Friends to Help Grow Faith
By Pam Farrel
Every woman longs to grow in her faith and become the woman God intends her to be, but often we need each other to gain it! We need “fine-tuning friends.” When we have accountability partners or “fine-tuning friends” in our lives, God uses them to tune us up so our lives become a beautiful melody reflecting our Lord.
The term fine-tuning friend comes from two word pictures. The first is from my organization, Seasoned Sisters. “Sistering” is a building term which means to hammer 2 x 4’s together so they can bear more weight. The Bible tells us to “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2). To accomplish this goal we need people to walk alongside us to tune up our life.
Women need to have an accountability partner – someone she can trust to be honest with her about her strengths and weaknesses, someone one who will encourage her in hard times and rejoice in the good. I like to think of an accountability partner like a fine-tuning friend. Like that electric tuner my husband uses to tune his guitar, a well-chosen honest friend can tune up my life.
Accountability isn’t really a biblical term, but the principle is. Exhortation is a term that means called alongside to bring out the best in another. It’s made up of two Greek words: para, which means alongside, and klesis, which means calling. It carries the idea of compassionate encouragement to do your best.
Admonish is also a term that describes the fine-tuning of accountability. It literally means to put in mind. It carries the idea of putting the right thoughts into the minds of others. “Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you” (1 Thess. 5:12).
Accountability really only works if you want it to! The condition of your heart is vital to the success of an accountability relationship. A tender, contrite, repentant heart is fertile ground for God’s best growth. A ready heart is the receptive clay God needs to use your fine-tuning friend as an instrument to mold you for the future God has for you.
Finding a Fine-Tuning Friend
Traits I look for in a fine-tuning friend; she…
- Can keep confidences
- Knows Jesus as well or better than I
- Has been through the fire – so I respect her
- Must have credibility in my eyes if she has to point out something in my life
- Must be able to see my marriage, and my interactions with children, coworkers, volunteers, etc.
- Must be a natural friend whom I’d like to spend more time with
- Must be a prayer advocate who will consistently lift me, my life, and my concerns to God
These traits in a friend have been most helpful in growing my faith. For example, I need a friend who knows Christ at about my same level so as I struggle through life, I know she will send me Scriptures that will get my attention. I need her to be a woman who has gone through a few trials of her own so that she can relate to me when I hit mine – and as I see how she goes through tough times I gain respect and confidence that she will have something to say when I hit my own bumps in the road. I have found if she is naturally a friend of mine, our paths cross enough for her to see into my life so that she gains the perspective to speak truth into my heart. However, the two traits that are most important to me are her abilities to keep a confidence and her desire to pray for me consistently. I have come to believe that prayer is how any forward movement in life is won. I need a friend with whom I can honestly share specifics so that we can commit them to prayer and then trust God to give His answers in His way at His time. The most important prayer of a woman who desires to grow in her faith and integrity is, “Lord, send me a fine-tuning friend!”
Questions for Fine-Tuning Friends to Ask
I was speaking at a retreat and the previous year, the main thrust of the retreat had been to encourage women to find accountability partners. I got to see and hear the results of a whole church of women making that step: many came to personal faith, affairs ended, parenting skills and confidence in mothering increased, businesses started or started running according to godly principles, addictive behaviors ceased, etc. There was excitement in the room as women shared. I believe they were excited because they had a clear confidence they had achieved with integrity.
When I think of my fine-tuning friends, I recall a story of one of the Bible’s great leaders: Moses. God asked him to hold his arms up in praise for the duration of a battle and in doing so, Israel would gain God’s favor and victory would be assured.
Exodus 17:10-12 tells the entire story.
Joshua had fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up – one on one side, one on the other – so that his hands remained steady until sunset, and together they won the battle.
Life is tiring. As a woman who desires to grow, you need trusted friends who can hold you up as the battle of life carries on and on. My fine-tuning friends have held me up in prayer – but also with honest words and with action!
Recently my best friend who I am most honest with, the one who can read the stress on my face and even in my voice over the phone sent me a copy of the same email I had sent her three years ago after my father died. Here are a few of the opening lines:
Thanks for being such a good friend. I have been reflecting lately and I think that you are the closest thing to a best friend I have ever had. No news to you, but I just don’t let myself be totally open and real with hardly anyone. But I am learning to be with you; you ask me the hard questions and pick up on things because you are so clued into pain, because we had some kindred experiences growing up and similar things trigger us. I wanted to thank you for something very small and very natural on your part, but that meant much to me…I needed that expression of closer friendship and you didn’t know it (and I didn’t even know it until it was given). Thanks for being willing to be patient as I learn to be more candid.
This friend and I have encouraged each other through all kinds of issues with our children, through all kinds of seasons, including the deaths of family members, health issues, and personal issues. We have rejoiced together. We are committed to be women who make a difference in the world, for we are kindred spirits, intent to maintain our integrity because we see it as a conduit of influence. However, it is our relationship of honesty that keeps us moving forward in confidence.
She has prayed me through many a book and speaking engagement and is now praying for me as I tackle the “battle of the bulge”! I have encouraged her as she has faced down her own set of fears and stepped into the confidence God had waiting for her.
My fine-tuning friend is like the coat check attendant at the finest of restaurants; she has my number! But she is also ready and willing to get my coat and help me put it on so I can go through the front door and out into the world as a strong woman of faith.
Questions for Growth
- Have you talked to someone about Jesus this week?
- Have you used your time wisely?
- Have you taken the time to thank the Lord this week?
- Have you had your quiet times?
- Have you had a good attitude toward your spouse and children this week?
- Have you said damaging things about another person either behind her back or face-to-face?
- Have you succumbed to a personal addiction?
- Have you continued to remain angry toward another?
- Have you fantasized about a romantic relationship with someone other than your spouse or read or seen any sexually alluring material?
- Have you lacked integrity in your financial dealings? Have you spent recklessly?
- Have you secretly wished for another’s misfortune so that you might excel?
- Have you been completely truthful with me just now