How many places have you worked? How many churches have you been a member of? How many schools have you graduated from? Over the course of your life, how many friends have you had, and how many of those friends are you still in touch with? Old friends are valuable treasures. They have walked with you through various stages of your life, and they know you not only as you are now, in your position of leadership, of authority, prestige or power. They also knew you back when, and they know the real you, the person who will survive (we hope!) your years of ministry leadership. Here is yet another poem from that wonderful book I am reading, a poem at a time, Leading from Within: Poetry That Sustains the Courage to Lead.
Benefits of long term friends
The Lover pleads with his Friend for Old Friends
by William Butler Yeats
Though you are in your shining days,
Voices among the crowd
And new friends busy with your praise,
Be not unkind or proud,
But think about old friends the most:
Time’s bitter flood will rise,
Your beauty perish and be lost
For all eyes but those eyes.
While in leadership, many will be friends with you not for who you are but for the position, power, or wealth you control and what that means to them. Your longtime friends have seen you in different circumstances, know you for who you really are, and still want to be friends with you. Don’t cast them off!! What attracts people to you in your prime will not last and then you are left with nothing if you have no old friends.
When my mother died at 68 years of age, she was still best friends with a woman she met when she was 3 years old. That makes me want to rekindle some old friendships!
I wonder sometimes about ministry leaders who get a lot of attention and then retire. How does their world change? Or does it? Let me know what you think.
Value of old friends
I can’t believe I’m going to quote him, because, well, because I’m not a teeny-bopper girl, but he said a very wise thing, so I’ll quote him anyway. And besides, just using his name will bring millions of tomorrow’s leaders to my blog! Justin Bieber said “I have so many people to help me stay grounded and humble – people that aren’t gonna just say I’m amazing 24/7, people that actually want me to be a good person.”
PS in September 2013: “Grounded and humble”! Does he still have those people around him today?