Because I’m a product of good friendships, friends who are selfless, who can sacrifice their time, energy and resources, friends who have learnt over time to have your own needs at heart while also bearing theirs, friends who sticks more closer than siblings or family, friends who in their ranks of prayer list have your request(s) as a top priority. Truly, friendship is a blessing and especially to those who know the true worth and value of having one.
Friendships like this don’t just spring up in the space of months, deeper levels of friendship take a process of time and years to be sincere. These are friendships that didn’t start from what can I get from this person? but rather what can I contribute to this friendship? Friendship in the context of my line of thought cut across any kind of relationship you can think of.
There are many of us that have lost relationships (friends) who today are influential men and women in the society because several years ago we had the opportunity of becoming friends with them but the first question that came to mind was what can I get from this person?, we sized them in our minds and passed a vote of no confidence on them because to us they were not looking like prospects. And there are some of us, we just have the habit of keeping these prospects in one corner, not because we genuinely want to build friendship but because we see them as people who will become influential someday, so we want to maintain contact so just in case they get into their promised land they won’t forget to share with us the good of the land.
There’s nothing wrong in keeping contact with people, but your motive must be set right. It is as if our minds have been wired to see “friends” who we perceive to becoming influential someday as a way of securing our own future. So, we try as much as possible to maintain contact with such individuals primarily because of what we perceive they will become. I have had some folks tell me “make sure you hold that guy tight oh, you know he is from a wealthy background”, and I will be like “should I force myself into their life?”. It’s as if these days people are more concerned with becoming friends with those that are at the top, but the interesting thing is that, those at the top they know that people want to know them, not because of friendship sake but because of position sake. I have come to understand that there are friends you meet at the top and there are friends who will genuinely follow you to the top. It is now left for you to discern how to prioritize friendship.
True friendship will ask what can I contribute to this friendship even when I don’t have anything to benefit from it? It’s not that the other party does not have something to offer, but you just didn’t come with the mindset of collecting but giving. I believe we all have something to give.
When Jesus started His earthly ministry, He chose for Himself twelve disciples that followed Him everywhere He went, preaching about the Kingdom. While Jesus was busy preaching about this Kingdom, some of His disciples were busy contemplating what position they want to occupy in that Kingdom. It was as if they were more concerned about the position than the work. We see in Mark 10:35-37 “Then James and John…came to him ‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask…let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory’”. We see also in Matt.19:27 Peter’s response to following Jesus “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”. At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, these disciples were more concerned about their position in the Kingdom than the work, they were more concerned about what they will benefit having left all to follow Him. But over time, their mindset began to shift from one seeking position to one willing to become a servant, from one seeking to gain to one willing to give all including their lives. They had an encounter of what it means to be a friend that altered their mindset.
Your primary motive of entering any friendship should not be because of something you want to benefit but rather something you want to give. The giving precedes the benefits. This giving is just like an investment we are making into the friendship, of which in due time it will speak. This kind of giving has no intention of getting anything in return but to see the friendship grow. This is a giving that comes from a heart full of love. An example of this kind of giving is demonstrated in the Scriptures, of how God demonstrated His love for mankind. The apostle Paul in Romans 5:6&8 made this known to us “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly…God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (emphasis added). This is just about the purest form of friendship. He died for us even when He had nothing to benefit from us! What a friend truly we have in Jesus. He said “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends…I no longer call you servants…I have called you friends” (see John 15:13&15). Because he laid down His life for His friends without looking back, we are also compelled by His love to lay down our life for him. If he could give up everything just to come for you, how ready are you to give up everything just to go for him?
This is a kind of friendship where you begin with the end in mind. The Father knows that not everyone will come in terms with the sacrifice of His Son but yet He didn’t withhold Him, He gave us freely! And there are some of you, because of a little help you rendered to a friend, you expect them to reciprocate. What if the person doesn’t? you will stop, right? Friends without benefit know that, even though I’m not getting the feedback I desire now, I will keep making the investments because soon they will encounter something that will alter their mindset and make them realize that they are receiving more than they are giving! When they get to this point, don’t be surprised, they may end up giving much more than they’ve received.
This is how friendship is built, not on the grounds of benefits but on the grounds of giving. Can we just be friends without benefits?