“Remember, no man is a failure who has friends.” These are the immortal words written by the angel Clarence to George Bailey in the 1946 film It’s a Wonderful Life.
Friendships are essential to living a full, meaningful life, but is there such a thing as too many friends?
Insight from a Wise Author
C.S. Lewis, author of over 50 fiction and non-fiction Christian books, had a wide circle of friends. The more friends at a gathering, the better. He believed that when many friends gathered together, one person could bring out something in each other individual that another friend could not.
In his book The Four Loves, on the passing of his friend Charles Williams, he observed, “Now that Charles is dead, I shall never again see Ronald’s reaction to [a favorite inside] joke. Far from having more of Ronald, having him ‘to myself’ now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald.”
Friendship was of such great importance to Lewis that he refused to ever relocate, even for potential career advancement. Friendship was a permanent relationship, not something to be discarded when better opportunities presented themselves.
The More the Merrier
Having friends galore meant more than just laughs and good times. Lewis and his buddies met to discuss their literary work and pursue truth, both equally important to kicking back and having fun.
It was through friendship that Lewis ultimately made the conversion from atheism to Christianity. We, too, can help each other deepen our faith and discover God’s truth in our lives through friendship. Having a big circle of friends and a variety of personalities to lean on might be what brings out the best in you.
Quality over Quantity
It is important for us to remember, however, that friendship requires more than simply being friendly. John Ortberg, author of Everybody’s Normal Till You Get to Know Them, noted that too many people try to fit their relationships into the cracks of a busy schedule. Cultivating a meaningful relationship with someone requires more time and energy than Facebook and Twitter would have us believe.
Friends care for each other when they are sick or feeling down. They watch each other’s kids and take turns carpooling. They take time to celebrate each other’s accomplishments — and with more than an e-card or a text message. They pray together and love each other and sometimes even fight and forgive each other.
If your schedule is jam-packed with meetings, extracurricular activities, and a second job, it might be worth your while to truly invest your heart in just a few people and achieve that true sense of community we can’t help but long for.
What’s Right for You?
The number of friends you have might also be determined by your personality type. Are you an extrovert or an introvert? Extroverts, typically outgoing people, find it easy to make and maintain legions of friendships. They love socializing and church activities typically come easily to them.
On the other hand, if you are an introvert — someone who is naturally shy and a bit withdrawn — making and keeping friends is probably more challenging. If this sounds like you, it’s okay. It doesn’t make you less of a good person and certainly not less of a Christian. Introverts tend to make a handful of close relationships as opposed to seeking numerous friends. The silver lining, it has been suggested, is that since introverts put more of their energy into fewer people, the river of friendship runs deeper.
Whether you are an extrovert or an introvert, or you have dozens of friends or just a few, the most important thing is to follow what has already been mapped out for us in our hearts and souls. We are all called to love one another, and one of the most beautiful ways to love someone is through friendship. If you can show 30 people or just three people what it means to be loved, you are being a good friend.
In love of the brothers be tenderly affectionate one to another; in honor preferring one another —Romans 12:20