Most Christians would say that each of us should be a part of a healthy community lifestyle. That’s not wrong, but it seems the importance of that statement goes much deeper than how most people think about it.
Here’s how Jennie Allen put it in her book Find Your People…
Our longing for healthy, mutually submissive, supportive, interdependent relationships isn’t simply us craving something good for us, like vegetables or vitamins; we are craving the fundamental reason we were created. We weren’t just built for community; we were built because of it.
It’s the community of God that is the ultimate source of life on earth. It’s not just something you get to be a part of. Being in healthy Christ-centered community is the reason you exist.
The inner-most circle
A major component of healthy community in a person’s life is their inner-most circle of friends. Each of us only have limited time and space in our lives for people we’re going to be the closest to. We want to make sure that time and space is filled by those who are willing, able and deserving of being in it.
Because of the blueprints of isolation that’s been built into our culture and lifestyles, we live in a time and place where finding and keeping close friendships is harder than it should be. It’s one of those things where you can’t be too picky, but you have to be careful and discerning as well.
There’s no perfect people out there, but we also don’t want to get caught up working toward something that will do us more harm than good.
In light of that, I’d like to present to you 6 qualities to look for in people that you’re considering being close friends with. Of course, you should also use them to look in the mirror to examine if you’re worthy of being a close friend to someone else as well.
You can think someone is one of the greatest people to ever walk the planet. But if they’re not highly available, it doesn’t matter much for your ability to have a close friendship. And if they don’t live nearby, you won’t be available to each other.
While technology makes it possible and easier to keep in touch with those you don’t live near to, it will never replace the need to be physically together with people. Those who will be your closest friends must live close enough that they are available to you without much exception.
If basically every encounter has to be planned because of the distance between you, the best you’ll be able to do is maintain a good friendship.
You can share all the same interests, personality, sense of humor and more. But if a friendship is not grounded in humility, it won’t go the distance.
Sticking together through all life will throw at you is hard enough. We must have people in our lives that don’t have an elitist attitude and are willing to receive feedback with an open mind and heart.
Another important part of being humble is always assuming the best of others. This shows that you aren’t quick to think you have every person and situation figured out. People that do this are quick to judge the motives of others’ hearts.
When humility is a core value in a relationship, you’ll be much more likely to be able to stick together with this person through thick and thin.
Not much kills a relationship more than a lack of communication about what we think and feel. When people don’t communicate well, they fail to learn how they can best love each other.
Without unlocking that knowledge, we likely won’t do it very well. People that are open and honest with you are people who can become and stay close to you for the long haul.
One of the biggest frustrations you can experience in any relationship is an imbalance of commitment between people. While you may want to be best friends with someone, you can’t force that to happen.
Attempting to cultivate a relationship where the other person isn’t as into it as you are most of the time leads to disappointment and frustration. You’ll feel like the relationship is one-sided, because it will be.
You want to notice when people are willing to go all in with you and invest there. If someone isn’t as committed as you, it doesn’t mean they can’t be A relationship in your life. But, they shouldn’t qualify as someone you attempt to invest in as a close friend.
There’s an unhealthy needy and a healthy needy. The unhealthy needy is one-way. It’s not balanced out by providing for your needs as well. The healthy needy is more of a recognition that they can’t do life by themselves and they need what you have to offer to build them up.
Allen goes on to talk about how she asked one of the authors of the popular book Boundaries (Dr. John Townsend) about boundary setting and relationships. He said…
Any relationship that drains you faster than it pours into you isn’t a friendship; it’s a ministry opportunity.
A close friendship involves people who can both pour into each other on a regular basis because they know they need each other.
In order to grow in life, we have to have people around us that can be helpful in that pursuit. It just won’t happen all that much without them. A close friend should be someone that can provide wisdom to you when and how you need it.
These 6 qualities certainly aren’t everything you look for in a close friend, and the person doesn’t necessarily have to be a rock star with all of them. There’s room for some grace. But these will give you a good baseline for discerning who should claim those all-important spaces in your life.