“…and Hushai the Archite was the king’s friend” (1 Chronicles 27:33).
Everyone needs friends. If you’re a leader of any kind, you especially need friends. You might feel tempted to avoid friendship but don’t. You might be a natural born leader, but sometimes you need to turn off the leading and be a friend.
David was an incredible leader. Men flocked to him. He was the giant-killer — and they wanted to kill giants too. But when David built his leadership team he included a unique position — his friend. He had all the standard positions — counselors, generals, advisors, lawyers, etc. — but he also put a friend on his team.
If you are a leader of anyone or anything, I exhort you to follow David’s example and find yourself a friend or two. You might even have a bit of a friendship with the people you're leading, but I’m not talking about them. Get someone outside of your influence to be your friend. Here are some benefits if you do.
Leadership is a tireless work. Your job is never done. Your mind can easily become overwhelmed with the task at hand. Like an all-consuming fire, your leadership can demand all of you. Don’t believe this is a good thing, that you just enjoy your work so much that it’s fun for you to be consumed by it. Nonsense. You aren’t God. You’ll never be God. You are limited and finite. Even God ceased from His work on the seventh day. He was trying to show you something. Stop. Enjoy. Rest.
A good friend can help you rest from your leadership. They can serve as a distraction from your work. Sure, you’ll talk with them about your work, projects, and dilemmas, but your friend is not your direct report. As a friend, they’ll have limitations in their understanding of what you do. Take this as a blessing, for soon the conversation will turn to something else, something pleasant, something restful. Have fun with your friends. Share an adventure with your friends. Talk to your friends. They will help you rest.
Leadership is a sobering work. One temptation innate to leadership is to take oneself too seriously. The planet will not fall apart without you, but sometimes it feels like it. Your mind is likely often (always) racing around and around, thinking and dreaming and plotting how to lead your organization or team better. But, eventually, you need to turn that off and laugh a bit. Good friends can help you with this.
A good friend can bring gladness to an otherwise serious life. Laughter is good medicine, and a good friend will make you laugh. Work and leadership and life are hard, so a good friend makes the medicine go down.
Leadership is honorable work. Done correctly, people will look up to, admire, and often seek to emulate you. Jesus, the greatest leader who ever walked the earth, has been and is imitated by millions. But as you step out in leadership, you might be tempted to get a big head about it. You might begin believing some of the great things people say about you. Don’t. If you do, then you have to start believing all the horrible things people say about you, too.
A good friend can help bring the requisite humility into your heart and life. They’ll never be able to bring all the humility you need, but a friend will never take you all that seriously. When a friend laughs at you, rolls their eyes at you, or jokingly mocks you, it can be great for your soul. Get off your high horse. You ain’t all that. A friend helps remind you of this reality.
Leadership is a perplexing work. The questions abound. Wisdom is always needed. And for that wisdom we go to God and man and books and research and up and down and within and without. This search for wisdom can be lonely. Others in your organization might want wisdom, but you feel you are dying for it.
A good friend will often offer you insight that is far removed from your daily grind. And it just might work. As they listen and think and pray for you, their perspective is often on the money. Allowing a friend into your mental space can help you find the wisdom you need.
Many more blessings abound from friendship. Accountability, personal growth, joy, shared experiences, and much more could populate this list. How have you seen friends as a help to your leadership role? Let us follow the example of David and cultivate the friendships God has given us.