Do your friends make you better?
Guys need a model of spiritual fitness in order to have spiritual friends. This point will only makes sense if we understand the different types of friendship that exist. Here is a summary.
First, there are friendships of pleasure. A group of golf buddies provides a classic example of this. Guys come together every weekend at a golf club to have a good time. However, the relationships are only as deep as the activity. If for some reason one guy stops playing golf due to injury or a change of interest, he might as well move to Timbuktu. No one hears from him; no one checks on him. The friendship wilts because it was planted - not in the soil of genuine interest in one another - but in the pleasure of a game.
Second there are friendships of utility. Here imagine a colleague that you talk to every day, but only because you need him or her to get a job done. If jobs changed, or you were shifted two cubicles over, this friendship would dry up like water spilt in the desert.
Third are friendships of affection. These are high school friends, college roommates, and any other people who are in your life, not due to pleasure or work, but because you actually enjoy them. Such friends could be good or evil. It does not matter. The friendships are not based on shared direction but on love and sympathy.
Finally there are spiritual friends. Spiritual friends share a vision of glory. The goal of such friendships is not to have fun, get stuff done, or reminisce. The friendship is about drawing near to goodness. A lot of guys struggle to understand what this might look like because a lot of guys don’t have spiritual friends. As an example, think about two Olympic sprinters who train together because they understand that each brings the best out of the other. Both define the good life as perfecting the art of running. They share life for one ultimate reason: to draw as close as possible to what both perceive as glory.
No asset is more important to spiritual fitness than spiritual friendship. The effect of a small circle of spiritual friends is to raise the thermometer of aspiration. Yet, such friendship is only possible if people share a common model of spiritual fitness. For good reason, a power lifter will not train with a gymnast. Each defines fitness differently. So it is with spiritual life. A band of brothers cannot support, encourage and admonish one another unless they are all headed in the same direction.