Tag Archive: friendship


One of the most important relationships one can have is friendship. Family is family but you get to choose your friends, and all that.

i have a crazy amount of good friends who i thoroughly appreciate and thought it necessary to have some posts looking at how we can make good friends as well as be good friends to those around us – i hope you enjoy:

Cheering Section: The Art of Mentoring – I believe there can be a huge overlap between mentorship and friendship and especially the principle of ‘Wounds from a Friend’

How To Lose a Friend in Ten Ways – Some irritating habits in friends that make friendship with them tricky.

I am Thanx-Filled for my friends – This Thanksgiving inspired piece that i wrote in the States, naming some of my friends and inviting you to do the same.

The Art of Holding a Friend’s Head Under the Water – you know, as one does. But actually the life-giving experience of getting to baptise a friend.

The Friend Test – Another What Kind Of Friend Are You question, but this one focusing on what happens if a good friend hurts you badly?

What Kind Of A Friend Are You, Anyway? This post pretty much asks that question, and gives some examples of possible answers.

Also there is always a clip or two of my funniest moments in the hit sitcom ‘Friends’ to keep you going:

Funniest Friends Clip ever – My favourite Friends clip

Funniester Friends Clip ever – Just kidding, it’s this one!

For some of you this will be a “best, most moving story I ever read, must forward to 100 friends” whereas for others, halfway through the first line will have you rolling your eyes and going, “Oh, one of those”

if you are the former, enjoy the story, it’s an inspiring story…

if you are the latter, jump down to the bottom and see the point i am trying to make about it, it’s a great point:

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As she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children an untruth. Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. However, that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.

Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he did not play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath. In addition, Teddy could be unpleasant.

It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X’s and then putting a big “F” at the top of his papers.

At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child’s past records and she put Teddy’s off until last. However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise.

Teddy’s first grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners… he is a joy to be around..”

His second grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is an excellent student, well liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle.”

His third grade teacher wrote, “His mother’s death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best, but his father doesn’t show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren’t taken.”

Teddy’s fourth grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is withdrawn and doesn’t show much interest in school. He doesn’t have many friends and he sometimes sleeps in class.”

By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy’s. His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper That he got from a grocery bag Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one-quarter full of perfume.. But she stifled the children’s laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist. Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, “Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom used to.” After the children left, she cried for at least an hour.

On that very day, she quit teaching reading, writing and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children. Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of her “teacher’s pets..”

A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling* her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in life.

Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he’d stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he had ever had in his whole life.

Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor’s degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had. But now his name was a little longer…. The letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, MD.

The story does not end there. You see, there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said he had met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit at the wedding in the place that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom.

Of course, Mrs. Thompson did. And guess what? She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. Moreover, she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together.

They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson’s ear, “Thank you Mrs. Thompson for* believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference.”

Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, “Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn’t know how to teach until I met you.”

(For you that don’t know, Teddy Stoddard is the Dr. at Iowa Methodist Hospital in Des Moines that has the Stoddard Cancer Wing.)

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As well as being the recurring eternal optimist [usually in events involving sport and especially the south african cricket team] i have  side career as being the somewhat-irregular-skepticist and so i went straight to Uncle Google to see if the story was true. What is interesting is that there was a Teddy Stoddard at the Iowa Methodist hospital and it does indeed have the Stoddard Cancer Wing. That seems to be where the connection ends though – according to the internets, this beautiful story is just that – a story. You can see more at http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/t/teddy.htm

HOWEVER, just because this is not a true story, doesn’t mean we don’t have anything to learn from it.

I recently had a friend of mine email me the background story [current home situation] of some people I work with and it just changed everything around and helped make a lot of sense to certain other things that had been going on or attitudes presented. Hearing someone’s home story, relationship struggle or internal pain doesn’t always condone their actions, but often it at the very least helps explain them which often makes it easier for us to show, grace, patience and forgiveness.

But too often we don’t know the story. And so there is this:


i just heard what i thought was the most inspirationally thing on the book of facings today [i know, but it’s true!] where a friend shared that a few months ago they were at Lake Merritt [which is this stunning lake where all sorts of beautiful crazy things are always happening. Some people sitting at a table offering people a dollar to hear their stories. That sounds like such a great thing, and I am super keen to try it.

