A friend wrote to me saying that my recent posts about C.H. Spurgeon had persuaded him to read more which opened up many themes about this great preacher. And there are many! Before I move on in further blog ramblings let me mention a book in my library: Spurgeon and his friendships by Cunningham Burley, who relied heavily upon the insights of Spurgeon's oldest son, also called Charles Spurgeon.
The book claims that Spurgeon possessed the genius for making friends. A great personality yes, but he had the grace of receptivity. He 'cheerfully admitted that he owed much of his ascendancy as a leader and author to the loyalty of his comrades and the love of his friends.'
The range of friends is listed under different headings. Wonderfully it begins with Susannah his wife, and Charles and Thomas his sons. In spite of all the pressures he genuinely valued his family as friends. This is a good reminder for Father's Day this coming weekend.
Ministerial Friendships include Joseph Parker, Alexander McClaren, Dwight Moody and De Witt Talmage- it is challenging to see his warm open links with other great preachers of his day. How preachers should admire this when competitiveness and jealousy can so easily prevent such friendships. I have books on and by all these men and it is thrilling to think they were friends.
Philanthropic Friendships include William Booth, Lord Shaftesbury and George Muller.
Soul Kinships - John Ruskin, William Gladstone, Henry Ward Beecher, Robert Louis Stevenson...but also children. Friendship with children marked out his ministry.
Dumb Companionships includes 'Dick' the cat, 'Punch' and 'Gyp' - his dogs.
Looking at this list and reflecting on these different headings leads to personal questions about my grace of receptivity and who might belong in my circle. It really makes you think, doesn't it?