Let’s begin this month with some thoughts on friendship, with applications to team life. Here is an excerpt from the Book of Sirach in the Septuagint, circa 190 BC. It reflects “classic wisdom” on the nature of friendship. Sometimes folks say this is too pessimistic. Others think it is a sobering appraisal of reality. What do you think, and how does it relate to team life for you?
Note: You can access all 51 chapters of Sirach (also known as Ecclesiasticus) at www.ccel.org/wwsb/Sirach/index.html This site also has links to different translations of Sirach. Chapter 12:8ff has some additional gems on friendship (e.g. In prosperity you cannot tell who is your friend, but in adversity you cannot mistake an enemy.).
Friendship--Sirach 6: 5-175 If you are polite and courteous, you will enjoy the friendship of many people. 6 Exchange greetings with many, but take advice from only one person out of a thousand.
7 When you make friends, don't be too quick to trust them; make sure that they have proved themselves. 8 Some people will be your friends only when it is convenient for them, but they won't stand by you in trouble. 9 Others will fall out with you over some argument, and then embarrass you by letting everyone know about it. 10–11 Others will sit at your table as long as things are going well; they will stick to you like your shadow and give orders to your servants, but they will not stand by you in trouble. 12 If your situation takes a turn for the worse, they will turn against you, and you won't be able to find them anywhere. 13 Stay away from your enemies and be on guard against your friends.
14 A loyal friend is like a safe shelter; find one, and you have found a treasure. 15 Nothing else is as valuable; there is no way of putting a price on it. 16 A loyal friend is like a medicine that keeps you in good health. Only those who fear the Lord can find such a friend. 17 A person who fears the Lord can make real friendships, because he will treat his friends as he does himself.
Some questions to consider:
- How does this advice on friendship reflect the way you interact with others?
- How might your team/group be different if it followed Sirach’s advice?
- With whom are you a "true friend"? How do you know?
- Is Sirach’s advice/caution the de facto approach for most cultures in the world?