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Thus far in our journey into relationships through the (in)courage group “Strong and Graceful Oaks”, we have discussed 1) the power of encouragement, 2) why we need friends, 3) and the importance of getting right with God. Today, let’s take a look at the different kinds of friends we might find in our lives.

Word of encouragement: if you are reading this and you think “I’m lucky to have just one friend,” don’t believe the lies you might be hearing in your head about yourself. Relationships/friendships are a journey and it’s said that you are a rich person indeed if you go through this life with even just one true friend who loves you for who you are.

That being said, we’re going to first discuss different groups of friends then we’ll talk about personality types of friends.

Your friendships can be classified into the following groups:

1. Online Friends: Though you’ve never met them in-real-life, you may have connected with online friends via ministry groups such as this or if you are a blogger, in the blogosphere. Online friends absolutely can develop into Heart Sister relationships. I have dear friends I’ve met online (and now know in-real-life) that are truly my sisters of my heart.

But let me say something that might make some of you throw tomatoes at your screen: if you only have online friends, you are going to find yourself a bit lonely.

Here’s the thing: online friends can’t drive over and pray with you when your life has turned upside down. You can’t meet up with them for a girl’s night now and then. They don’t know your family the way your in-real-life friends do. They can’t deliver a meal to your home when you have surgery. Get my drift?

I’ve seen so many women stay “safe” by only engaging with others online and I have to wonder if it’s fear that has the upper hand. If we are online and interacting with others, we have the privilege of thinking about exactly what we will say in response. Furthermore,we can shut the computer and respond later. It’s possible to keep a bit of a wall up because communication is so much more than just words, isn’t it? Some of the vulnerability of in-real-life friendships is lost in online relationships. I know it’s possible for online friends to develop into true and deep friendships, but there will always be a piece missing.

2. In Real Life Friends: There are the people who are journeying through life with you. You may have children the same age or share the same interests or whatever—you see them on a regular basis. They’re the ones who WILL be able to pray with you in person. They WILL be able to drop-off dinner after your surgery and they’ll be available for a girl’s night now and then.

3. Covenant Friends: Many call this type of relationship “accountability partners” but I have a hard-time with that accountability word. Regardless of semantics, they’re one in the same—covenant friends sharpen one another by encouraging each other to live lives that honor God. Meeting once a week or biweekly, they pray for each other and offer biblically-based advice. They’re close enough to not be scared to tell the other when they’re off-base and need to apologize for something and also help each other take life less seriously.

4. Mentor/Mentee Friends: I think it’s incredibly important to “reach up and reach down” in mentoring one another. We reach up to those who are a little bit before us in this journey of life (i.e. older than we are) and we reach down to those who  are a little bit behind us (i.e. younger than we are). These relationships are in alignment with the Titus 2:4-5: Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives (The Message).

5. Ministry Friends: These are friends you’ve gotten to know well through serving in a ministry together. When I was a M.O.P.S. coordinatore, I witnessed deep friendships develop among the leadership team. Some of my closest heart sisters began as ministry friends! When people are serving together towards a common goal, friendships are one of the greatest gifts He bestows upon us.

And because this post is getting a bit too long, I’m going to cut straight to the next point: our friends have different personality types. Based upon Jesus’ friends, here are the “Super Seven Sisters” you may know:

Peter: This woman is bold and will speak for you when you can’t.

John: Your John friend is very trustworthy and is one of your prayer warriors.

James: She’s courageous, freely offers forgiveness, and doesn’t struggle with jealousy.

Bartholomew: This friend is candid, not honest. Being honest is often only advantageous to the one being honest if it’s not shared with the correct state of heart. When we are candid, we have a heart of concern for our friend and not to just get something off of our chest or insist upon our own way.  We know we will receive a straight, but loving, answer when we seek-out this friend for advice.

Martha:  Here’s the girl you go to for fun. She’s hospitable and wise and will laugh with you when you just really need to forget about your everyday cares and commune with a girlfriend.

Mary: Mary friends are loyal and unwavering. Even if you don’t communicate with them regularly, you know that when push comes to shove, she’s going to be there for you and defend you to the end.

Elizabeth: Your Elizabeth friend possesses the gift of encouragement. She builds you up when you need a pep talk and she will always point you to the truth of God rather than the lies from the enemy.

Relevant scripture reading: 1 Corinthians 12:12-31

What about you? What kind of friend do you think YOU are?