Twice in the past week I drove to Atlanta to coach baseball. Okay, that’s not entirely true. Yes, I drove to Atlanta and coached baseball, but that’s not why I went. I traveled to be around friends I’ve met through the game. At the beginning of August, I’ll travel back to Colorado for a wedding and to be around more friends I’ve met through the game. These long trips have forced me to pause and think - what has made these friendships so special? Is it just the game or is there something more? I see three ingredients necessary to experience an unbreakable bond of friendship forged by the game. They are shared experiences, common vision, and success. These three strands cannot be broken.
Shared experiences are incredibly important. Remember the movie Stand By Me? Those four boys go on a journey together and the whole film is about their shared experiences. Baseball teams experience a lot together. Some of those experiences occur on the field, but even more of them happen off the field. You might remember facing that kid who ended up being a top draft pick, but you also remember talking a friend out of living his life-long dream of jumping from one building to another (#justindillard). Shared experiences are important and memorable, but, by themselves, the memories drift away like vapor.
Working towards a common vision in a committed fashion deepens a relationship. As I think about the group of men I coached with this past season and the players we coached, we arrived at a common vision together and we pursued that vision in a committed fashion. Whether we won or not, we were pursuing something much greater than ourselves. None of that could have been accomplished alone. I think about the movie Moneyball in this context. Would we have enjoyed the story as much watching Billy Beane fight an uphill climb by himself? No way. We needed that supporting character of Peter Brand because human beings are wired to see things working together, not in isolation.
The final element of friendships forged in the game is success. That does not mean you have to win a ring at the end of the season in order to build friendships. You need to clearly articulate what success is. Amazingly, this is just as important to your marriage and family as it is in building friendships in the game. Clearly articulate success and chart your growth together. When working in concert with each other, these three elements forge a bond of friendship that will last a lifetime.
When I think of examples of the unbreakable bonds of friendship outside of the game, my mind is always drawn to the disciples of Christ. They also had shared experiences, common vision, and success. The experiences they shared through walking with Christ, the common vision set for them after the resurrection, and the success they experienced by passing the knowledge of the risen Messiah on for generations. We can all experience that level of connection with our brothers when we focus on our shared experiences, common vision, and success.
Acts 2:44 - "All the believers were together and had everything in common."