For most people having friends is having someone who likes them. And it is true, that a friend will certainly like you, but being popular-which is the goal of most people seeking friendship-is not the same as having a real friend.
If your goal is to be popular, be with the in crowd, be well known or well liked, most of your relationships will be shallow. They will come and go like a butterfly, flitting here and there without any real purpose or substance.
The need to be liked is very powerful. But it is often a shallow victory to be considered with the 'in crowd'. Seeking friendship for such a superficial reason will only end up breaking your heart or frustrating you to no end.
Real friendship is actually extremely rare. If I can be so bold to say, if you could have three real friends in your lifetime, you are a very fortunate person. The reason why true friendship is so rare is because of the depth of commitment necessary to be a true or real friend.
Friendship isn't a separate relationship. You don't have husband, wife, mom, dad, brothers, sisters, cousins, neighbors, co-workers, peers, and then friends. Friendship is the ultimate pinnacle of any other type of relationship. When your wife becomes your friend, or when your husband becomes your friend, or when a parent can become a friend then it has reached the highest evolution possible within that relationship.
I'm a Christian and the Bible tells me that there is no greater love than that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13). True friendship is where you are willing to sacrifice important things for that friendship. When someone is willing to sacrifice a dream, or a hope, or something very important to their life for you and get nothing in return, you may have found a real friend.
Let me ask you, are you willing to sacrifice your popularity, the attention of others, your career, your ambitions, your needs, or your wants for anyone? If not, then you probably have no one who you consider a real friend.
I'm more than willing to do that for my wife. My wife is not separate from my friends. She is my best friend-outside of my God and Saviour, Jesus. I am willing to give up my life for her. I'll lay it down for her to use or abuse. She's my friend. Do you have anyone that you're willing to do that for? Is there anyone willing to do that for you?
That is what a true friend is.
It is a very rare, very special, and incredibly valuable thing.
Greg S. Baker is a Pastor, Counselor, and Author specializing in building and strengthening relationships.
For more books and resources on how to communicate better, express yourself, and strengthen social skills. Check out our book, 'Fitly Spoken', a Christian based book that explores the intricacies of human communication and expression in relationships.