Your Friendship: Is it Freely Offered, or Earned?

In the formative years when I wasn’t playing golf on Sunday, most of those afternoons were spent watching the finely covered major tournaments broadcast on CBS. Any sportsman will tell you the coverage of CBS’s Masters is among the classiest of television events.

best friends

October 17, 2009. They day I married my good friend.

From the play by play, to feature profiles, to the ceremonious passing of the green jacket, Jim Nantz, Verne Lundquist and Gary McCord captured viewers’ attention from tee to green.

Even the commercials were classy.

You need not be a died-in-the-wool fan to remember the 1970s Smith Barney commercial starring famous actor and producer John Houseman.  This line he delivered at the end of the commercial, is recalled three generations later, not only because of his brilliant delivery, but also because of the profound message it carried:

“Smith Barney. They make money the old-fashioned way…they earn it.”

Last night, Dana and I were discussing friends, friends of friends, and all the relational dynamics involved in what makes people “click.”

It started with the discussion about a friend of a friend who’d told his friend he knew I didn’t much care for him. Dana’s friend shared that news with her earlier this week, and she passed it on to me.

This is what Dana said she told her friend: “Steve’s not gonna just give his friendship away. It’s something he’ll (the friend of the friend) have to earn.”

Honestly, I’d never given that much thought to my life’s relationships, but I won’t deny its truth.

friends and sports relationships

This photo, taken in 1980, is my championship team that went 30-6. I love every one of these guys still today. The friendship among us was truly earned. I may never see some of them again, but I love every guy in the green and white … and coach Jim Ellis in the center.

I know a few friends who naturally lavish their love on others. I’ve always wished I could be more like those people. Perhaps it’s a personality flaw, or maybe it’s just a byproduct of life experiences, but after we had the conversation, I realized it’s true: I don’t just hand out free tickets to friendship. And you don’t change the way a 46-year-old man “is.”

fellowship bible church

This is Chuck Gschwend, a pastor at Fellowship Bible Church where I attend. He’s the single most loving man I know.

Most men I know don’t have a wide circle of friends. In fact, most are lucky if they truly have a good friend at all. And oftentimes, I think, we consciously choose to limit our circle of friends because of the value we place on the gift.

And for me, that’s precisely what friendship is – a gift. One to be thoughtfully given, and thankfully received.

The friend of the friend who told his friend I didn’t much care for him is a guy I’ve met twice. My recollection is that we talked about dogs, work and football. Chit-chat, it was for the most part. Nothing real.

The quality I admire most in any friendship is pure transparency. The freedom to share truth without fear of judgment. The freedom to fail without repercussion. The sanctity of knowing that even through the worst of times, a friend is a friend is a friend. It’s loyalty absent effort.

It’s precious and rare.

And it’s because of the precious value I place on true friendship that I write often about my best of friends. Dana is one. The other is a high school buddy and golfing parter who’s closer than a brother.

Brady and I have been friends for 34 years. We’ll be friends ’til we die.

relationships between men

My long-time buddy Brady Cornish – we talk almost every day, and shoot an occasional round of “extraordinary” golf.

Dana and I were acquaintances nine years before we married. In the first five years of our ‘relationship,”  she didn’t even like me that much. It took a long time for me to break down the barriers to see through to her heart, and she has the purest of hearts I know.

Sometimes I wish I loved people more. It’s what we’re called  to do, but it’s not easy is it?

Just wondering, how many “real” friends do you have, and what are the qualities you most admire in your best of friends?

Do you offer your friendship freely, or do others have to earn it?

In the spirit of John Houseman’s message, “Good friends don’t show up, bite you on the bottom and say, ‘Were here!'”

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Six Blog Post “Leads” That Will Lose Me in a Second

“Literature is the art of writing something that will be read  twice; journalism what will be grasped at once.” ~ Cyril  Connolly

LEAD (OR LEDE) –

A lead paragraph in literature refers to the opening paragraph of an article, essay, news story or book chapter. Often called just “the lead,” it writing for blogsusually occurs together with the headline or title. It precedes the main body of the article, and it gives the reader the main idea of the story. In the journalism industry, particularly in the United States the term is sometimes spelled lede. “Lede” refers to one or two sentences, not multiple paragraphs. Journalistic leads emphasize grabbing the attention of the reader. In journalism, the failure to mention the most important, interesting or attention-grabbing elements of a story in the first paragraph is sometimes called “burying the lead.”

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It’s a product of having come from the “old school” world of journalism, I suppose.

While pursuing an undergraduate degree in journalism, I was required to take an entire 18-week course on writing leads.

A beautifully crafted lead is a work of art. A substandard lead tarnishes every word that follows. Your lead is a “make or break” deal. Readers make an unconscious decision whether he will read on, or click off, after the first 30 words.

Here, I’ve written six leads that will lose me in a second. Some were published on WordPress today.

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1. “Hello people! Haven’t blogged in awhile because I’ve been busy up to my neck. I finally started working on Friday and it has been “fun” if I can call it that. My boss is absolutely the nicest man ever, my colleagues are equally awesome, there’s free wifi! What more can a sister ask for? Well along with the job came more  work.” (Well hello right back at you!!!!! I’ve been wondering where you were!!! You’ve been busy? Really!!!  That’s awesome. I have no idea what this post is trying to say.)

2. “If your (sic) wondering where I’ve been lately, life’s just been to (sic) busy to be on the blog.” (With two fundamental grammatical errors, and ending with a string of three consecutive prepositional phrases, I pass on this one quickly.)

3. “Here’s a collection of musings, rants and ramblings from the last week.” (I don’t have time for ramblings; if you’re going to rant, please do it without telling me so, because I’ll be much more inclined to read; and I have no idea what a ‘musing’ is.)

4. “The hubs and I had the most awesome lunch today!” (I’m thrilled you and ‘theBlogging tips hubs’ enjoyed your fare and that you were so compelled to end with a slammer, but I refer you to the author of this book, whose sentiments I could not share more.)

5. “Needless to say, I was scared to death, but when reality set in, I knew we’d make the best of it.” (Congratulations on setting the world record for most cliche’s in a single sentence.)

6. “Another week of me being semi-lazy…” (I actually found this one in my reader today. Oh, how it compels me to read more…)

Want more readers?

Write good leads.

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