The Sportsman’s Bond

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When I think back to some of the most formative years of my life, like college, the people I think of first are the ones I spent time in the outdoors with. Some friends and I would look forward to spring break every year because it was a time for all of us to get our noses out of the computer screens and focus on catching rainbow trout in the Missouri Ozarks. Through that, we forged some of the most lasting friendships I have in my life today. Relationships built in the outdoors have to be some of the greatest blessings we experience in the outdoor lifestyle.

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God cares about our relationships. He wants us to initiate, grow, and enjoy the people he places in our lives much in the same way Jesus did. John 15 is one of Jesus’ most warm moments with his disciples. In verse 15, Jesus says, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”

Clearly, Jesus is still The King of Kings in this passage, but he chose to consider the men he is speaking to his friends. The reason? He has shown them what the father has shown him. He has shared who he is, and his life’s mission, with the ones closest to him. They have shared their lives with him as well. This took time, commitment, intentionality, and a willingness to sacrifice.

That’s the beauty of relationships forged in the outdoors. Spending time is a given, but being strategically committed to one another’s success, and willing to sacrifice for it are the bonding agents. It’s the reason so many of our outdoor loving friends are our closest friends.

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I’ll never forget spending three days in the canyons of west Texas with a dear friend chasing Rio Grand turkeys. We hiked ten miles before connecting with our first bird. It was exhausting! When we were done with our short hunt, we were closer than we had ever been before because we spent those three days doing everything in our power to meet a shared goal, and we were successful in doing it. Our friendship began with a cold call to discuss a camo partnership for a ministry I was working with. Now, we talk on a weekly basis.

Why do we get so excited when our friends text us their latests trail cam photos? It’s because they have a chance at an awesome experience. Why do we put so much collective work into putting in duck blinds? So we and our friends can have great hunts together. We’re thinking about the other person’s success. It’s a moment in our lives that we are successful in denying ourselves and placing someone else first.

I don’t believe this is limited to the outdoors. When we apply the principle of two people mutually putting one another first and purposely growing a relationship with one another, regardless of the context, we are living by God’s design.

Who are some of your closest outdoor loving friends? Why is spending time in the outdoors so valuable to all of you? Leave a comment!