Exploring Life’s Purpose with Faith: The Essence of True Friendship
What a gift friendship is! But what causes it to happen? And when it does occur, what sustains it or what destroys it? Many of us have heard the quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “the only way to have a friend is to be one.” I doubt anyone would disagree, yet what is entailed with being a true friend?
I believe friendships are formed because we are made for friendship. Beginning with Creation in the Garden of Eden, God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18a, ESV). Adam needed Eve. This Biblical wisdom for the modern world shows that Adam needed Eve. Throughout Scripture, we see many powerful examples of friendship. In the Old Testament there is much to be learned from the friendships between David and Jonathan, and Ruth and Naomi. In the New Testament, the friendship between Paul and Timothy impacted their lives and callings greatly, an example of spiritual growth.
Becoming Our Best Self
We truly need others to become the best versions of ourselves, for it is within true friendship we are molded through challenges and conflicts, and in encouragement and comfort. In contrast, the absence of deep friendship, and the accountability and transparency it brings, limits our capacity to grow as human beings. This is where concepts of Christianity and psychology intersect, offering mature Christian perspectives on personal development.
Yet friendships, especially those that are deep and lasting, aren’t so easy to experience. They often require the intrusion of impactful circumstances. Shared seasons of life like childhood or schooling can bring people together, and sometimes friendships may stem from serious difficulties. In actuality, the major elements of close relationships are universal. Yet like many other topics, the details go unmentioned or unconsidered.
The Making of a Friendship
Here are a few areas I believe are worthy of emphasis and intellectual Christian discussions. Will you take time to reflect upon the questions and statements listed below each of the areas that follow?
Trust is at the top of the list, and trust is earned by being trustworthy over the course of a long period of time.
- Are you reliable and able to be counted on?
- Do you do what you say?
- Are you honest?
- Do you admit when you’re wrong?
- Do you apologize for your mistakes?
Honesty is next on the list.
- Are you about truth and truthfulness?
- Do you make excuses for yourself, shift blame, or deny when you’ve erred?
- Are you willing to own your blunders?
- Are you vulnerable and transparent, or do you cover up your shortcomings?
My third attribute contributing to friendship is empathy, which requires a willingness and commitment to good listening. I find this to be a rare quality, as it seems more common to experience those who choose to talk about themselves and extend minimal effort to listen. Sadly, these tendencies contribute to having a deficit of empathy. In contrast, my closest friends are good listeners.
Next is loyalty, or our allegiance to support others. Not just in the good times, but even more so when difficulty arises, or loss is suffered. It is when our friends are struggling and not at their best that choosing to remain faithful is most needed.
Another mark of true, long-lasting friendship is sacrifice. The author, W. L. Watkinson said, “Humanity that sacrifices its own for another is humanity at its best.” In God’s Word, Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV), as applied to friendship, supports the value of self-sacrifice. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
While these five traits represent some of the most “weighty” characteristics of friendship, it is also important to highlight the importance of fun and laughter. Friendship truly is a gift from God and intended to bring joy and fulfillment. There is nothing quite like shared laughter to form strong and beautiful bonds with another person.
Supernaturally Empowered Friendships: Faith-Driven Success Principles for Adults
In closing, choosing to be a friend is a wonderful way to live our lives. If we express faith in Jesus as our Savior, it is also what we are called to: serve God and serve others. This is a clear example of faith-based personal transformation, where extending friendship is blessed by God.
Maintaining true friendship happens when we keep our hearts pure before God and always seek to grow. This is a journey of spiritual introspection for adults, where every role in life finds its peak in how much we give of ourselves in that role. Will you begin by giving room for Jesus to fill every part of you with His spirit, power, and love, and then be intentional about extending true friendship to others?
Ron Regenstreif, Founder, Q4 Impact