I’m a guy. I’m a southern, american guy to be specific.
The demographic to which I belong isn’t known to be the most contemplative, thoughtful, or expressive group on planet Earth.
However, last Friday I was struck with a realization of sorts that resulted in a great deal of appreciation for a specific person God placed in my life.
Almost nineteen years ago I went to Charleston Southern University and met a guy named Phud. Yep, you read that correctly. Phud. His real name is John Chambers, but to many of us he will always be Phud. (It’s a nickname from a camp he worked at for several summers)
Over the next four years Phud and I became friends and eventually shared a dorm suite. We spent a lot of time together. I borrowed his truck for dates, we played a lot of volleyball, learned to play guitar, spent way too much time watching Seinfeld and playing Mario Kart. We even started a band.
Eventually we started doing ministry together. A ski trip here, a youth group event there. We became Student Pastors at separate churches but continued to work together whenever possible. He was there when I received the news that one of my students had died. It was a defining moment for me in ministry.
We were at each other’s weddings; we became parents around the same time; and to make things even more strange, we unknowingly bought the exact same living room furniture.
Phud and I are now both pastors of our own respective church plants in Rock Hill, South Carolina. He planted Remedy Church in 2009, and I planted Grace Collective Church in 2014. He has been an invaluable resource in my process. Encouraging, challenging, compassionate, humorous, and wise.
Back to last Friday.
Phud asked me if I could help him with something. Reluctantly he explained that he needed me to sing at a funeral. Not the most enjoyable favor he could have asked of me. I agreed. It was the least I could do for my friend.
Turns out this was the first funeral Phud had ever served as pastor. How fitting that we found ourselves serving together again at this milestone of sorts. I was sitting beside the platform listening to Phud preach a message of hope and salvation to a group of people mourning the loss of a loved one.
I was proud of my friend.
I’m proud to be his friend.
And I’m thankful that God saw fit to bless me with the enormous gift of a friendship that has stood the test of time.