I admit it is a little random and maybe we can get a little more creative about how we do that with people we know, creating a space or forum for them to share. But just starting to change our mindsets [especially when we are tempted to judge people or be impatient with them] and realising that the people around us are probably masking some pain or discomfort at the moment. And how we can perhaps choose to be a little kinder and more gentle with them.

Hewbrews 12. 1-2  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

I have occasionally run an activity when i have done a camp or church preach where before worship singing time i explain to everyone that, in the light of this verse from Hebrews, you are invited to write down your ‘everything that hinders’ or ‘the sin that so easily entangles’ you right at this moment. I also explain to them that before i start my speak i am going to read out what everyone wrote [so no surprises] but obviously without know who wrote what.

This has proved to be such a powerful exercise because as a church or camp community we get to have a glimpse of the struggles that the people around us are going through. Not many people arrive at church looking like they are struggling with adultery or losing their job or a serious health condition and so we tend to bury the story deep and put on our happy or neutral church face and then go and interact as if all is well before returning back home to whatever hidden pain or challenge[s] await us. But suddenly you hear about all of the crap that is being dealt with or faced by the people in the room and that can be so helpful as we start to realise what is really going on in the lives of the people around us.


There is just so much that could be said on this, but maybe here are a few places to begin:

# When you hang out with your friends, do you tend towards superficial talk about movies, food, sports and music? Nothing wrong with any of these things per say, but if this the only way you spend time with your friends, why not consider creating some safe places to really just ask how people are doing, share your stories, listen to a point of pain.

# Relationships are an area that are often hugely under attack and pressure from all sides and we see how this plays out especially in the divorce rate. When last did you create a space for a couple you know well [can be dating, can be married, you can or can not be in a relationship] to invite them to share their story with you, to pay for them to have a date night, to offer to babysit their children for a day or a weekend so they can have some them time? 

# With someone not in a relationship there is the possibility for a lot of people that they don’t have ‘that person’ to share their stuff with. Why not invite someone out for a cup of coffee, a cycle, or over for a meal and give them a chance to just share how they are doing or if they have any points of pain at the moment [i imagine the closer your relationship is with them the more easily they will share]

i feel like a lot of this is just about creating the space or making the time. and if we get it right, this stuff can be revolutionary, it can be life-changing, it may even have the effect of preventing something like loneliness, addiction or even suicide.


Do any of you have a story to share about a time when someone showed interest in your story and what it meant to you?

i am not a big fan of April Fool’s Day. i know, i know, shoot me down.

And i’m not sure i can say what i want to say here without being labelled judgmental, so go ahead if you need to.


But it was brought to light to me why i am such a big fan of not being a fan of April Fool’s Day when i read my friend James’ description of it as ‘Happy International Being Deceived Day’ or something like that.

i mean there is the trick side to it right? i am typing this with blue fingers because someone in my house (and  won’t mention Aaron’s name) stuck blue food coloring in the tap somehow and i found that pretty funny. And i believe there is a line as to what is okay and what is not in terms of ‘being tricked’ and i have a fair number of friend who i love dearly who have a completely different idea of where that line might be. And that’s okay.

But then there is the deception side of it, which is really just the pretty word for lying, right?



We are pregnant. Ha ha no we’re not. We just deceived you. That moment of happiness and celebration you shared with me, all just a joke. Ha ha you fell for it.

Yes, i did. Well done you. You successfully deceived me.

Ah, there you go with the judging. And I’m pretty much judging you for judging me, so if one of us doesn’t pull out of this soon somebody is going to start disappearing from their family photo ‘Back to the Future’ style if you don’t know what i mean (because you’re under 33 or something).

The pregnant one is a specific area of pain for me. And i saw it when I saw just who was liking the similar statement i made on the book of faces. Some friends of mine who have really been struggling to have a baby for a number of years. For some reason they didn’t find people pretending to be pregnant all that humorous.

But beyond that, for me honesty is one of the most important things there is. It’s something i place a high value on. And so well done on deceiving me, but you also broke trust with me. And that is a difficult one to earn back. Not because i’m going to hold a grudge and choose not to forgive you for April Fooling me. But because you broke trust. It’s broken. Broken things take some time to be put back together.


i got taken by one person on Facebook who posted an achievement or happening in their life that seemed legit and so i wrote a short message of celebration. A minute later someone who knew them better commented on how it must have been a joke because they would never do this thing. And i quickly snuck back in and deleted my comment. i was embarrassed. Wait a second? i was embarrassed for celebrating someone? For getting excited about their joy? Such a small insignificant moment of my day and yet it felt pretty huge.

my friend Steve Heineman summed it up nicely in his very clever status: ‘Man, I can’t wait until April Fools Day is over so we can announce some huge news…’

cos that’s it really, hey? you can’t trust anything today. any announcement has to be treated with caution, any news has to be really dissected to see if it is in fact real.


