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Today is the 35th birthday of my bud, Ned Alexander. Ned is one of those guys that can honour you, offend you and make you want to be his friend (or his mortal enemy) in the span of 10 minutes. He is ridiculously generous and one incredible servant, and no one has ever made me want to punch their face, as much as Ned Alexander Gautam.

Being his friend, neighbour, pastor and groomsmen has taught me many lessons. I choose to share them with you today, because it’s possible you won’t have the privilege I have of being his friend.

My Life tips from Ned:

1. Don’t wait to get into people’s lives. In less than 24 hours after meeting Ned he had already sat on my lap to chat, told my wife she was hot, and slept in the same room as us (in his underwear). The dude sucks with boundaries. And I love him for it.

2. Be kind even when you don’t feel like it: Back in 2008, we were in West Africa together. Most white people who go there get diarrhea. But Ned got constipated. Really, really bad. Yet throughout that whole trip, he made me feel important, played soccer and music with the kids, cooked my wife and I a French meal (mostly with expired food) and encouraged me crazily, even when I failed miserably.

3. Be a non-judgemental compassionate giver: I have witnessed Ned caring for the poorest and most needy in our city – more than anyone else I know. One time he made friends with a homeless man, fed him good food every time they met, and brought him to church continually for months. Another time, Ned took into his home, a pain-in-the-butt teenager and mentored-pastored-fatherd him even though he continually made trouble for Ned and his wife. He also set up a homeless family who were living in their car, with a house and a job and lots more. Most of those times he’s gone out of his way to help those who need it, such people have still ended up making bad choices for their future. But, Ned never stops believing the best in everyone. It’s annoying how much he is like Jesus sometimes, and his life is a challenge and a reminder of the true Gospel.

4. Dream silly and trust God: Back in 2009, Ned told me he was going to start delivering random fruits and vegetables to people’s homes. The plan was to go to the Farmers Market, buy whatever was fresh and/or local and deliver it to families every Saturday. I thought, “Americans like choices, control, choosing what they want. This will never work, Ned is a dummy!” Well, say Hello to Go Local Produce, a local business with hundreds of weekly customers every week. I am one of them. And I also help the business with media and web. So in a way, I am now Ned’s employee. Who’s the dummy now?

5. Learn how to cook food from scratch: Ned cares about things being good, tasting good, actually being good for you. He picked that up from his mom, and he picked it up well. If you go over to his house Ned will never ask you to do anything, just sit back and enjoy the feast. He’s also a genius because then he married a beautiful Nepalese girl called Rosy, taught her his cooking skills and she made it to the top 100 of Master Chef. So she does all the cooking now. And she does it even better than him! – (Another shameless plug for their company – Check out her Video Recipes)

6. Celebrate Yourself: Every Christmas there is a party called Ned-Mas. Yep. Named after Ned. Every year. And every year the guests are required to have a skit prepared to perform for Ned and Rosy. Yeah. As if they were King and Queen. Which actually, I think they think they are. So people come. And perform for Ned and Rosy and dress up for Ned-Mas (The annual party named after Ned). Because if God says you’re important, it’s good idea to agree with Him. I know Ned does.

7. Follow your heart: One time Ned was leading worship but stop singing and started reading from the book of Ezekiel (From the parts that no one can understand) He did it for 20 minutes straight. It was awkward and terrible. But He thought it was the right thing to do. So he did it till someone told him to stop. Then he was humble about it and admitted that it sucked. But he followed his heart through and through, and that is best thing anyone can do.

8. Be uncomfortably honest: Some people might say that Ned is inappropriate. Yes, his comments can be daring, but I see them as bold. (And also inappropriate). But mostly bold. And honest is always better than fake.

9. Be faithful to your friends: No joke. This guy has been there for me in the highest and the lowest. He calls me when life is sucking for him and gets into my life when it is sucking for me. We can hang out and do mindless things, whilst at the same time, have the deepest conversations possible in the male-relationship-realm. He’s like the white-hipster brother I never wanted. But gosh darn it, I’m so glad he’s part of my life.

So here’s to my friend Ned. Like the Bible says, Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family. Proverbs 18:24

Happy Birthday my brother. I am praying that at 35 you finally get to make a baby, become a millionaire and see the revival your heart desires. I love your heart, I’m so impressed by how you serve people and I admire how you love Jesus and Rosy so well. I am properly proud to call myself your friend and it is a true honour to know such a Godly man of strength, wisdom and integrity.

If you know Ned, leave a comment for him (I force him to read this blog daily) If you don’t, then find your jerkiest friend and let them know how much you care.