Growing our Friendships

Almost everyone values having a close friend, but why can they be so difficult to find? Many of our human interactions sometimes actually subvert the very thing we say we want? After reading an email from a listener, Brad and Wayne discuss the process of growing friendships, how we often unwittingly sabotage them and what we can do to value relationships and walk in them with more freedom and joy. Friendship is the building block of true community and learning how to become one of those who actively pursues relationships and helps facilitate relationships for others is a valuable gift among the body of Christ and enriches our own lives as well.

Podcast Links:
Regrets of the Dying by Bonnie Ware
Emergency Help for Kenya,Wayne's recent blog on the need in Kenya


  1. Thanks for this podcast, guys. This is something I’m still working on, and your insights are very helpful.

    I’ve spent a lifetime trying to be what I thought other people wanted. My Dad was a minister and we moved around a lot. So I got to be a pretty good shape-shifter over the years, as I learned to quickly assess what it takes to “fit in”. It did work on some level, but at the deepest level I was lonely, because people were friends with the facade and not me.

    Now I’m learning to live life more as actions from the heart, rather than re-actions to the fear of what other people think. But it’s a challenge to break patterns that are over a half-century old. Oh well, “better late than never”, as the saying goes…

  2. @Ken…can really identify with you. Patterns like this are very difficult to move out of. God seems to know what each of us needs and works with us uniquely to bring us to greater freedom. I’ve noticed that as God wants to build more of a personal reltp with me (without me depending on the outer institutions as a safe substitute for Him) there is a shift happening. I’m slowly able to enjoy more the relationships that He brings and can “exhale” without having to manage all of these relationships trying to get people to do what I want or think they need to. I think the need for approval (hence the “shape shifter” work of trying to please everyone) is something that God has gently been winning me away from.

  3. I really enjoyed the pool analogy, and frankly, I’ve left many floating bodies in the deep end.

    My time with friends has become so dreadful and serious lately that I’m amazed they still call me.

    My friends and I are a few years out of college, and while they’re dreaming the American Dream, I’m dreaming the dream of a man who spent his precious time on earth doing very shallow end of the pool things; like eating lunch with people, talking to women at wells, going off into the woods, and occasionally turning water into wine.

    But when he got into the deep end of the pool, it changed me forever, and the rest of the world too.

    So I’m learning to live, and love people, from the shallow end. Thanks guys!

  4. Hi Ken, I really liked your post. I feel the same – a little bit fake. We moved countries when I was little and then I moved countries again as a young adult and never felt I had a root anywhere. People all around me just seem to be able to do this most normal of things and I always feel like I’m standing on the outside looking in. Shapeshifting – I like that term.

    So if I may ask, in practical terms, what is it that you’re now doing differently? And are you feeling better?


  5. Heike,

    My first step is to recognize when I’m shape-shifting, because the behavior is so automatic. So now I stop and ask: “Why am I doing this?”

    Am I doing good to others because:
    (a) I care about them
    (b) I want to get their acceptance and gain access to their circle of influence
    (c) It’s what’s expected in the social norms of that community?

    When I express an opinion:
    (a) Is it really how I feel about it?
    (b) Am I just saying it to get nods of approval from those around me?
    (c) Is it the majority opinion of the group I’m with?

    If the answer is not (a), then I know I’m acting out of fear and not from my true heart. It feels pretty good whenever I’m able to break that cycle of fear. And it seems that actions I take from the heart are (surprise) more Christlike, and people tend to respond positively because they sense they’re getting the real me.

    Who knew? 🙂

  6. A timely pod cast for me. I have been really struggling with having to be the initiator of friendships. It gets tiresome when so many do not respond to my hospitality and offers of friendship. It seems to be a one way street in some cases so It seems to be a reasonable question to ask, are they really friends? Probably not is what I have concluded. Fair weather friends and convenient friends may be, but do they love me? Not really. So it is tempting to withdraw and let the chips fall where they may with some of them. I think I am going to focus on those that really want to bond and those that don’t but just want the “loves and fishes”, I will be less focused on. I will concentrate on those who are genuine and develop true friendships with them and why not. I only have so much time and only so many resources. Are the others glad when I reach out to them? Of course because it benefits them. So that is my struggle. Not to harden my heart but to be realistic and wise concerning who is genuine and who is in it for themselves.

  7. @John-I appreciated your words also. Part of my transition in learning to let other relationships flow out of my security in Him means that I am also learning to rely on His wisdom when it comes to people who “like the loaves and fishes” but are not there to bond any further. Before growing in relationship with Jesus as my Shepherd (rather than human leaders) I was agressively the “initiator” and sustainer of relationshiips. In this character trait of mine, Father has been winning me out of that by showing me (not to stop caring for people…I do that genuinely) but to trust much more of the “initiating” to Him. In this way although I am sad when it means that some people are not there as much or drop out all together…I slowly am more able to see Him at work in this area of my life. It is encouraging to hear Brad and Wayne “thinking out loud” as they discuss some of these points. I’m very thankful for the love that Father has to work with each of us as individuals where we most need His help.

  8. I so appreciate this podcast and all the comments. My husband and I have been out of the IC for a year and a half while learning to live loved and free. I definitely filled the role of initiator and sustainer of relationships by leading women’s Bible Studies for 10 years. It has been interesting and lonely but freeing to leave that identity behind in the IC. I still find it hard to muster up enough energy to care about initiating new relationships after many years of giving so much to women who are no longer part of my daily life. One way I have coped with this season in my God journey is to see all of those past relationships/groups/churches as a season unto themselves with value for that time.

  9. Another appropriately thought provoking 40 minutes. Three things I think of are that, in U.S. society, a) it is so easy to get disconnected with others via moving to different locations, b) that it is so easy to be disconnected if one’s work is largely by oneself and c) for those of us who are married, it is another hurdle when one or the other appreciates/desires not having people around more than the other.

  10. This podcast really hit me, but perhaps not the way you guys might have intended. I fancied myself one ot the 10%, but rather than rise to the occasion, I held a pity party. Poor me, no one ever invites me. How wrong I was. At the same time, I was writing a piece on something someone gave me. The piece started off as something quite different. The twists and turns during writing this piece (“Carolyn and Nancy Do Church”) resulted in describing the current path of my spiritual journey. As I was about to publish this piece, I realized it was God’s way of helping me hear what you guys said in this podcast. So thank you for initiating my conversation with Father on this!

  11. John Coroy,
    I can totally relate to your getting tired of initiating and reassessing things to see if they really are friends who care. I had to cut back myself and seek God for who He was bonding me together with, for who relaly wanted relationship and proved by their actions that they were true friends. I had to stop kidding myself that people who never initiate contact with me are true frinds, they aren’t. Don’t know if they will miss my initiating or not, guess I’ll find out.

Comments are closed.