Lean on Me

How Many Friends?
By: Author Unknown, Source Unknown

The old man turned to me and asked
“How many friends have you?”
Why 10 or 20 friends have I,
And named off just a few…

He rose quite slow with effort
And sadly shook his head
“A lucky child you are
To have so many friends,” he said

But think of what you’re saying
There is so much you do not know
A friend is just not someone
To whom you say “Hello”

A friend’s a tender shoulder
On which to softly cry
A well to pour your troubles down
And raise your spirits high

A friend is a hand to pull you up
From darkness and despair…
When all your other “so called” friends
Have helped to put you there

A true friend is an ally
Who can’t be moved or bought
A voice to keep your name alive
When others have forgot

But most of all a friend is a heart
A strong and sturdy wall
For from the hearts of friends
There comes the greatest love of all!!!

So think of what I’ve spoken
For every word is true
And answer once again my child
How many friends have you???

And then he stood and faced me
Awaiting my reply
Softly I answered
“If lucky…… one have “I”


I am driving on the highway yesterday morning, upset and crying, as I have become overwhelmed with the current condition of my life. While still in the car, I get an inclination to call a friend, but since it’s still pretty early in the morning, I get the voicemail. I decide not to leave a message, but shortly after I get home the friend calls me back, seeing that they have missed my earlier call. Now I am thinking it was pretty silly to call them, and that I should just deal with things on my own. Why bother someone else with my problems? So I make up another reason for the call, but being the caring person they are, they can tell in my voice that something is wrong. This opens the door to an hour and a half conversation, where a verse in the above poem is truly lived out.

A friend’s a tender shoulder
On which to softly cry
A well to pour your troubles down
And raise your spirits high”

“No man is an island” (John Donne 1624); we can’t endure all the darts life will throw at us, without ducking for shelter in the safety of another sometimes. We especially need that accountability relationship with a person we trust, and feel free to confess our struggles. Someone who won’t pass judgment, but will encourage, listen and gently admonish.

“We must also consider how to encourage each other to show love and to do good things. We should not stop gathering together with other believers, as some of you are doing. Instead, we must continue to encourage each other even more as we see the day of the Lord coming.”(Hebrews 10:24-25)

The writer of the poem tells the old man that he has about 10 – 20 friends, but in this advanced day of technology and Facebook we can have 100’s or 1000’s of “friends”. Let’s not get so wrapped up in the quantity, but focus and develop quality relationships with a person or two who exhibits the characteristics reflected in the poem. Keep in mind also, that if you want that kind of friend you have to be that kind of friend…it’s reciprocal.

Just as you shouldn’t go boating without a life jacket, or rock-climbing without a harness, you shouldn’t navigate life without the safety net of one or two strong accountability relationships. If you lack those kinds of friends in your life, get busy and start building those bonds. If you are fortunate to have those great relationships, keep nurturing them making them stronger, and if the friend that helped me this week is reading this post, thanks again!

“You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17, The Message)


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