Here’s what I think: guys need to get shaken out of their routine. This packed, busy schedule of work, family, maybe a little tv or social media before you go to bed, doesn’t leave much, or any, time to connect with friends. When we open our eyes, we’re aware of our isolation and see the epidemic of loneliness in men. And deep down, we want (and need) real friendships.
That’s why I’ve developed the concept of Level 5 Friendship, the ultimate tier of friendship. I’ll get into what that looks like through all of my work. Receive: The Way of Jesus for Men is a book I wrote that examines how men can RECEIVE their identity from Father God and use deep friendship as a catalyst for growth as men.
The “Lower Levels of Friendship”
Level 1 – Casual Friendship – This is a guy you’ve met and may or may not remember his name.
Level 2 – Basic Friendship – You act friendly, barely connect, and speak about the usual stuff on the surface level only.
Level 3 – Good Friendship – You’re close enough to joke around and open up a bit. There’s some trust…and some caution. He knows you, but nothing really deep or private.
Why is it important to mention these lower tiers? It reminds us just how many friendships in modern life fail to develop. We are a networking culture. People float through an open room, trying to make as many important connections as possible, trying to say the right thing to gain favor and avoid the wrong thing so they aren’t rejected.
I also bring these lower tiers up because some men never move past these levels. As men, we think that sharing our emotions is a sign of weakness. “We were taught for generations to focus on work, family and productivity. Don’t share what is really going on inside with other men,” says Michael Addis, a professor of psychology at Clark University and director of the Research Group on Men’s Well-Being.
We’re all too comfortable staying at the surface level and getting by. So how do you break out of these superficial levels and move into levels of depth and greater meaning? It’s going to take trust.
The “Higher Level of Friendship”
Level 4 – Strong Friendship – You trust each other. You talk about meaningful parts of your life. You’re open, but not completely open. A lot of guys, myself included, wonder, “How do I know if I can trust this guy? Is he going to look down on me or use something I tell him against me later?”
But instead of worrying about it, you can practice it and offer it.
Real, Deep, Intentional Level 5 Friendship
Ask your friend if he’d choose the type of loyal friendship you’re interested in that agrees to keep confidentiality and have each other’s back. You can build trust by following Jesus’ example of friendship Jesus.
Choose humility and the best interests of others like Jesus.
He listened to His Father for when and what to say and do to bring out the best in others.
Be non-judgmental like Jesus.
Remember how He hung out with the outcast sinners and saved the shamed woman from a blood-thirsty, judgmental crowd?
Be honest like Jesus.
Love was His motive for always speaking truth and never deceiving anyone. He showed the scars of His wounds to His friend Thomas.
Be empathetic like Jesus.
Aim to understand other’s stories and heart. Remember how Jesus saw his friends’ pain when their brother Lazarus died. Jesus wept—even though He knew He’d raise him from the dead.
Ask for help like Jesus.
He didn’t go through it alone—He always relied on His Father. He brought His three closest friends, Peter, James and John to the garden. He shared His heartache and prayer with them in His darkest time. Share your burden with friends, and always turn to God for help.
Be selfless like Jesus.
He always served His disciples—and He gave up His life so we could live eternally.
Be dependable like Jesus.
He looked out for His followers, building strong connections and teaching us how to have real communities based on love. And now, He gives us His unconditional love.
None of us will do this perfectly. But by focusing on being like Jesus, we get out of self-centered ways and catalyze real friendships.
Want to get started in a deep friendship? Download my free gift, the Level 5 Friendship Playbook.