According to Kinky Friedman’s Guide to Texas Etiquette, “You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you can’t wipe your friends off on your saddle.” I’m thankful for true friends who haven’t wiped me off in spite of my physical infirmities and spiritual wanderings. Last week I had dinner with two of them: Bruce McNicol and Andy Holloman.
I met Bruce in 1974 and in 1981 he became my brother-in-law. Despite this liability he’s gone on to lead two national ministries, the latest being Truefaced, and to write a few bestsellers, the latest being Bo’s Café. Andy and I met in 1987. Today he’s one of the top American Family Insurance agents in the country and an active school board member here in Colorado Springs.
Both men are consummate “Connectors” as the term is used in The Tipping Point. They possess the “ability to span many different worlds (as) a function of something intrinsic to their personality, some combination of curiosity, self-confidence, sociability, and energy.” Each has enough contacts in his phone to fill a concert hall.
The three of us were part of a cadre that included John McCallum, Bill Conard, Paul Regan and some other great people at Interest Ministries from 1989 to 1995. Based in Chicago, Interest was a progressive service organization in a conservative denomination (Plymouth Brethren). We offered innovative programs in church planting and leadership development that drew the ire of the powers that be.
Our sins included fostering change among local churches, fraternizing with “liberal” Christians and featuring non-Brethren speakers at our conferences. I’ll spare you the internecine details but a lawsuit ensued. We got fed up and resigned. Bruce, Andy and I headed different directions but have remained close.
I am fortunate in that this isn’t the only band of brothers to which I belong. Through the years I’ve enjoyed camaraderie with small groups of men who tolerate and even encourage me. They patiently listen to my babblings and laugh at my warped sense of humor, being somewhat warped themselves.
Gatherings like the Brethren Happy Hour and the Old Chicago Literary Society have sustained me though good times and bad. Next to family, friends like these are the most cherished gifts I’ve been given in life.
“A true friend is one who thinks you are a good egg,
even if you are half cracked.”