My Roles: Friend.
Since moving to Malawi the Lord has been convicting me about how little work I put into friendships. So often I get wrapped up in my own world that I fail to think about the worlds of those God has placed in my life. I expect other people to do the work of relationships and come to me. I’m saddened when I think about the intimacy of friendships I’ve missed because I’ve been too wrapped up in myself to reach out. God is using this international move to teach me the importance of intentionally serving others and building friendships with people in Malawi and Memphis. I’m praying God makes me into a friend who prioritizes, prays and counsels.
A Friend Who Prioritizes
A friend who prioritizes people is someone who looks past the busy routine of their own life in order to see and meet the needs of those around them. They text you just because they miss you. They are the kinds of friends who text you when they notice you weren’t at church just to check in. They bring you meals when you are physically recovering. They take time off work to spend with you when you are struggling with postpartum depression. I’ve been blessed with precious friends who have done each of these things and more for me. These are servant friends who truly live out Philippians 2:3. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,”
God has blessed me with people all over the world to prioritize. One of my goals is to reach out to two stateside friends a week. I want these people who have supported our journey every step of the way to know how valued they are by us. I want to be an encourager to them, even though I’m not there in person. The simple act of sending a text message lets the person across the world know I care. What a shame if I miss out on blessing someone because I didn’t want to take a few minutes to send a text. As far as Malawi friends are concerned, I’ve previously mentioned that we are using our home as our base of ministry. We have been intentional with inviting at least one couple or family over for a meal each week as well as a mom and kids for morning play dates. These times of connection end up being the highlights of our week as we get to build relationships, be mutually encouraged, and promote the gospel of Jesus Christ. Keeping our door open and intentionally inviting people is one way I plan to be a friend who prioritizes.
A Friend Who Prays
A friend who prays is one of God’s greatest blessings. Josh and I are continuously overwhelmed by the multitude of people praying for us. Please don’t stop! We know that God is working as a result of your prayers. I can think of several sweet friends off the top of my head who deliberately text me to let me know they are praying and ask for specific requests. Words cannot express how much these friends mean to me, because I know that what they are doing for me has eternal ramifications. As James 5:16 reminds us, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”
I want to be the friend who “accomplishes much” for my friends, knowing that God can and will do mighty things. Knowing that others are praying for me has encouraged me to do the same for them. I’m working at asking friends for specific prayer requests then writing them down in my prayer journal so that they are not easily forgotten. This is my practical way to practice becoming a friend who prays.
A Friend Who Counsels
Counseling is a formal term typically thought to be the job of a pastor or psychologist. However, scripture calls us to counsel our friends. Proverbs 27:9 is a precious reminder of what Christ-honoring friendship should be. “Oil and perfume make the heart glad, so a man’s counsel is sweet to his friend.” Sweet. Do my words leave a sweet taste or a bitter sting? Do I point my friends to the truth of God’s word in grace and love, or do I silently judge their decisions? The choice is mine to make. I can let the Holy Spirit shape me into the friend who people want to open up to as I prioritize and pray for them, or I can be the friend who never invites people to venture more than surface level. I’m praying for the wisdom and conviction of the Holy Spirit to see what my words, attitudes and actions communicate.
As I ask the Lord to mature me into a friend who counsels with the wisdom and grace of God’s infallible Word, I pray He gives me wisdom to see the deeper needs of my friends. I want to ask questions that lovingly get to the heart, so that I can pray confidently and counsel with sweet words of wisdom. I’m praying God opens many doors this year for me to sit down with a friend (or video chat), ask for the Spirit’s guidance, and open our Bible’s to see what God says. These kind of encounters are where God forges lifelong friendships as I prioritize, pray and counsel my friends.