Well, that feels like a win. And i’m sure it does to a lot of you. And good for you. But for me it feels like we’ve lost something and so i look forward to tomorrow when everything is right with the world again. Well, this thing at least… Happy International Day of deception everybody!


i don’t think we talk about Friendship enough.

in fact, i think too often, too many of us might take it for granted.

i don’t think i do. i am just so constantly made aware of how many incredible friends i have in and around my life – the term ‘best friend’ relates to at least 7 people i can think of straight away who are all ‘best friends’ in differing but equivalent ways.

and when i start listing quality friends, well i can just write a very long list without much thought at all.

those are the easy ones though – it is so easy to be friends with those people because what they bring to the party is immediately obvious and amazing and life-giving and so on. but then i read this comment about Eeyore the other day and it really struck me:


do i have any people like that in my life? do you?

and if not, is there someone who may be that person but we may not have invited them in to the group like Pooh and the gang above?

do our friends need to measure up to a certain level to earn the right and privilege of sticking around?

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a second thing when it comes to friendship is that as much as i LOVE to have fun and be silly and crazy and ridiculous with my friends [you know who you are!] i also very much like to think deeply and wrestle with faith and life and God and money and stuff and things. fortunately i have good mates that i can do both with. and for the most part find both of those things in a lot of my good friends which is great.

and in amongst a vomitarium of kitch and cheesy friendship quote posters on the Uncle Google, i managed to locate this gem, which i really like…


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the third thing i have mentioned a bunch of times, because i believe in it so strongly and i feel like these three pictures combinedly capture the essence of it:






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What about you? What do you look for in a friend? In fact, if you think of your best friend, what is the one characteristic that stands out for you in terms of something you realy appreciate in them?

i would LOVE to hear some of those.

this week is Thanksgiving which is a fairly alien celebration to us as South Africans…

but as South Africans living in Americaland, this is now the third time we will be celebrating it and so it has begun to find a special place in our hearts…

and with a focus on giving thanks, who can go wrong? [don’t mention black friday or cyber monday and we may get out of this alive]

there is so much in my life i have to give thanks for [and that is even in the midst of a time that has been a little bit of a struggle for me in various ways] and it would take a hundred blog posts to even start denting that [don’t worry, this is not the start of a 100 part series]

but tonite i hung out with two guys who graciously invited me onto their most fun radio podcast and the show ended with my new friend Jacob asking Josiah [aka Tea-man] and myself one thing we were grateful for…

and i spoke a little bit about friends. and yes, there was an obvious side reference to the tv series and could we BE any more thankful [and how one day Matt Perry will respond to me on Twitter – how about it Matt? love your work!] but one of the things i am always most grateful for in my life is the many [and your mind would be blown if you had any idea how many] meaningful friends i have in and around my life.

the kind of friends i spoke about in particular are those whose friendship is so deep and powerful [through quality over quantity of time spent together] that you can see them once a year or even once every three years and it’s like you’ve been spending time with them daily for the last year – you just pick up exactly where you left off… you got anyone like that? take a moment and picture them. pick up your phone, open your Twitter, grab a pen and paper and LET THEM KNOW!!! those are such special friendships.

i spoke of my friends Debbie and Barry Autwick from KZN in South Africa who surprised us a week before flying over here with the news they were coming and we got to hang with them for two days and just laughed so much [it was him!] and learned great new bands to listen to [Bastille] and discovered addictive happiness-making videos [What the Fox says and other music videos by Ylvis – have you checked out their ‘Flight of the Conchords’esque ‘The Cabin’?] and spoke about life and God and truth and laughed some more [did i mention they topped up my supply of Nachtmusiek and Milo?] Oh man, such good times and i have seen them a maximum of one to three days per year or less over the last five to ten years…

i thought of our new friends Steve Graybill and Helene Scalliet who we met pretty much in passing during our time at the Simple Way but stayed in contact with online and so our friendship has largely grown as we’ve shared ideas and read each others blogs and followed the activity and thought and heart of the other online and just such quality people who planned a trip to come visit us a few weeks ago [and yes they had other friends in the neighborhood but after less than a week in total of relationship they chose to fly across the country and spend some days at our place] and we laughed and spoke and got to know each other and were challenged and prayer walked and it was amazing – and the other day when i was feeling particularly low i go online and there is a mail from Steve that was just so encouraging and real and loving that it lifted me right up.

