I have had some wonderful friends over the years. But there has always been something very unusual about my friend Billy Webb. And actually, it took me a while to figure out what is so special about this particular friend.
Billy has a terrific sense of humor. His stories, mostly about himself, are legendary. I love to be with Billy, partly because he makes me laugh. And even though I love to laugh, this isn’t the thing that so endears me to this friend. I have lots of other friends who also make me laugh.
Billy Webb loves God and truly wants to be a husband and father who honors Him. We’ve talked many times about this dimension of our lives, but even that isn’t what is so important to me about this friend. I am blessed to have a number of friends who also want to be God’s man.
Billy Webb is an extraordinarily successful businessman. His record of victories has put him in the kind of fiscal condition that many men can only hope for. But that isn’t what’s so important to me about this friend. Quite a number of my friends have found success in the marketplace.
Billy loves Mexican food and knew where the best places in town were to get the authentic stuff. But I have lots of enchilada-and-fajita-loving buddies.
Then, one day several years ago, it hit me. Billy is a hand-written-thank-you-note man. From the very first time we got together for lunch (Mexican, I’m sure) until our most recent outing, I’ve always received something in the mail a few days later from him. It’s not long and drawn out. In fact, it usually fits on one side of a 4x6” card, but with these notes, Billy tells me “thank you.” Even when he has picked up the tab for lunch, he thanks me for my time and for my friendship.
After receiving a few of these, I went out and bought my very own “thank you” cards so I could be a “Billy Webb” in the lives of other men, just like Billy has been in mine.
The apostle Paul was a “Billy Webb” kind of friend. He opened nearly every one of the 13 letters we have in the New Testament with a “thank you.” This letter to the church in Philippi is especially strong: “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel,” he wrote (Phil 1: 3‑5).
Can you understand why Paul was so loved by so many . . . why he was so important in the hearts of these Christians? One of the reasons was surely this: Paul was a man who was truly thankful for them. Because he was a thank-you-note man, did this mean that Paul was a push-over? Hardly. Paul faced difficult issues with a vengeance. He called people to account for their deeds, gave them clear instructions on how to conduct themselves, and warned them of the direction in which they were headed. But somehow, they were able to hear what he had to say in his letters. Why? Because Paul was a man who always started with “thank you.” He was not afraid to let his friends know how thankful he was for them and how much he appreciated the good things they had done.
Are you a “Billy Webb” kind of hand-written-thank-you-note man in the lives of your children and your wife? To your friends? Don’t you think this is a good idea?
It only takes a moment, but the dividends are astonishing. Try it. You’ll see.
This post honoring my friend, Billy Webb, was written in 1998. Three weeks ago today, this priceless friend stepped into heaven. This is why I penned this one last note to him. I will forever be grateful for his friendship and clear example of the kind of man I want to be. Thank you, Billy. I can’t wait to see you again.