Friendships inside and outside the church: Your choice to make

Moving to our first church where David was called to be pastor was an exciting adventure. People met us as the moving van pulled up, waiting to help us unload and get our home (the parsonage) settled. The kitchen was stocked with groceries and meals prepared to carry us over for the next week. The possibilities for friendships were many.

Fast-forward seven years, when we moved to plant a church. The moving van pulled up to our temporary housing and only my parents and brother-in-law were there to unload our belongings. No food in the fridge, no meals forthcoming. Where were all the people waiting to be my friends?

Although these are very different scenarios, they have one thing in common: The choice of friends was mine to make. George Washington once said, “Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.”

So, how does one go about making friends, the kind that love at all times and stick with you no matter what? Here are three tips:

Be willing to initiate. “A woman who has friends must show herself friendly.” (Prov 18:24 KJV). Friendly people are courageous people — they take the initiative to reach out, to take the first step.

I called her and asked to meet at a local coffee shop for “hot beverage.” She readily agreed and was curious about why I had called. She was a good friend, I knew her well, but was longing for something more. So I said, “I need a soul friend.” She was surprised but delighted, and we met twice a month on Thurs at Panera until we moved.

Share and pursue common interests. C.S. Lewis once said, “Lovers are normally face-to-face, absorbed in each other; friends side-by-side, absorbed in some common interest.”

She came to our church for the first time on a Wednesday evening. After taking her older kids to their groups, she came to the prayer group, pushing her youngest in a stroller. Little did I know, I was meeting a friend who would serve side-by-side with me in ministry, who would do life together with me, who would become a friend for life.

Take time to invest. “Friendship is an opportunity to act on God’s behalf in the lives of the people we’re close to, reminding each other who God is. When we do the hard, intimate work of friendship, we bring a little more of the divine into daily life.” — Shauna Niequist

Send a text, write a note, go for a walk, meet for coffee. One friend I know has a monthly phone date with a friend in another city. Another makes a weekly list of friends she will pray for and connect with that week. Commit to invest.

She was my friend and on staff at the church where my husband was pastor. When I found out I had cancer and would have to have radiation and chemo, she got busy organizing meals and rides. She sat with me during treatments. At Christmas, she asked what our family’s favorite desserts were and arranged for them to be made by women in the church. She never said, “Call if you need anything.” She saw the needs and acted on them.

Is friendship worth the effort? Absolutely!

  • The right friends will raise your game, help you become a better person.
  • The right friends will teach you how to be a good friend.
  • The right friends will replenish your soul and help you regain perspective.
  • The right friends will make such a beautiful impact on your life, you can barely remember what life was like without them.

In High Call, High Privilege, Gail MacDonald shares this story that truly sums up the heart of friendship:

Elizabeth Mauske wrote about a Latin American Indian woman who used to frequently visit Elizabeth’s mother. The visitor knew no Spanish, and Elizabeth’s mother knew nothing of her Indian language. Still she came. The two women would drink tea, smile, and gesture, and then the Indian woman would leave. Always upon leaving, she would make an identical comment in her native tongue.

Mauske memorized the sounds of the comment and then repeated them to a linguist who knew the tribal language. When she heard the translation, Elizabeth Mauske wrote, “[The words] have stayed in my mind as the nicest compliment ever uttered: ‘I shall come again,’ the Indian woman was saying, ‘for I like myself when I’m near you.’”

Published April 11, 2018