and i could go on for a long, long time. but the point is realising [which i do often] and being grateful for [which i am all the time] and then trying to be more regular in the letting them know just how much they mean to you [which i try to do, but probably fail horribly at simply because there are so many of them in my life]

so many of those friends are the ones who pooled their resources together and gave generously [and are giving] so that we could be first at the Simple Way [in terms of flights] and now here [in terms of flights and monthly support] and they are not all people that have a lot, but what they have they share. we are blown away by the generosity constantly shown to us.

so this week [and beyond] i want to take the time to say thank you to my friends – i hope that they know – and i hope i will get better at telling them…

what about you? is there someone in your life you need to let know how much you care about them or appreciate them or what they meant to you? if anyone wants to share a story of a good friend like i’ve shared here, i would love to read those – one story of one friend you have who means a lot to you… and go.

Have i ever been a mentor to someone? It’s hard to say. I HAVE had a lot of regular weekly ‘coffee, breakfast and working through a chapter of the Bible or some book’ sessions with a whole bunch of different guys over the last couple of years though, in various contexts and places.

As i continue to participate in NaBloPoMo, otherwise known as National Blog Posting Month, in which the invitation or challenge is to post a blog every day, i decided to continue my answer to this prompt they so kindly prompted:

Do you have a mentor? Tell us about him or her. Are you a mentor to someone else? Tell us what that relationship has added to your life.

mentorI already looked at some aspects of being mentored over here. But what about mentoring? It sounds so official and what if I am not qualified enough?

Well, the way I see it, if you can shine a light on a step that someone else has not yet walked on, you have it in you to mentor.

I would suggest that it will generally be someone younger than you and usually someone of the same gender, but those are not fast rules.

And for me, possibly the greatest gift of mentoring someone is Time. Being intentional about building relationship with another person over time, giving them a space to speak and be really heard [a safe place where they can free to share anything without risk of judgement]. Being a cheerleader who is present for them whether times are good, bad or less than photoshopped.

I also imagine a lot of mentoring is done in secret. It is not so important that someone knows or understands that “they are being mentored” – what is important is that someone knows they are loved and important enough for you to spend time with them.


Jesus hung out with 12 men for three years. And so i guess another term for ‘mentoring’ could be ‘discipleship’ because ultimately that is what it is. And He didn’t work through the latest book or program with them. He ate meals with them and He demonstrated His mission on earth and for a while they got to observe Him and then at some point He gave them the opportunity to step out and try it themselves. So often Jesus stepped away from the crowds that would gather around Him, simply to teach His twelve. And within that there were even times where He would take Peter, James and John aside and give them special attention and opportunities.

Sometimes it can look like a cup of coffee every now and then, or perhaps, if you’re an outdoor person, an invitation to a hike or a regular run or game of squash. I personally believe it is likely to be more beneficial to meet on a more regular and set-timed basis [and I have always viewed this as a two way thing – as the older person I might have lots to share through experience or from having been taught certain things, but the other person will have the benefit often of seeing life or a passage through younger and fresher eyes and so may see things i have never thought of and so as i pour into them, i am always gaining something back, although that is never the point].

 So at the moment I have coffee or breakfast every Friday morning with two younger guys and we are working through the book of Ephesians a chapter at a time. When I was in Stellenbosch it was morning coffee or breakfast [spotting a trend? caffeine and food!] with a number of different guys over the six years i was there, sometimes one at a time but often two together. Back in East Claremont days, three of us used to meet once or twice a week in the earlyish morning for prayer [when we would all wake up].

We worked through a chapter of an inspiring book or the bible every week and then would come together and share something that had ‘jumped out at us’ or that we had found particularly meaningful, or brought a question about something we didn’t understand. There was also time to check in in terms of how the week had been, or current temptations we were struggling with or help with decisions that had to be made.

