The Art of Friendship
By Jill Briscoe
All of us need friends. Some might say, well I’m married—and my husband is my best friend. I believe women need women friends, especially as we seek to serve Jesus –our best friend. Serving in church and missions brings stress and strain. Finding heart partners, or women friends, makes us better servants.
Over the years God has gifted me with many wonderful “heart partners” as I call my friends. Whatever would I have done without them? What sort of friends have I had? All sorts, shapes, ages, colors, nationalities, and sizes! A friend of mine told me she has a shopping friend, a prayer friend, a fun friend, and a challenging friend who drags her along to all sorts of classes to stretch her mind. Sometimes you can get all these friends and more wrapped up in one friend - but not always.
I noticed David had two friends he was eternally grateful for. He had Jonathan and he had Nathan. Whatever else other friends bring into our lives, we all need the elements David found in these two friends.
Jonathan loved David as his own soul. David could do no wrong. Jonathan offered David his kingdom and said he would serve him. He almost worshipped David! We all need such unconditional love from a friend.
Nathan loved David too, but he showed his love by keeping David’s feet to the fire and not letting him get away with sin. “Thou art the man,” he said, after confronting David with his adultery with Bathsheba. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Prov. 27:6). I thank God for the Jonathans and Nathans in my life—I am a better friend and servant because of them. Of course if you have friends you must be a friend first—it is a two way street this art of friendship.
“But how can I be a good friend?” you may ask. Let me use an acrostic.
Find a common interest and pursue it. Study together, Serve together. Have fun together. Laugh together. Learn a new skill.
Remember to be honest and open with each other. Make sure you can be trusted to keep secrets. Gossip kills friendship!
Intercede together. Nothing draws you closer than praying together - use the phone, e-mail, or snail mail.
Encourage each other when times are hard. Just “be there” when trouble comes. Have a ministry of quietness.
Nurture your friendship. Read a book a month and discuss it. Take a growth class at church. Serve together. Go on a mission’s trip. Serve a meal at the rescue mission. Listen a lot.
Discover God together. A test of friendship is to be quiet together! Try it!
All these things work in measure for long-distance friendships, too.
Finally, think of the friends you have had in the past. What happened? Maybe there are some sorrys to be said, or thank yous to be offered. Are there people in your life whose friendship was lost and could be renewed? When all is said and done, friends are too precious a commodity to loose for whatever reason. Life is too short to fall out with people.
If we will examine and evaluate our human friendships before God, He will be delighted to help us build better relationships. He who said He counted His disciples His friends, wants us to enjoy the gift of human friendship. He also knows how building our friendships will help us to be better friends with Him.