Friendship. It’s something that all of us need for our emotional health and for our growth.
Yes, some people cultivate a long list of friends…and others are content with just a select few.
Some friendships last for only a season of our lives…others might be lifelong.
A person might have thousands of “friends” on Facebook, but few who really know them behind their electronic facade.
How many great friends do you have? And what makes for a truly great friendship, anyway?
Although I spend my life talking about the importance of encouragement, I wouldn’t put that at the top of the list.
In my mind, there are two essential (are very rare) qualities in a great friend: the person is both trustworthy and candid.
Trustworthy: When you are vulnerable and share personal details with a friend, you want the issue to stay with them. For your friend to be “a vault.” To know that whatever personal detail you have shared will not be passed along to anyone else unless you have explicitly given permission.
How many times have you heard a juicy tidbit about someone shared as a “prayer request?” Or been told: “This is really confidential…so please don’t tell anyone, but…” It’s fair to assume that if a person will share another friend’s secret, they’ll likely do the same with yours. Best to keep your guard up and your lip zipped with that individual.
Candid: A friend who will “speak the truth in love” is even more rare.
A great friend might:
Tell you what you don’t want to hear.
Advise you whether or not to take a particular course of action.
Share red flags she might see in your relationship with another.
Challenge you not to give up. Or tell you it is time to change course.
Identify “stinking thinking” or lies you are believing.
Hold the mirror up to show you destructive behavior.
Do you have even one friend in your life who embodies these two qualities? If not, ask yourself these 4 questions:
Have you given your closest friends permission to “speak truth” into your life?
If they have given you “hard to hear” feedback before, how have you responded? Did you withdraw because their message stung? Or subtly retaliate by immediately telling them something you decided they needed to hear?
If you already have a friend who demonstrates these qualities, does it go both ways? Does she welcome your candid perspective in her life? One directional truth telling seems to be more a form of control than true friendship.
Can you be trusted when confidential issues are shared with you?
Great friendships don’t generally happen overnight. Trust builds slowly. But, oh, what a difference a great friend can make in your life! As the proverb says: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
If you’re never experienced this kind of friendship, I hope 2015 is the year that you do. Risk being vulnerable. Open yourself up to honest feedback. Make a commitment to being trustworthy. Most of all, ask God to help you cultivate a great friendship. It’s truly a gift from Him!