And at the end it really looks like friendship. 

The question i have for you is, who are you mentoring or discipling? And what does it look like? Would love to hear some stories in the comments…





It is obvious there is a problem, that does not need to be proved [and if you still think it does, please head down to your local bookstore and pick up a copy of ‘Racism for Dummies’] but the question facing us all [and more especially those of us on the privilege side of things as we have the power and resources to do so, but we had definitely be listening to and following the voices and lives of those on the prejudiced against side as this is their long walk to freedom] is what can we do about it? 

Interestingly enough, this is a blog post that has been waiting in my draft box to be written [enter the Trayvon/Zimmerman court ruling debacle] and so timely that I get to it now. I really hope this will spark a discussion because I am really wanting to figure out some answers here so if you have an opinion or even a thought towards one, please leave your comments at the end of this.

Thought number 1:

# I don’t know that white people are more racist than black people – I think we just profited from it. Black people had to be racist for free.

Right? Having come from an apartheid-past South Africa [legalised racism for the unaware] which still almost 20 years later is filled with the residue and leftovers of our racist past I know there is no easy fix. The excitement of watching sporting events such as the 1995 Rugby World cup victory [with Nelson Mandela playing the hugest part in wearing a Francois Pienaar jersey and presenting the cup] and the recent 2010 Soccer World cup [both hosted by South Africa] and their effect on bringing races and cultures together. Balanced negatively by the racist ideas and ideologies sadly still held by so many and the comments so dismissively thrown out that make an event ‘a racist event’ in seconds.

Conclusions that I have come to from living in South Africa:

Conclusion #1: Racist white people are racist

Conclusion #2: Racist black people are racist

…and so on.

So where does that leave me? What can I effectively do to make a difference?

Reality: I can’t do a whole lot about racist black people except shine – I have no voice there. Only my actions of demonstrating a different reality to the one they have known is likely to make any difference at all. The starting point here is not being listened to. For the most part this is going to have to come from other black people who will at least be able to get a word or example in before being dismissed.

When it comes to white racists, I do have more of a voice, but the reality is probably not to the extremes. Again I can model something different, something diverse and full of working unity, but those in whom it is entrenched are going to take a miracle to get through to [fortunately I do believe in One whose business is miracles].

I think where I have the largest impact potential is in the lives and minds and voices of those who embrace subtle racism [starting with me, always easier to notice this crap in other people – who are the friends of colour I am inviting to point out racist thoughts, ideas and attitudes in my own life? Good start!] So those who don’t think they are racist but say or do racist things in my presence, particularly those I have relationship with [whose lives I have perhaps earned the right to speak into]

An example of a subtle [in a South African context at least] – calling the 60 year old man who works in your garden ‘boy’ – maybe a way to figure out if it is racist or not is to reverse the races of the individuals in the example and so now you have a 20 or 30 year old black man calling a 60 year old white man “boy” – how does that go down for you?

Maybe it’s even taking it one step further – maybe a subtle is even making a 60 year old man work in your garden?

Not knowing the names of the children of the woman who has cleaned your house every week for the last two years? Not being invested in their education and wellbeing? [Surely if her family life is worse somehow as a result of her working for you there are some serious questions to consider?]

Perhaps it requires asking a higher grade of question with regards to the people who work for you, as evidenced in this Living Wage vs Minimjum Wage article on Twocents.co?

If your friends make a racist joke or comment in your presence, doing something about it or at the very least walking away to show you are not up for that. [Although I think it requires some form of direct confrontation, if maybe a private one later, for the thing to ever be actively dealt with]. Refusing to allow racism in any form to be allowed to safely pass by in your presence?

What else? Where do you see subtle ways in which racism is evidenced around you? What solutions would you recommend for those of us who are really wanting to be a part of the change but don’t really know where to start? 

In terms of people of other races who exhibit subtle racism, I think we have a part to play with them as well. That of friendship. It is a lot easier to be racist towards people you don’t know – towards “the other”, “them” or “those people” but once relationship has formed… once there is a name and family members and a shared story… well then suddenly it becomes a lot different. So I definitely think a huge key in this is for white people [in particular] to listen. To learn names and invite stories and really listen. Not to justify or to be defensive or talk about how we inherited this and it’s really not our crap. It’s the crap we are in and it is our reality and we have to own that. And start working together to move beyond that.



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