I’ve often talked about the friendship gap in men and how you can remove it in your life. Real friendship for guys seems to be at an all-time low.
We need to overcome the isolating influences of our technology-shaped and individualistic society.
Let’s go back to the original design. What about when everything was perfect? In the Garden of Eden, Adam was created without flaw and had not yet fallen from God—but still missing was something. “It is not good for man to be alone, God said” (Gen. 2:18). If a perfectly created man was designed for and needed friendship, how much more do we?
Our society can make you feel like a loser if you’re missing out on friendships. Or you might tell yourself that you’re doing just fine. You’re self-driven and have a huge network from work, your fantasy league, and a group of gamers. You may be Mr. Family, keeping busy with the kids, their sports and your house or yard…leaving no time for consistent friendship. But in reality, you’re missing something we’re all designed for, friendship.
The 5 Levels of Friendship
Level 1 – Casual Friendship – A guy you’ve met and may or may not remember his name.
Level 2 – Basic Friendship – You act friendly, barely connect, and only talk about the usual surface-level stuff.
Level 3 – Good Friendship – You’re close enough to joke around.. There’s some trust, but also some caution so you’ll only open up a bit. He knows a few things about you, but nothing really deep or private.
Level 4 – Strong Friendship – You trust each other. You’d call the other guy in a 2 am crisis. You occasionally talk about meaningful parts of your life, but aren’t in touch consistently…
Sadly, some guys don’t have a Level 3 friend and many men don’t have a level 4 friend. That’s reflected in surveys that show 76% of men don’t have a close and trusted friend they can share anything with. Modern life can keep a guy digitally occupied with work and entertainment, but effectively isolated, lonely, and unknown. But realize this, Levels 3 and 4 are the building blocks to develop the highest level friendships – Level 5.
Level 5 requires consistency and authenticity that are out of place and uncommon in our culture. Insecurity and fear make men uncomfortable going there. But it’s the kind of friendship that Jesus modeled. The kind of friendship we were designed to have.
Mike Woodruff is a friend, pastor, and author on friendship. He points out:
- We are wired for friends.
- Life is better with friends.
- Good friends raise us up.
- When it comes to friends, we must be intentional.
Here’s what that looks like as a level of friendship…
Level 5 – Deep Friendship
These guys talk about and establish trust. They add a purposeful commitment to meet and consistently connect. They talk about the important stuff in life, struggles, mess-ups and stresses, all while processing their future plans ahead of time, erasing secrets and praying for each other. Level 5 Friends grow in honesty and accountability as they pull each other closer to God.
Do you have any friendships that look like this? You can… but they don’t happen by accident.
A purposeful commitment to meet and consistently connect. For many men, sports, military and team-oriented businesses are the closest thing to replicating something like Level 5 Friendship. We had that consistent connection in the NFL.
Purposeful commitment? My closest friends and I take the same approach to our committed friendships that my NFL teams used to take to seeking a championship season. We commit. We’re loyal. We trust and we sacrifice to be honest and together.
Consistency? We had a game every Sunday. Every week, we put in the time and effort to prepare and excel. That made winning likely, and it’s the same with friendship.
Connect? If you didn’t communicate consistently and honestly about the reality we were facing, there was no way we were getting in the endzone.
Find Your Level 5 Friends
You can enjoy those bonds of camaraderie again. As followers of Jesus, we’re a team with crucial upcoming games. We have a mission—to honor and represent Jesus by living in His love and excellence. We can’t do it alone. We’re designed for teamwork.
That’s why I have a verb for Level 5 Friendship – huddling. Every week my closest out-of-town buddies and I huddle by Zoom for about an hour. Connecting frequently to process and pray over their lives together is a common trait of men from all walks of life who enjoy and benefit from Level 5 Friendship. It keeps us real, encouraged, and closer to each other and to God.
Want to get started in a deep friendship? Download my free gift, the Level 5 Friendship Playbook.