I plan to spend a few posts talking about friendship.
We all have many kinds of friends and different levels of friendship.
Here’s the thing: All friendships are not created equal, and that is okay.
In fact, knowing this will help you in the long run. Have you ever had a friendship that disappointed you and left you disillusioned, wondering what went wrong?
If we lump all friendships into one category, we really can’t benefit from the friendship. The Lord brings different people into our lives for different reasons, in different seasons, and by realizing this, and keeping the Lord’s goals in mind, we can be more effective in our ministry to our friends. If we realize that every meeting is God ordained, we’ll be more apt to offer friendship with a God focused mindset.
And if we remember that our friendships are not ultimately about us, but about God’s glory and his ends in our lives and in the lives of others, we’ll be more apt to jump in and offer comfort or aid, lend a listening ear or some advice when asked, or whatever is needed, whether we feel this person is an ideal fit for us or not. Let’s face it, we all come from different backgrounds, have different personalities and weaknesses, and sometimes this prejudices us from extending friendship to someone who is not just like us. Worse, if we believe that every friendship must have the end goal of becoming future BFF’s (to use a seventh-gradish term), we’ll be sorely disappointed by our friendships.
Friendship is ultimately a good gift from God. He modeled it for us on earth, and he called us into friendship with him. He is the reason we know about friendship.
It might help to realize that every friendship has a purpose, and if we are wise and open to God’s leading and are looking for what He might be doing by allowing this “friendship”, we can befriend all kinds of people in all types of walks, in all stages of growth, and in turn will open ourselves up to a broader spectrum of ministry.
All friendships are not created equal and do not have the same end goal.
Here are eight types of friendships. These categories might help you set your expectations and goals for each friendship.
For instance, there are:
1. Acquaintance friendship, where we see each other around once a month, enough to say hello and wave or chit chat for a second.
- the visiting couple at church,
- women I see in town on a regular basis.
- familiar face at the cash register or doctors office
2. Casual friendships, where we see each other on a somewhat regular basis, once a week, bi-weekly, and have at least one common bond in our life.
- women at our homeschool co-op
- other moms at my kids lessons or activities
- women in my own extended family
- friends who are in other ministries but that we see often enough to connect with on a deeper level
- a friend of a friend
3. Close friends who I love and know well: we do many parts of life together and want the best for each other.
- women in our family
- our kids’ teachers
- women in our church
- lifelong friends
4. Women I mentor: younger women who need some help and come to me for advice
5. Women who mentor me: older women or women more experienced than I am in an area of life, who I’ve asked for specific help in areas I struggle with.
6. An intimate friend. An iron sharpening iron kinda friend. A person who you can be totally truthful with in love and they’ll know your heart. They always assume positive intent because they really love you. Usually built over a long time, this friendship that is held together by the glue of love, trust, integrity and looking out for the good of the other person, even if you have to tell them that they are headed in the wrong direction. They accept and give correction and advice if needed without fear of losing your friendship. They are there for the long haul.
7. Women who don’t understand how to be a good friend. (Hurt women who hurt other women.) These are women who don’t seem to know how to accept love from other people, therefore can never love others well. They assume the worst, second guess everyones motives, make caustic comments about other peoples situation. They are fun on a casual level but shallow relationships are all they know. They build walls to hide their own insecurities, put on a masks so that people don’t know the real them (because they’d never love me if they knew me, they assume.) They project their own heart’s motives on other people and assume that everyone acts just like they do…so they don’t trust anyone.
8. A “friend” to avoid. These would include angry women, gossips, those who love to start discord, envious (want what you have) and unloving (does not want the best for you, but for themselves).
Although you cannot have a close friendship with one of these people scripturally, these women are strewn throughout all of our casual friendships, and you may find yourself mentoring a woman who is trying to rid herself of these things.
Have I left out any categories? Have you ever set yourself up for disappointment by expecting more from a friendship than it was able to deliver?
Do you shy away from a friendship because you believe that every friend must be a kindred spirit, when maybe God is calling you to mentor an “unlovely” person? (we are all unlovely in some regard in our lives and could all benefit from the ministry of others to help prepare us to meet the Lord.)
Are you wondering what went wrong in a specific friendship, but are now able to see that maybe you were expecting a kindred spirit, but that was not where the other person was?
Share your thoughts?