Que Hannah Montana’s “True friend” or Toy Story’s “You’ve got a friend in me” to the soundtrack of this post.
To some of us, that word brings pure joy and a flashback into some of the best memories. To others, it only brings back the thoughts of being betrayed or even forgotten. To some, it is a concept that comes and goes all too quickly. To some of us, it is something we long to have yet can’t seem to find.
If we aren’t careful friendships can become self-oriented. However, as people of faith, we have to look at our friendships through the lens of faith. When we do that, we see that friendships are not something God must give us, but instead are something He gifts us with.
When we can get our perspective to that place – viewing friendships as a gift – we start operating in them completely different than the rest of the world. As He freely gifts us with friends, we must freely offer them back to Him. We should always be able to clearly indicate the giver of the gift. If at any time in your friendships, maintaining the gift becomes more important than giving gratitude to the giver of the gift, we have missed it.
Your friendships have the opportunity to be Kingdom friendships. Here me when I say, there are no better friendships than those that have a purpose far greater than cute Instagram pictures and slumber parties on Friday nights.
What are Kingdom friendships? A friend of mine described it perfectly…
“Not just friends; but co-laborers, big dreamers, accountability-holders, truth-tellers, and grace givers. Challengers, cheerleaders, and prayer warriors. The ones who stay, who stand in the gap, and get on their knees on your behalf. It is leveraging every ounce of your friendships for the sake of making Jesus glorified and known.”
Once you find those friends. Keep them. But also always make sure that you are operating in a healthy manner. Even in Kingdom friendships, when the work you are doing could very well be God-honoring, the temptation is still there to become dependent on people. The enemy uses the same schemes. He isn’t creative. In our friendships, he will manipulate you to doubt the security of your friendships, making you think you constantly have to find ways to reaffirm yourself in them. Or he will make you believe the lie that you can’t make it without them.
Friends are great but friends will never be what you need most – Jesus will.
So how do we do it? How do we have healthy Kingdom friendships?
1. Always have open hands
Open hands help us defeat the enemy when he rolls in trying to get us to believe that we are nothing without that friend. Open hands say, “Lord I will receive what you have for me but I will also let you take anything that is not good for me.”
2. Know that you are not the only friend they need
It is easy to be selfish with our closest friends. I have seen and learned over the years that there are things I do not offer to my friends that other people do. I want the people in my life to be the best they can be and that means allowing other people to offer them things that I cannot.
3. Always remember there is a level of individuality to your callings in life
This one is HUGE. Together we can be louder but we must never forget that the plans God has for our lives are uniquely tailored to us as individuals. In Kingdom friendships, your friends will have a role in the plan God has for you, but ultimately we must never lose sight of the fact we are not called to follow people, we are called to follow Jesus. When He says, “go” we must go despite who goes with us. At times you will cheer your friends on from the side stage and other times you will cheer from afar and they will do the same for you.
The best way you can honor the individuality of someone’s calling is to step back when needed. You never want your fleshly desires to wavier your friends from the work God might have for them. Hello, as girls, of course we want to do all the things with our besties. Of course we will be biased at times. Let them always tune into the Holy Spirit and not you. Sometimes you get to go together. Sometimes you have to let them go. Sometimes you have to let them stay.
4. Pray for them
As people, we can never be for someone what they need most. We cannot put unrealistic expectations on our friends and then be offended when they don’t measure up. Expectations are premeditated resentments. In the same way, we cannot try to be to something to them we are incapable of.
What you can do is pray for them. Get them to tell you what their needs are and then go to the throne on their behalf. Not only are you interceding for them but you are recognizing your place. He is God and we are not. Check yourself when it comes time to offer advice. Are they more of your words? Or are they scripture? Your friends need you but they need Jesus more.
5. Be children
Yes, give it all you got. Be as loud as you can for the sake of the gospel. Challenge each other but never lose the chances to just be kids. Pull the all-nighter. Take the road trip and sing off key. Eat the tub of cookie dough. Laugh until you cry. Jesus is really clear about the importance of child-like faith. In the same way, I believe that should roll over into our friendships. Have moments in your friendship when you can be child-like.
Your people are out there. You will find them. God will bring them when the time is right. When you get them, do the work to keep the friendships healthy. If you are waiting for them, this is your chance for the Lord to build up in you a reliance on Him that will only benefit your friendships that are to come.
Friends are gifts but the Giver of the gift is what we must never lose sight of.
Did you know that the Giver Himself offers Himself fully to you? Despite what you might feel or be living in right now, you always have a friend in Him. He’s better than any friend this world could offer.
“No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends…” John 15:15