Each month, two staff writers will respond to Dr. Stanley’s teaching. This round, we give you Kayla Yiu and Joseph E. Miller with their perspectives on the power of true friendship, in response to the article “In Good Company.”
"However, the most amazing aspect of Jonathan’s last encounter with David was his willingness to take second place. There was never any competition between these men, even though one was the natural heir to the throne and the other, God’s anointed future king. Jonathan’s humility enabled him to accept the Lord’s sovereign choice and give up the throne, saying, ‘You will be king over Israel and I will be next to you’ (1 Samuel 23:17 NASB1995). Many friendships have ended because of pride and jealousy, but selfless humility builds up a relationship.
“We’d all love to have a faithful friend like Jonathan, but we also have a responsibility to become a loyal companion to someone else. Sometimes we forget that a lasting friendship is a mutual effort. Relationships die when one person always does the giving. Although there are seasons when one person may be more on the receiving end, in a long-term relationship, there needs to be balance."
by Kayla Yiu
Jonathan’s loyalty to David reminds me a lot of my friend Caryn, whom I met in college. She used to visit campus on the weekends to see her boyfriend (now husband) and would crash in my dorm room. Me on my top bunk and her squished on the love seat, we’d stay up too late talking. We have been close ever since.
But maybe three or four years into our friendship, I started acting out. In hindsight, I was lost and grasping at anything for security, but I couldn’t articulate that then. I was spending time with toxic people, staying out late drinking, and so on, and all of it put a strain on the relationship Caryn and I shared.
Eventually that season passed, and it became clear to me just how patient and understanding my friend had been. My own family had judged and treated me differently, but not Caryn. I’m sure she didn’t agree with my choices, maybe even worried about them, but nothing changed between us. She continued to show up, to be fully present and understanding. For two turbulent years, she patiently listened, all the while trusting I would come around in spite of my questionable decisions. She affirmed my dignity when I couldn’t do it myself.
To echo Dr. Stanley, we do have “a responsibility to become a loyal companion to someone else,” to become a Jonathan. But for me, it is more than a duty—it has become an honor. After having received Caryn’s unconditional love, I want to return that loyalty to her, even now as we live hundreds of miles apart and our friendship happens mostly over phone calls. Regardless, my goal of faithful support remains, and I like to think I’m ready for whatever trials might head her way. The give and take of friendship is unpredictable but real, and I also hope that, learning from Caryn’s patience and trust, I can one day become that faithful friend for somebody else.
by Joseph E. Miller
Jon had red hair, like me, except his was a shade brighter. But I was mostly drawn to his immediate kindness. As the new kid living in a duplex on a dead-end street, I was terribly nervous about catching the bus. But Jon, who lived a couple of doors down, befriended me one morning and put my mind at ease. He seemed pretty cool and confident, not in need of another friend.
These men could have hated each other, but instead they found a mutual respect and walked humbly into a beautiful picture of friendship.
Sometimes finding an ally happens when you least expect it—or most hope for it. Over the next year, Jon and I hung out constantly. We worked in unity to build forts in the woods. During sleepovers we sat up for hours playing Atari. And we didn’t so much trade baseball cards—it was more like gifting the other’s favorite players and teams without expecting anything in return. Jon’s mother was newly single, and mine had just remarried and moved us across the state. For the better part of a year, our friendship gave us stability. Then I heard they were moving to Texas, and my heart sank: This was the first real loss of a close friend.
In the article “In Good Company,” Charles F. Stanley takes a look at healthy friendships, based on the example of Jonathan and David’s mutual regard for one another. Dr. Stanley writes, “Many friendships have ended because of pride and jealousy, but selfless humility builds up a relationship.”
Jonathan and David shared a bond anyone would envy. David was consistently kind to Jonathan, though Jonathan’s father, King Saul, repeatedly tried to kill David. And when God chose David to be Israel’s next monarch, Jonathan rejoiced for his friend instead of showing jealousy over being edged out of natural succession. These men could have hated each other, but instead they found a mutual respect and walked humbly into a beautiful picture of friendship.
Once you’ve had a depth of camaraderie, you recognize its value. Good friends are like loamy soil, enriching our lives.
It almost seems too good to be true. But when I look back over the decades, I see several friends God sent my way who remind me of the connection David and Jonathan had. I’m especially thankful for the friendships made in my 20s, as I grew in my faith—I’m still close with many of those people two decades later.
Like any type of relationship, friendships take effort. In my current stage of life, married with three small children, I have to work a little harder at making time to both maintain current connections with friends and keep myself open to new possibilities. But I feel that once you’ve had a depth of camaraderie, you recognize its value. Good friends are like loamy soil, enriching our lives.
Sadly, in a pre-internet world, Jon and I lost touch. I have no idea what happened to him, but I suspect he picked up where we left off, befriending another kid in need in some tiny Texas town. I get the feeling that if I ever find him, I’ll discover a life filled to the brim with stories like my own.
Illustration by Adam Cruft