Lesson 40 and Friendships

   Posted by: John   in Church Meetings, Misc Spritual

Sunday’s Priesthood lesson was #40 from the Joseph Smith manual, “How Glorious Are Faithful, Just, and True Friends”.

The premise of the lesson had to do largely with true friendships, those which people build over years of time.  They are the results of trust, integrity, sacrifice,  and many other strong and positive attributes exhibited by regular and sometimes extreme acts of service.  These are the kinds of friendships where one would do almost anything for the other, regardless of circumstance.  For example, an excerpt from the manual, regarding one of Joseph Smith’s true friends:

One such friend was Willard Richards, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, who was jailed with Joseph and Hyrum Smith and John Taylor in Carthage, Illinois. While being held in the jail, the men were allowed to move from a cell on the first floor to a more comfortable bedroom on the second floor of the jailhouse. Then, shortly before the martyrdom, the jailer suggested that the prisoners would be safer in an iron-barred cell next to the bedroom. Joseph asked Elder Richards, who was called “doctor” by his friends because he had practiced medicine: “ ‘If we go into the cell, will you go in with us?’ The doctor answered, ‘Brother Joseph, you did not ask me to cross the river with you—you did not ask me to come to Carthage—you did not ask me to come to jail with you—and do you think I would forsake you now? But I will tell you what I will do; if you are condemned to be hung for treason, I will be hung in your stead, and you shall go free.’ Joseph said, ‘You cannot.’ The doctor replied, ‘I will.’ ”

This is a great example of true friendship, one person being willing to do anything for another.  The verbal exchange was not one of chance, but the culmination of years of knowing, trusting and suffering affliction together.

One of the things that was discussed had to do with convert retention.  Among the things that are crucial for new (and prospective) church members are good friendships with other members.  However, there’s a catch (there’s almost always a catch, right?) to the whole friendship thing.  We are encouraged to become friends with new and prospective members.  But, are we doing it because we are SUPPOSED to or because we WANT to?  There is a huge difference. 

Most intelligent people know how to spot a phony.  A person who has been enlisted to be a friend to another isn’t very often invested in it.  Sure, you can be polite, even charming, and display every outward appearance of friendship, but very soon it becomes apparent that it’s for show.  When the artificiality of the friendship becomes exposed, it can be a major turn-off.  Imagine how you would feel if you found out someone liked you for the simple reason that they were told to, or because it made them look good to someone else.  I like to call these fake-friends, and frankly, they stink.

Likewise, there are those who are so-called fair weather friends.  Good times, parties, you-have-something-I-want-or-need type friendships are shallow and don’t stand up to the test of time or trouble.  These kinds of friendships only last until the good stuff runs out, then it’s on to the next one. 

It could be co-workers, who you are friends with as long as you work together, but never talk to each other again when one leaves.  Or the next door neighbor of several years who moves away and is never heard from again.  Friendships of convenience are common, even necessary, but they do not qualify as true friendships as described of Willard Richards.

Young women especially should be wary of guys who are out to be friends just long enough to talk them into bed.  These types of people are worse than fake-friends.  They are outright frauds, making themselves presentable and likeable, knowing they are going to take advantage of someone.  There is no friendship here, just flattering words and disguised sleaze.

So what to do?  We are not likely going to form hundreds and thousands of true friendships in our lives.  Truth be told, I can probably count the number of my true friendships on the fingers of both hands, and these would include family members.  That’s not to say that I will not and do not do things with and for my friends, because I do.  However, I really can’t think of very many people that I would be willing to replace at the gallows. 

What does that say about me?  Do I just not make true friends?  Perhaps I have grown cynical.  I have had people I considered good and true friends stab me in the back and abandon my family in the past (and there were a good number of them…most of them were church members, some of whom I had known for years).  More likely, I have stepped away from the ability to wholly trust.  I think I have improved some over the past couple of years.  At least I certainly hope so.  I don’t want to be a fake-friend, or a fair-weather one either.  I prefer to be the real deal.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 21st, 2009 at 4:00 pm and is filed under Church Meetings, Misc Spritual. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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