Dedicated to the life and memory of Dr. Dan Erickson, my friend
A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.
― William Shakespeare
I am deeply saddened by the loss of my dear friend, Dan Erickson. Were it not for his unconditional love, incredible wisdom, gentle challenges and persistent encouragement, I would not have had the ministry success I experience today. His words to me and probably everyone he ever encountered, you’re the best, reverberate in my soul often and always will.
As you read these five attributes of a friend I know you will be blessed. If you knew Dan you will also see him powerfully as they are unpacked. I pray this blesses you and becomes a challenge toward becoming a better friend.
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24 (NIV)
The first attribute is Commitment. A Godly friend is there for you no matter the circumstances. They are willing to get up a 3 AM and meet you to talk and work through emergencies. They follow through on their promises. When they tell you they will pray about something—they actually pray. Dan was this kind of friend to so many of us. When he knew I had a struggle he would not only pray and offer wisdom, but he would also pick up the phone and want a report on how I was doing. He did not forget.
Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. Proverbs 27:5-6 (NIV)
At a time in my ministry where my own pride was threatening to suffocate what God wanted to pour through me Dan not only recognized it but did something about it. I will never forget the occasion when he gently whispered to me, Vince, you know you must descend before you can ascend. I knew what he meant—and he knew I understood what he meant. Humility is what God is looking for in all of us. Dan not only modeled it—he encouraged others to do the same. The occasion I refer to here was a game changer for me and one I will never forget.
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NIV)
Ok, so if you knew Dan you are saying—no brainer dude—this epitomizes the man. Not only was he famous for the, you're the best encouragements, he also helped you become better in practical ways. I have witnessed first hand this man humbly taking a back seat and give up the platform because he thought it would be better for someone else.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:12-13 (NIV)
You ever have someone in your life that you just know would take a bullet for you? Of course you might expect that from a parent or perhaps your grandparents—but a friend? There was no doubt in my mind that Dan was this kind of friend. When you would hang out with him you just knew he had you’re back.
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)
In Dan’s case it is only fitting that I conclude with this one. Dan was one of the early leaders in the Promise Keeper ministry and was instrumental in brining denominational leaders to the movement. In those days we all remember the phrase taken from our verse…as iron sharpens iron. Dan lived this verse. He believed in the concept that we help each other to grow and that with God’s help and the support of Godly friends, there is nothing we cannot overcome and no limits to what we can accomplish.
Though the loss of my dear friend prompted this message I want you to know that when I recorded this exact program a couple of years ago I actually put it together with Dan as one of my role models. As I conclude I would be remiss if I did not consider what our dear brother would want you to take away from all of this. It would certainly not be a heightened sense of sorrow for him—he is with our Lord now and wearing the crowns brought about by the very attributes he allowed God to work into his life.
Rather, Dan would want each of us to ponder these special qualities and ask ourselves two important questions—one a scale of 1-5:
How would I rate my closest friend(s)?
How would I rate myself as a friend?
Thank you Dan…you truly were and still are, THE BEST.