This is a continuation of the story of my friendship with James, a straight and very strong “alpha male” type leader. He has constantly challenged me to go beyond what is safe and comfortable to accomplish more of what really matters.

After tutoring James in high school, I assumed I’d never see him again. I went on a 3-year adventure working and living in four different places around the US before eventually moving back to rejoin the same church I’d attended for decades before.

About a year after I returned home, I started noticing James on the other side of the church auditorium. But after several Sundays, I never made the effort to talk to him.

One Sunday, however, James got baptized in front of the whole church and shared his story of genuinely believing in God. Although I certainly recognized him, I saw he was such a “new creation in Christ” that he had drastically changed from who he was in high school.

I had to know more of his story!

I went straight to James after the service. He remembered exactly who I was and gladly hugged me!

James admitted to “faking” being a Christian in high school. But not anymore!

He invited me to a regular prayer meeting he hosted in his parents’ basement, and I took him up on his invitation. When I first descended those basement stairs, I just knew my life was going to be altered.

About 15 guys and girls in their twenties were already downstairs engaged in prayer and worship. I intuitively knew that these people, including James, would be my new friends.

James clearly had a lot of influence over people. My next thought was:

What am I getting myself into?

I regularly attended whatever events James organized. He and I talked about our relationships with God, problems in our church, and future hopes and dreams. Before long, it was clear to both of us that we wanted to work together to see others in our church take their relationships with God more seriously.

I admired James’s all-consuming commitment to action. I believe he admired my steadiness, relative unselfishness, and the way I built trust. We started becoming close friends, so I shared with him that I deal with same-sex attraction (SSA).

He was somewhat surprised but took it in stride. He told me we would remain friends even if I developed an attraction to him. I assured him I would do everything I could to prevent sexualizing our friendship. Our friendship meant too much to me to damage it like that!

James and I are very public in our expressions of affection. We hug and say “love you!” in front of all our friends. Sometimes he playfully puts his hand on my head and totally rearranges my hair in two seconds. I often publicly compliment him on his diligence in seeking truth, his honesty, or his commitment to hard work.

This is how an alpha male like James and I became friends despite our totally opposite personality types — he is a Myers-Briggs ENTJ / Enneagram Type 8, and I’m an INFJ / Type 2.

Despite our differences, we discovered that we shared the one thing most important to each of us: our desire for a deeper relationship with God.

However, no close friendship is ever just uninterrupted warm fuzzy feelings.

Real friendships grow and deepen when they are tested in difficult, painful situations.

My friendship with this alpha male would soon suffer through that kind of test.

Have you ever become friends with someone very different from you? What made the friendship work or not work? Do you have any “alpha male” type friendships in your life, and how do you approach them?

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