Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

July 8, 2007


How do you tell friends that it is time for them to go home?


      Friends are wonderful. They laugh at your corny jokes. They cheer you up when you are down. They are fun to be with. They are at your side when the bottom falls out of life. They share your life and make you glad to be alive.

          Even so, there are occasions when your friends want to be with you and you are totally exhausted. You do not want to hurt their feelings by asking your friends to leave. So how do you politely tell your good friends that it is time for them to go home?

          For many years my wife and I had no plan for handling this problem. We would simply hang on until midnight when finally our friends would excuse themselves. Usually we said something stupid such as, “Oh I wish you did not have to leave.” I imagine they knew from our drooping eyelids that we were really thinking, “Thank God you are finally leaving!”

          In time we learned that it is important to be honest with people, especially your friends, and tell them the truth. When your supply of energy is gone, it is best to admit it. Friends will understand. They will encourage you to do the right thing.

          Friends can even help you understand when you need to leave their home. We stayed a little long at one friend’s home. Finally he stood up and said graciously, “I know you need your rest since you have a big day tomorrow.”

          Though it was a little awkward, we were not offended. We realized that very likely he was the one who needed good rest that evening. So we departed quickly.

          One friend of mine has a habit of going to bed about nine each evening. When several family and friends stayed at his home past nine, he got up and said, “I have enjoyed our time together. Feel free to stay as long as you will but I need to go to bed. The last one to leave, please turn out the lights and lock the door.”

          The rest of us laughed as he excused himself and soon felt it necessary to leave also. Someone reminded us that our friend gets up every morning at 4:30 to start his work day. He was honest. He needs his rest.

          Albert Schweitzer, the famous missionary to Africa, had a clever way of excusing himself to go to bed. In Colorado raising money for his work, Schweitzer lectured one evening to a large audience. Afterward reporters pressed him to explain what he meant by his phrase, “reverence for life.”

          Schweitzer said, “All right, gentlemen, I will give you one more illustration of what I mean. As of this minute, we are going to start reverencing my life. You are going home, and I am going to bed!”

          Evangelist and missionary E. Stanley Jones lived a quite disciplined life. He went to bed each night at ten. He arose every morning at 5. Rarely did he deviate from his plan. I was with him on several occasions when a question and answer session lasted until ten at night. Without fail, about five minutes before ten, Brother Stanley would stand, thank everyone for the day, and excuse himself. It was his bedtime.

          Perhaps we should all be so disciplined – and so honest. When exhaustion overtakes us, and we no longer have the energy to be good company, surely our friends will understand if we say graciously, “Dear friends, we have had a wonderful time together. Now we must get rest for our duties tomorrow. Let us part in peace and hope to meet again.”

          True friends will be grateful for such honesty and they will welcome another occasion to share together. + + +