When Bill and I retreat, one of the things we almost always look at is our friendships, evaluating who we need to keep close, who we need to spend less time with, & who we need to make a higher priority. This is especially important since our seasons of life are frequently changing. We can’t possibly remain close to every single person we have ever loved. There are many ways you can evaluate friendships. I’m going to share how we go about this process in two posts–deciding who gets top priority and deciding where change needs to take place. This post only refers to believers, BTW. I’ll get to our unbelieving friends in a later post.
We begin by evaluating our personal walk with God, our family, & our church. We then move on to friends since our friendships come after these things & since evaluating those things helps us understand more clearly how much time we have & the responsibilities God has called us to. Afterward we make a list of all the people we can think of who are currently in our lives & evaluate each one.
We begin with the roles God has called us to through our church. Bill is a pastor of worship, so his current top priorities are the other pastors at Oak Park, musicians, and interns. Since we are just now settling in with this church & see my primary ministry to the church as ministering to my husband, I am currently focusing on spouses of some of those men and female musicians. Their phone calls and emails will be answered first and their meetings will be scheduled first. Bill and I also make it a priority to pray for them together.
Next, we look for those friends who are most important in sharpening us. “Perfume & incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel.” (Prov. 27:9) For us, this means our accountability groups and small group (we’re still settling into this at Oak Park) take a front seat. This is where we share our hearts, receive encouragement or rebuke, and return the favor all for the sake of godliness.
After that we look to see if there are other responsibilities or giftings God has given us. For example, Paul in a sense teaches Timothy that everyone is called to be mentored & to be a mentor. So Bill & I are giving priority to finding new mentors and giving priority to a man and young woman we both mentor separately. Again, a post on mentoring is in the future.
Though I am going to address in the next post the danger of keeping too many friends who don’t fit well in your current season of life, there is something to keeping a few close friends for the long haul. These are the people who are particularly gifted at sharpening you, the ones who energize you for the Lord each time you are in their presence. They know you almost as well as your family does, and you feel as connected to them as Jonathan and David did to each other. One of those friends for me is Carrie (post about her later). Granted I’m cheating a bit since I’ve been in community with Carrie in some form for almost four years, but even if that role disappeared, I would imagine she would still get top priority in my life. Two other friends who fit that role are Lindsey and Kacie. Though I can’t give as much attention to either of these friends as I could in a different season of life, these friends are particularly special to me. Lindsey and I still get together sporadically in less busy seasons, and our family visits Kacie’s family each year. I leave these times of fellowship feeling like I got a glimpse of Christ.
Once we have decided who God has given us to be a high priority, we move on to see with whom we need to make changes. That post is next.