When I was a younger girl, one of my favorite girl groups was TLC. TLC was compromised of two singers with the stage names, Chilli and T-Boz, and a female rapper with the stage name, Left Eye. These ladies were talented individuals, but they made great music together. Their fans watched as one of the young ladies took a downward spiral as the other two continued to stand by her side. One of their greatest hits is titled, “What about your friends?”
What about your friends?
Will they stand their ground? Will they let you down? Hey, hey.
What about your friends?
Are they gonna be lowdown? Will they ever be around?
Or will they turn their backs on you?
I used to love this song. In addition to having a hot beat and a creative and colorful music video, it speaks to a basic principle that we were created for community and we all need each other. When our community is not right, we know it and often suffer as a result.
Jesus modeled for us the type of friends that we need in our lives and the type of friends we need to be to others when he said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command (John 15:13-14 NIV).” In these two short verses, Jesus reveals to us that true friends express God’s love by:
1. Giving themselves sacrificially to others
2. Sharing their lives intimately with others
3. Encouraging each other to obey what Jesus commands
I was recently reminded of these wonderful truths while reading Robert J. Wicks book entitled, Touching the Holy. In his book, Wicks documents the types of friends that leaders and all Christians need in their lives to ensure a healthy and challenging community. The four types of friends or voices needed in our lives are as follows:
Prophet – is the strong voice of a person who is “living an honest and courageous life guided by truth and compassion (pg 117-118).” The prophet speaks truth, God’s truth into our lives by challenging us to comfort and deal with issues in a manner pleasing to the Lord.
Cheerleader – is needed to “balance the prophetic voices (pg 124).” The cheerleader helps us see ourselves through the eyes of our loving Abba, Father God. The cheerleader reminds us that we are sons and daughters of the King who loves us and has a good plan and purpose for your lives. It is important to note that a cheerleader is not an enabler, someone to abuse, or simply help us feel better about ourselves, rather a cheerleader supports us on our journey.
Harasser – “can help us face a danger that everyone trying to be committed to God risks: on the way to taking God seriously, we may end up taking ourselves too seriously instead (pg 129-130).” The harasser helps us maintain prospective and encourages you on our journey.
Spiritual Guide – is an interesting, yet important group of voices which includes:
- Spiritual Companions or “people who call us to be all that we can be without embarrassing us because we are presently where we are (pg 144),
- Spiritual Mothers and Fathers or wise people we seek out for help at critical moments in our lives, and
- Books and Places that help us see God clearly and meet with him without distractions. Of course, the Bible should be our primary book of reference. Other classical Christian and historical books can also help us see how God has worked over time and goes a long way to help us overcome negative thought patterns.
I know that in today’s culture, it can be difficult to develop these deep relationships. Less people are living in close proximity to biological family members and childhood friends. In the past 11 years, I have moved between five states. That may be a little extreme for some, but I know that people can remain in one environment for years before cultivating rich relationships, that’s why I believe the culture of our local churches are so important.
For us to be the spiritually and emotional healthy leaders that God desires us to be, we must intentionally seek out friendships that help us grow in the areas identified above.
How is your friend circle? Would you add anything to Wick’s list?
© Natasha S. Robinson 2011