Friendship Series #5: Friendship Requires Mutual Pursuit

Picture for a moment a magnet. We have all used them and perhaps even as a child played with them. The concept is pretty simple. There is a positive side to a magnet and a negative side. You need both sides for the magnet to work. You can’t try to line up a positive with another positive. However, the point that I am going to try to emphasize here is that both the positive and the negative are attracted to each other with the same amount of force. We don’t say that it is the positive that goes toward the negative or the negative that goes toward the positive. Both sides of the magnet are equally attracted to each other. The same must be true if genuine friendships are going to occur—both sides are going to have to pursue.

Two-Sided Effort

The point of this blog is to highlight that friendships need to be balanced in terms of pursuit. There will be times when one person must pursue the other. Perhaps he or she is being sinful and running from their friends. Perhaps one persons has deceived to be intentional with someone that they do not know and hope to forge a relationship. Or perhaps one is just better at pursuing than others. Imbalance is how many relationships start—but it is not where they can stay.

Christ Pursued Us First and Pursues us Most

While I am going to argue the we must have mutual pursuit in a friendship, I want to point out first that it is Christ who pursues his friends the first and pursues them the most. The friendship that believers share with Him will always be imbalanced. He will always be a far better friend than we are to Him or we are to any other person. He pursued His people when they were his enemy, and he pursued them even when they had hurt him. But he doesn’t leave it there. Christ, after pursuing his people, demands that they pursue him back. The problem that ancient Israel had, and the problem that we face today is that we run after other gods (other friends). The Christian call then is a call to pursue Christ and nothing else.

The Dangers of Imbalanced Pursuit

There are two main reasons we should consider friendships that are imbalanced in terms of pursuing one another danger. The first is that it will be impossible to provide good care if there is never any pursuit by one party to another. There is a clear mandate to provide loving care in our friendships, but that will be impossible if we don’t pursue. Expecting one party to bear the burden of pursuit will only lead to a lack of love.

The second reason is that it will foster in the heart of the person not doing the pursuing a disposition toward pride. It would be only natural to see pride well up in the heart of anyone who is pursed by others by does not pursue others. Not even our relationship with God is put in terms of a one-way pursuit. Pride like that comes only from the Adversary himself.

What to Do If you Don’t Pursue?

You may find yourself, as you examine your own habits, that you are not the one who does the pursuing in your friendships. Maybe you are a husband how doesn’t pursue his wife. Maybe you are a friend who expects others to setup a get-together. Or maybe, you are even a parent (or child) who expect the other to call and ask how life is going. No matter how the relationship lines are drawn there can easily be a tendency to not pursue.

Commit to Practical Steps

You may literally need to take some steps that seem silly in your brain, but if you do not do what it takes to pursue, then you may never get it done. So consider putting reminders on your calendar. There is nothing wrong with putting on the agenda, “Call John and find out how he is.” Then when you have done that task, before you move on to the next thing, put it on there again. There is nothing wrong, in the beginning as you try to grow, to set a reminder to text someone and find out how they are doing.

Confess Your Heart

A heart that doesn’t pursue, is at many levels, a heart that doesn’t love. When someone is in your thoughts, in your heart, then it is easy to pursue them. When I am thinking about my wife on a regular basis, it is easy for me to pursue her. If I am lost in my own little world of selfishness, then it can be harder. Spend time confessing each morning that you do not have a heart to show love the way that God has called you to show love.

Ask for Help and Patience

There is nothing wrong with asking a friend to hold you accountable to growing in this. Speak to your accountability partner about your habits and ask if he or she is willing to ask you about how you tend to not seek others but wait to be sought by them first. Then ask your friends to be patient with you as you try to grow. Changing who you are is not going to happen overnight. Ask them to bear with you as you work hard each day to be a more caring and pursuing friend.

Joshua M. GreinerJoshua M. Greiner
Josh has been on staff with Faith since 2010. He graduated from Purdue University with a BA in Political Science (2008) and from Faith Bible Seminary with a MDiv (2013), The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with a ThM in Biblical Counseling (2017) and is pursuing a PhD in Counseling from SBTS as well. He serves as the Pastor of Faith West Ministries, the Chaplin of the West Lafayette Fire Department, an instructor with Faith Bible Seminary, and a Fellow with the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC). He is married to his wife Shana, and they have four children together.