Friends, not Fans


Peter Mathias, the author of this post, is a part of our 2013-2014


Class. To find out more about his residency, visit his

Residency profile page.

To find out more about the Residency Program, visit

I confess, I like when others tell me how great I am (don’t act like I’m the only one).

In college I was part of an on campus ministry at the University of South Carolina. I threw myself wholeheartedly into being part of this group’s leadership. Every time I received accolades from those around me, I felt better about myself. But then that wasn’t enough. I had to strive more and more to get higher praise from those around me. I guess you could say all I was accumulating were fans. However, these “fans” were people I called friends. It was an empty exchange of not letting people come in on my mess. In the end, some of these guys had the guts to call me out on things I was struggling with. They spoke difficult truth to me, I didn’t want to hear it. In the end, I had never felt so loved before.For the first time in my life I now had friends, not just fans.

Do you pursue friends or fans?

Friends Confront

The reality is that none of us enjoy being confronted. If you do, you’re strange. We never wave our hands and yell, “tell me all the things I stink at in life!” When confronted, our instant reaction is often to run and find five other friends who will go against what we’ve just heard. But what if those who confronted us in love were really the people we needed most in our lives?

The Apostle James talks of this:

“My brothers and sisters, suppose one of you wanders away from the truth and someone brings you back.  Then here is what I want everyone to remember. Anyone who turns a sinner from going down the wrong path will save him from death.” –James 5:19-20

We would all agree that a true friend isn’t going to let you slip into a situation that will cause you to die. However, many of us surround ourselves with people who only agree with everything we say. There is no way in this broken world that everything you say and do is correct. Therefore, we need friends that will come beside us and push us toward the truth. We need friends, not fans. We need friends that will speak gospel truth to us and bring us back to what is right when we stray.

When the Going Gets Tough, Friends Get Closer

If you find that most of your friends come in and out of your life, perhaps you are seeking fans and not friends.

A friend sticks around on your bad days, they endure in difficult times, they love you through the mess. Consider the following proverb:

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. –Proverbs 17:17

A true friend digs their heels into the ground with you. They are not easily distracted from their goal for you, to know the freedom of Christ. When you stray from the truth of the gospel, they call you out. It can be painful at times. None of us like to be seen as imperfect. But a real friend loves at all time, they stick with you in adversity.

The challenge is simple. Do you want fans or friends?