‘…there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.’
– Proverbs 18:24
As I was meditating on this particular Proverb, I couldn’t help but think about our 16,000 partners that make up PruittHealth. The relationships we have with our co-workers have the power and potential to reflect what this proverb is teaching. Allow me to explain.
The writer of Proverbs is telling us that there is a ‘familial loyalty’ that comes with being related to people by blood. In other words, family will usually be there for you simply because they are related to you. There is an ancestral obligation that each of us carries for our relatives. That is a loyalty based on family obligation.
But a friend is someone who chooses you. Friendship is born, not out of obligation, but rather out of shared experience—usually difficult shared experience. Proverbs 18 says this person will stick closer than a brother. The word sticks comes from a Hebrew word that’s often translated in the Old Testament as cleave. It means commitment out of a passionate love. This kind of friendship brings something into your life that mere obligation cannot bring, and therefore nothing else comes close to a true friend. But what is interesting is that because we live in such an individualistic culture, this kind of deep friendship is often overlooked and yet it is irreplaceable. Why? It is irreplaceable because we all experience troubles and tragedies and difficulties and storms. But without deep friendship in your life, without others to go through it with us—we’ll sink. We cannot make it through trials and tribulations without this kind of deep friendship and community.
The people we work with, even those we don’t know very well, are prime candidates for this kind of friendship. Simply put, when we spend 40-50 hours a week, working side-by-side, arm-in-arm together with others, that kind of shared experience is fertile ground for cultivating the kind of friends that Proverbs 18 writes about. That means the people we work with are intrinsically valuable to us, and we to them!
Think of it this way. The individuals you work with are like threads in a garment. A thread by itself is so fragile, but if you take thousands of threads and interweave them together so that they are deeply interdependent, then they become a piece of fabric that is enormously strong and infinitely beautiful. Our human lives, individually, by ourselves—are fragile. But together, interwoven into the lives of each other, we become enormously strong and infinitely beautiful as well. This is true in our horizontal relationships with each other and equally true in our vertical relationship to God.
Jesus says when you interweave with me, I will interweave you into a community that is going to be deeper and more beautiful than you can possibly imagine! Through His sacrifice, Jesus cleaves to us with an unbreakable commitment born out of passionate love for us. When we come along side one another, we are imitating that same commitment and that same passionate love for others. Take a moment today to reach out to your co-workers and tell them how much you appreciate the work that they do and the sacrifice they make.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for the people I work with. Thank you for their commitment to me and their dedication to one another. May I be a living demonstration of that same commitment to them as we work along side one another to do the good you have called us to do. Amen.
Dr. Dave Lescalleet serves as the Director Chaplaincy for PruittHealth.