As you could infer from my last post, it has been a rough few days of fatigue and “re-entry” into Asia. Nothing cataclysmically bad, but tough nonetheless.
I just finished meeting with a friend over coffee. He is a local Asian friend who is a committed follower of Christ and works in finance. We meet together semi-regularly simply as friends and fellow Christians. We are the same age, so that is nice for both of us. He is married to a wonderful woman and has a fun little child.
I entered into the time with my friend tired and depleted. I exited the time energized and filled with a grateful heart. My friend has truly and genuinely encouraged me.
Upon driving back to my apartment (where I am now), I keep thinking about all that happened during this short one hour time at Starbucks which has taken my soul from “meh” to “yes!!!”.
As I am sitting here processing the time, I realize that he did about everything you can do to build me up as his friend and brother in Christ. In the process, I clearly see principles in encouraging those around me, simply by emulating how my friend has encouraged me today.
- Initiate – I was literally in the airport the other night JUST back from my marathon trip to the States. After taking out my US sim card and replacing it with my Asian one, I was immediately inundated with text message advertisements from local telephone companies and other such service. Then came one from my friend. . . “Hello, brother! Are you back yet? Can we have coffee together?” It made me feel good to have this greet me upon arrival. Initiating with others is a great way to encourage and build them up.
- Have no agenda, but rather simply seek sharpening fellowship – There is a place for asking favors and needing something from friends. However, it’s nice when people simply want to spend time with you for the sake of simple fellowship. Today was such a time.
- Enter in – My friend immediately asked the condition of my spirit. “How are you spiritually?” He literally pulled out his small prayer notebook and began taking notes. He asked about my trip, family, and physical health. He asked about my spiritual condition. In a word, my friend “entered in” to my life. He did so out of honest concern for me as his brother in Christ and affection for me as his friend.
- Be vulnerable – My friend then opened up about his own life and concerns. He is a man who desperately desires to be a good husband and father. He wants to lead his church well and make an impact at his work place upon those in his sphere of influence. Today he opened up and shared of failures on his part. He wants my prayers and lets me know he NEEDS my prayer and friendship. It is easy to trust him, as he clearly trusts me.
- Point your friend to Christ – Ultimately life is about fellowship and unction with our Savior and God, Christ Jesus. My friend knows this and ALWAYS is there to point me towards Jesus. Friendship for the sake of friendship is shallow and will leave you wanting. Friendship as fellow sojourners pointing each other towards Christ and His work in the world will only grow in strength and joy. My friend pointed me towards Christ today and I appreciate it with my entire being.
- Pray . . . and mean it – Before returning to work, right there in the midst of a crowded Starbucks, my friend then did what encouraged me the most. He prayed for me. He prayed in his own language and with heartfelt earnestness. He begged the Lord’s grace and provisions for me. He prayed for my heart, protection, and vision. He prayed for me a wife (like he always does!). I followed by doing the same for him (not the wife part) and his family.
- Sacrifice for each other – My friend is a very highly placed professional in a fairly high stress vocation. His time is both scarce and valuable. As he put his suite coat back on and scurried out of the Starbucks door to make it back to his office in time for his afternoon meeting, I thought about his sacrifice to meet with me. He is in demand in many ways and circles. Just in our hour of coffee, three different people came up to him to say hello. He requests to meet with me every other week to do exactly what we did today. We meet, share, encourage, advise, and then pray for each other. He sacrifices time for me, as do I for him. I am grateful for the sacrifice he has made over the past several years to build into our unlikely friendship, and I think he feels the same towards me. Any great relationship, whether between spouses, parents to children, or friends requires sacrifice.
Today I am reminded of how to be a true friend through the sacrifice of time and energy my friend granted to me today. He could have done a million other worthwhile things today during his lunch break, but he chose to invest it in our friendship.
For this I am grateful and I am truly encouraged.