As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. – Proverbs 27:17
So my book, Heart Sisters: Being the Friend You Want to Have, will be released in the fall and I’m pulling this straight from Chapter Three – right here, right now, a sneak peek of what’s to come for those (you!) who read here at the blog.
We talked about why we need girlfriends on Tuesday and today, let’s look at the different kinds of friends we may have.
First off, Jesus understood the importance of living in community and had many different kinds of friends.
His “Inner Heart” friends were Peter, James and John. These were the closest friends He pursued for help, prayer, and love – the people Jesus sought first and foremost. They knew His heart and He trusted them greatly. Typically, we might have between two to three “Inner Heart” friends.
The next heart shows Jesus’ “Middle Heart” friends. These would include Mary Magdalene, Martha, Mary (sister of Martha), their brother, Lazarus, and John the Baptist. These are friends you love as well but just might not be the first two or three people you call upon. However, you are still very vulnerable with your four to six “Middle Heart” friends and you trust and love them greatly.
Next we see “Outer Heart” friends—these are the seven to ten friends you often see socially and consistently spend time with just doing life together. Jesus’ disciples were examples of His “Outer Heart” friends. These are the friends who are often in the same season of life, perhaps raising children within the same age range or experiencing common life circumstances (think military wives or preschool mothers), and those we spend a lot of time with socially. “Outer Heart” friends also reserve a special place in our lives and we love and trust them greatly.
Here’s a visual – straight from Heart Sisters:
Those on the the outside have “Heart Potential” – people you would like to get to know better who could possibly become a close friend.
Heart Sisters are born from any of the three inner hearts. These are the women who “get” you, who know what lies inside your heart and love you anyway, and who walk beside you unconditionally. You can reveal your ugly stuff to them and they don’t judge—in fact, they’re often right there saying “Me, too!” These are the ladies who will speak truth into your life, who will watch your children when you don’t want to take all three of them to your doctor’s appointment, and who will encourage you to be the person God created you to be by not letting you off the hook when you misstep because they’re afraid of hurting your feelings. These are your Heart Sisters and they are essential to our mental, physical, and spiritual growth.
So based upon the friends of Jesus, what kind of friends should we seek? If an iron sharpens iron, then I feel every woman needs to have the “Super Seven” Sisters:
Meet the “Super Seven” personality types of friends:
1) Peter: This woman is bold and will speak for you when you can’t.
2) John: Your John friend is very trustworthy and is one of your prayer warriors.
3 ) James: She’s courageous, freely offers forgiveness, and doesn’t struggle with jealousy.
4) 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.
5) 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.
6) Mary: Mary friends are loyal and unwavering. Even if you don’t communicate with them regularly, you know when push comes to shove, she’s going to be there for you and defend you to the end.
7) 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.
While having a group of “Super Seven Sisters” is a goal we can work towards, it should also be stated there are no hard-fast rules here. Maybe your Martha friend is also your Mary friend. The point is not necessarily the number of friends but rather the quality of the relationships. Like so many other situations, it’s the quality, not the quantity that counts! That being said, it’s also less-than-ideal to have just one girlfriend because that one girlfriend cannot be your everything. Oftentimes, she begins to have too much pressure placed on her shoulders and the relationship begins to suffer.
God intends for our lives to be enhanced by our relationships with others – He wants our iron to sharpen another iron. This can’t be done if we are all the same, right?
Which kind of friend do you think YOU are? Are you a Peter? An Elizabeth? A hybrid?