A Relationship Reward Worth The Risk


Nothing great happens without risk. That’s true about our relationships as well. I’m not sure it’s a byproduct of maturity, personality, the fact I’m from another culture, or a combination of all of it, but I have found myself taking more risks in my relationships lately. The response has been worth the risk.

Risk and reward relationships

It’s easier and safer to walk alongside my male friends while keeping the relationship on a shallow, trivial level. We men are great at that. We can talk about sports, work, training, and our troubles with women all day long. As a matter of fact, we can spend time with someone for years and never really know them. The American male relational protocol perpetuates this mindset: keep it interesting, keep it light, and keep surface. Introspection, after all, is the stuff of the other gender; the one we do not understand.

I believe we all need to share our stories, to let someone know what’s really going on within our hearts, even the American male.  Most men I know are not forthcoming with personal matters.  Instead of talking openly about their struggles, they drop small hints in conversation that most of the time go unnoticed.

In the past few years I have made a point to follow up on my instincts. It’s not uncommon for me to send a text or email to a friend about something they said, or a reaction to an item in our conversation.  I have found that most of the time my hunch happens to be on the right track and the reply back opens the door for a a whole new dialogue–a much more meaningful exchange.

Cultural biases aside, we all need to find safe people in our lives whom we can share part of our journey. Sometimes the safest person is a new friendship that is not entangled in a deep web of friends, family and work, someone who listens, understands and walks alongside us for a season.

Following up on my instincts has given me the opportunity to become that safe person to some of my friends. In return, however, I have had some of the most honest and powerful conversations with men I had not known for long. As it often happens, these exchanges have been as meaningful to me as they have been to my friends, perhaps even more so to me.

The easier thing to do is ignore the subtle hints during a frivolous banter or to change subject when something serious breaks a humorous conversation. But these are missed opportunities to bless and be blessed, to become a safe person to a someone who needs a true friend, even though he might not know what all that means and how desperately he truly needs a friend.

I know that when I share part of my journey, my struggles and even some of the junk that I work hard to keep hidden, I invite someone into an honest exchange that has the potential of making us both better men. And that’s a risk I’m willing to take.

Have you ever reached out to someone you barely knew? What happened?


  • MarkHJeffress

    Maurilio, this is very timely for me. I have several friendships that are very surface. This is something I needed today. Thank you for the challenge. 

  • CarlLomas

    I reached out to someone a barely knew recently. It was a risk because I did not know how he was going to react, but I’m glad I did. We were able to have some very meaningful and powerful conversations. You are right, we are both better off for it. 

    • Carl, I’m glad you’ve had those conversations. I completely relate.

  • I was in England a few years ago, and I noticed a guy that stayed through all of our outreach events. At the end of the event I went up to the guy and introduced myself. I asked him if he was listening to our message: (we were doing evangelism through music and drama). He said yes, very intently.  In a short time, I found out he was literally hitting bottom, living alone by the river, a marriage falling apart, and unsure of tomorrow. We were able to talk and pray.  Our paths never crossed again, but, it was worth the risk of knowing him in that short time.

    • I talked with a former priest from Brazil online for several weeks years ago. He came to the US and we met and I was able to share my faith with him. We prayed together and he left. It was a great experience.

  • I’m glad for the men in your life that have someone like you to invest into them.

    • I’m thankful for their contribution to my life as well, Jason.

  • Men have such a hard time with this. In our small group last week we were talking about friendships. The women did all the talking until someone pointed out the men were silent. The men chimed in that most of them have no real “friends”…the kind you call at 2 AM when life falls apart. Thanks for the encouragement.  

    • Ron, unfortunately that’s the norm and not the exception.

  • As I’ve become a husband and father the importance of the friendships I have with other men has proved invaluable. However, we do have this wall that is always up and it takes an alert ear and keen eye to see when something more is below the surface.

    • For some reason, men in our culture have short-ganged the value that male friendships can have in our lives.

  • It seems each school year, there are a few new young men that God lays on my heart to reach out to. Each time, I’ve seen that not only am I able to help them get to a deeper level of understanding themselves, and feeling safe to share what is really going on. And the crazy thing is, I end up doing the same. Some of my closest friends are actually 10 years younger than me. It’s crazy.

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  • Josh

    I’m having trouble with a relationship now!!! My brother in Christ and I started a ministry together. Thins where going great God was moving and doing mighty things. Then something happened that broke the comminactions between us. I don’t want to lose my brother over some thing like this. I don’t know how to lead the people involved in the ministry because it was something we started together. What should I do?

    • I would do whatever I have to repair the relationship. I have been to counseling with a friend before so we could work out a personal issue. I hope you can work through it.

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