How Can I Make Friends?

 by Chuck Snyder
 co-chaplain for the Seattle Mariners


Dear Chuck
I am a 43-year-old extremely successful bank officer. I became a Christian last year.

I cannot seem to form really deep relationships with anyone, even my wife, who is not a Christian. Everyone thinks I am the pillar of society and strength, but nobody knows how hard I struggle with life every day. I work 12 to 14 hours a day so I don't have to face people socially. I want to open up but am afraid my priest and others will see me as weak. I have straightened out the finances of most of the town I live in and nearly half the county. I know the most personal details of nearly everyone, yet nobody knows me. At banking conventions I usually am a key speaker and am asked to speak around the country several times a year. Afterward, I hole up in my room and order room service.

I would really like to have other guys to fish and hang with but don't know how to start those kind of relationships so late in life. I do find that I can open to others on the Internet. Could that be because there is not a risk of rejection?

Chuck's Response
Thanks for the note concerning not being able to relate to people socially. I think you and I are the same. I am basically shy, but when I have a goal (teach a class, give a speech, make a report, etc.) you would think I was the most outgoing person in the world.

When my wife, Barb, and I do marriage seminars around the country, I look like I am very comfortable meeting people ... but this is learned. If I were not in charge, I would much prefer getting room service and reading a book. I think much of this is our personality style.

What I did to cultivate close friends was begin teaching a men's Bible study at 6:30 a.m. Thursday mornings at a local restaurant. I've been doing this for 25 years or so, and our group varies from 15-20 men every week. Some come and go as they leave the area but there is a solid core of men who have been together a long time. Because we know each other so well, we can cry together, laugh together, learn together and be honest with each other. I would be happy to help you get started. What I do is just go through a book of the Bible and talk about only those things that we can apply to our lives today. I leave all the doctrine and church history for someone else. I use the older version of the Living Bible that speaks my language. I would be happy to give you guidelines on what questions to ask and what to talk about, if this sounds like something you would like to do. Just let me know.

Even more important than that, however, is finding something you can do with your wife that both of you would enjoy. She is your second-highest priority after your relationship with Jesus Christ. Barb and I are the World's Most Opposite Couple, so we had nothing in common when we got married. We had to create some things to do. We enjoy playing gin rummy together. We enjoy going second handing together. We enjoy playing tennis together. I would suggest courting your wife again so that she will see that Christians can love and care.

The Internet is a good place to talk with people, and since it is usually anonymous, we can be honest, but this is just surface stuff. You need to be with people physically to really bond. Since you'll be the leader of your little Bible Study you can pull this off ... because you will be in charge. This will take some effort on your part. The Bible says that people will know we are Christians by our love ... but they can't feel any of that unless we are with them. When we do love ... then the feelings come. I hope you'll look at your community and county as your "mission field," where you can show people what real Christians look like. Those are my thoughts. Be sure to get back to me if you want to talk further.

Chuck Snyder



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Updated 05/24/2005