george_hancockstefanRecently I attended the funeral service for someone who I met in the mid-seventies.  As I talked with the widow and the children of the deceased, it became obvious that I missed a lifetime opportunity for a good friendship.  We were good friends in the seventies, but at that time I was single and the agendas were totally different.  We moved to different parts of the country, but within the last ten years we were not even ten miles in distance from one another.

A few years ago, my wife and I returned to one of our former churches.  One couple hosted us for the weekend.  We had one of the best times of our lives. At one of the dinner conversations the four of us were wondering why when I served as the pastor there for close to ten years we never did anything together.  We could have been such good friends.  Since that dinner, whenever I return to that area, we spend time together and our friendship has blossomed.

In one of my classes, one of the students asked me if I know a particular New Testament scholar.  I mentioned that we graduated from the same seminary and we  had a good number of classes together.  “You must be good friends!”said the student. No, we are not friends; in fact I was trying to figure out how many conversations we had during the three years that we were together in school.

In the book of Proverbs, friendship is extolled as one of the blessings of this earthly life. Even Jesus, as he progresses in his relationship with his apostles, says at one time, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)

Sometimes friendships do not happen because our lives are moving too fast and we miss those progressive opportunities to develop them. In order for the friendship that Jesus was talking about to happen, the Apostle Peter tells Jesus that they (the disciples) left everything to follow Him.  It takes time to develop friendships – time to enjoy meals, take walks and trips for no reason, play sports or silly games. Those are the ingredients of friendship.

In sincere conversations with one another we find that most of us have colleagues with whom we work and make a living.  They count on us and we count on them and the working place is amiable and we go home at the end of the day.  Sometimes we are friendly with our neighbors because our kids are involved with their kids in sports, school or other related activities.  In listening to people talk about meaningful friendships, it surprises me that we often talk about our childhood and youth – those meandering days in which time seem to go slower, when we had no schedules and we just wanted to be with one another because it was so much fun.

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Rev. Dr. George Hancock-Stefan

George Hancock-Stefan

Pastor George Hancock-Stefan completed 30 years as the pastor of the great congregation at Central Baptist Church in Atlantic Highlands in 2020. Those 30 years have been a blessed time for him, his wife...