Back when I was a self-absorbed 20-year old, I used to say, “Make friends with everyone—you never know when you’re going to need them.” At the time, it was meant to be sarcastic. Now that I’m a little older and hopefully a little wiser, I realize the saying has some validity to it.

30 years ago, I wanted to “make friends” with people so they could help me. Now, I realize that making friends with a variety of people has many more benefits, not the least of which is that I may be able to help someone else someday. Turns out helping others makes you feel pretty good, too.

Buy Insurance Before the Accident
Calling State Farm to purchase collision insurance doesn’t help you much when you’re sitting on the side of the road in a crumpled up car. It’s pretty key to get that insurance purchased first. The same goes with professional relationships.

I once called the owner of a company to see if he could possibly bail me out of a jam. When he took my call, he was on the top of a mountain camping with his family. Not only did he take my call, but then called the shop and told them to help me with whatever I needed.

He took my call because I had spent a few years getting to know him as a person. I helped promote his brand, and I believe we have a real friendship. We’re not BFFs, but if he was in town and his car broke down, I’d go pick him up.

When our church wanted to do a multi-camera shoot for our Christmas production, I reached out to a local church in town to see if I could borrow their fly pack. Not only did they lend me the fly pack, they also gave me three cameras to use. All I had to do was pick it up and drop it off.
That happened because I had spent a few years getting to know the TD, hanging out at events, going to lunch and building a relationship. Occasionally he called me for advice on a piece of gear. We helped each other because of relationships.

A friend of mine was part of a church plant in SoCall once. They were putting together their tech on a real shoestring budget and ran out of money before they bought a projector. He mentioned it at lunch one day and asked me to pray about it. I told him his prayers were already answered; I had two extras sitting in my audio closet that had been replaced, but we kept them around just in case since they still worked fine. He swung by a few days later and they were set for a few months.

It’s All About Relationships
If you ever listened to Church Tech Weekly back in the day, you know it was a running joke to see how fast we got to relationships in each episode. We could be talking about audio compression and ten minutes in, we’d be talking about relationships.

It always saddens me when I get into a conversation with a church tech guy and about the time I suggest he reach out other church techs in his area, he tells me he doesn’t know any other church tech guys nearby. I remember sitting in my boss’s office years ago and mentioning, “How is it that I’ve been here in SoCal for 2 years and I already know more people in more churches than everyone else on staff?”

How is it that church leaders don’t talk to each other? We’re all on the same team—it’s not a competition. Back when I owned a video production company, I knew and talked with other small production companies in town all the time. We borrowed gear and shared experience. I am friends with most of the guys at all the large integrators in the country. And we are in competition with each other!

But the key to it all is building relationships before you need them. When a sprinkler pipe bursts in your auditorium and you have no one to call for help, it’s going to be a rough weekend. On the other hand, if it happens to a church down the road and you can’t help because you don’t know each other, that’s a loss for you.

The Church is stronger when we’re all working together. So go make some friends.

View all the posts in this series.