What is the key to happiness? When people were asked what made their lives happy and satisfying, one of the leading answers was friendships. However, in our fast-paced society, friendships often go neglected because of busy schedules.
In 2008, two professors at Wheaton College conducted a survey of 2,000 students and faculty members on friendships. What they discovered was that many said they lacked time to invest in friendships. The problem is that we were designed for community (Romans 12:5). When we neglect the way God designed us, problems arise. We feel isolated and lonely.
In John 15:15 Jesus set the example, telling His disciples, “I have called you friends.” The Apostle Paul clearly loved his friends in Philippians. He wrote to them, “I thank my God every time I remember you” (Philippians 1:3).
The truth is:
friends are key to our spiritual journeys.
As you think about that statement, who are the friends who come to mind? Can you name a few with whom you feel a close connection? Who do you call for prayer when life crumbles? Who do you celebrate with when life is wonderful?
As I’ve been thinking about friendship, I believe we need three types of friends in our spiritual journeys.
3 Types of Friends for Your Journey
Friends who are grounded in their faith and in your season of life. These are the friends who share your faith and understand your life. Their life may not match yours exactly, but their faith is similar to yours and they have commonalities with you. For example, if you’re raising kids, it’s helpful to have other friends who are also on the journey of raising kids. You can pray together for each other’s kids and cheer each other on when the journey is rough. Or, if you are single and in a thriving career, you need other friends who are in a similar season who understand your life and relate to the challenges you face. If you’re nearing retirement, you need other friends whose journey with the Lord has been deep, and who can encourage you as you face the challenges of growing older. Friendships with those who are in a similar season bond hearts together in our journey to become more Christ-like.
Friends who are farther ahead. Mentors and wise men or women in your life are a gift! These are those who have been walking with the Lord longer than you and bring to your friendship the gift of wisdom. Solomon wrote, “Walk with the wise and become wise” (Proverbs 13:20). When you look at the lives of your mentors, you see Jesus, and you want more of their maturity in your life.
Throughout my adult life, I have had mentors who have cheered me on in my journey with Christ. Linda, Carol, and Margaret have all added wisdom to my life in different ways. Each one is farther ahead on the journey and each is a woman of wisdom. May I ask you, who are the mentors in your life who you look to for wisdom?
Friends who haven’t trusted Christ yet. Each of us needs friends who don’t know the Lord yet, so that they can experience the love of Christ through us. When we look to the life of Jesus, He spent a lot of time with sinners. He had dinner parties with those who the church-going folks would perhaps feel uncomfortable with. Yet, he came to love them! Who have you spent time with who doesn’t share your faith? How are you loving them?
The bottom line is, you can’t live the satisfied, joy-filled life you were meant to live without friends. So, be intentional. Put the effort in. Create the space. And, enjoy your friends! Live the life of community that God intended you to live.
For more on joy and friendship, order a copy of Rooted Joy, the first in the Girlfriend Gathering series. It releases this week on May 2! Be sure to order a few extra so you can gather your girls and enjoy this short study of joy!
This week on The Connected Mom Podcast, Sarah and I will be talking about hosting a girlfriend gathering and filling your life with joy! Be sure to listen and share the episode with a friend!
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