Writer Malcolm Gladwell wrote a best seller called The Tipping Point. In that book he says the average person has the capacity to know about 150 people. You know their names. You know how they are related to you. You know what they do for a living, and about where they live. To put it another way, if you were at Starbucks and they showed up unannounced you would be OK with asking them to sit by you and share a cup of coffee.
But Gladwell dials it down and talks about another group within the 150. He calls it the sympathy group. He says the number in that group is about 10 to 15 people. This smaller group is made up of people who would be devastated should we die. We in turn we be crushed if they were to pass. These are the people you would like to grow old with. These are the people you enjoy being around. You both add value to one anther.
Everyone needs a sympathy group within the circle of 150. Here’s the difference. The large group of 150 happens naturally, and easily. You get a job, go to class, walk to the bus stop and you’ll get that group of 150. But, those in the sympathy group don’t magically appear at your doorstep. The sympathy group takes time, attention, and intentionality. Those friends develop as we step out of our comfort zone to sew the first seeds of friendship.
Psalm 90:10; 12 – The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away… So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
In the business of life we can over look cultivating friendships. I want to ask you today, “Who are your friends? Who’s in that circle of 10 to 15, that sympathy group? Who could be in that group? Who would you like to be in there?” I think its important to be intentional about this because friends like this don’t magically appear, and time isn’t slowing down.