One study reported becoming a best friend takes 300 hours of togetherness. Racking up those hours takes a lot of intention. In fact, I’d argue it’s more about the intentionality than the amount of time.
My friend Dave and I hit it off, we developed a deep friendship after only four calls. I didn’t even meet Dave in person until a couple of months ago, but we’ve been connecting over zoom. We withhold nothing from each other and pray about everything. We are intentional, that’s the big difference maker.
He's a Level 5 friend. Level 5 friendship is a concept that came to me while reading Good to Great, a brilliant business leadership book by Jim Collins. In it, he highlights the traits shared among most influential leaders, what he called “Level 5 leaders.” I realized you could apply the same tiers to types of friendships.
Level 5 friends are in it for the long haul. I’ve been benched, traded, cut, and seen my football career go pitch black. I’ve had to fire myself from the non-profit I started. I saw my dad die of cancer. My daughter-in-law underwent brain surgery for a tumor. Sharing my troubles with friends didn’t only lessen the burden, it bonded us together.
Over the course of the next few weeks, I’ll cover each Friendship Level and how you can take a friendship to the next level. Of course, this type of friendship is not my idea. Like everything good, it started with and belongs to Jesus. Deep transformative friendship is the essential way Jesus lived and worked with men. He changed the world by calling twelve working dudes to be His friends, grew them into friends of each other, and sent them out as teams of brothers.
So, join me as I outline the way to leave all the busyness and isolation behind and live as a man the way Jesus showed us.
Jeff Kemp was an NFL Quarterback and has extensively been involved in ministry, coaching, speaking and team building since his professional sports retirement. Jeff and his wife, Stacy, have been married 35 years and mentor young couples. They have four married sons and love tennis, skiing, and spending time with family. Find out more about Jeff and his ministry at his website.