On Friday March 6th, the newly acquired Michigan head football coach, Jim Harbaugh, made his way down to Mesa, Arizona to visit the Oakland Athletics Spring Training camp. Coach Harbaugh suited up in Oakland green and gold with his old number 4 jersey and gave a go as 1st base coach for the A’s as they hosted the Anaheim Angels.

As much as I would like to believe Coach Harbaugh is just a die hard A’s fan, the fact is that the A’s manager, Bob Melvin, and Harbaugh go back years to when they played on the same Palo Alto little league baseball team. Although Harbaugh did a great job calling in the winning run in the A’s 8-7 rout of the Angels, it’s not first base coaching skills that we can learn from Harbaugh as much as its his relentless commitment to relationships.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

Proverbs 17:17 (NIV)

I think it’s easy for anyone to feel like their life is too busy for deep friendships. Maybe we feel like we can only be close to our one roommate or to just their spouse rather than having that same relentless pursuit of friendships of all kinds.

In the same way that iron sharpens iron, a person sharpens the character of his friend.

Proverbs 27:17 (Voice)

When life gets busy it’s so easy to put the blinders on and go into survival mode rather than doing what it takes to keep up spiritual friendships. Check out this quote from Coach Harbaugh speaking of his friendship with Melvin.

He’s the best,” Harbaugh said of Melvin. “Good friend. … He’s so detail-oriented, so organized. He’s got a great relationship with his players. He loves his players, and I respect that. Just probably the best thing is when we talk and text during the season, and I have something to bounce off him, he’s always very responsive and very helpful.

I believe that without even knowing it, Harbaugh exemplifies what it takes to keep spiritual friendships. Admiration, respect, excitement, phone calls and texts when life gets busy, getting advice and valuing their opinion, being responsive and working to help each other out.

Harbaugh and Melvin’s business is professional sports, and that’s what they’re helping each other do better. For us who are working to have a relationship with God, our business is becoming the best disciple we can be. Are you determined to build those spiritual relationships? Are you doing what it takes? Who could you connect with today and begin to build that stronger spiritual bond with?

Although Harbaugh may have coached his last baseball game, from the looks of things it’s safe to say the coaching friend duo will be around for some time.

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