Intentionality in Friendship

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Have you ever been excited to go to a gathering of friends and spend an entire evening with a house or room full of people, but afterward you left feeling as if something was missing?

There was a time when I went to a get-together, excited to catch up with friends and hear how they were doing. A lot had transpired in my own life over the several weeks since I had last seen most of them, and I was excited to share about it. I spent the evening engaged in conversation, hearing what had been going on in their lives and catching up. After hours of conversation, I left to head home. I felt worn out, disappointed, and drained. For a moment, I couldn’t figure out why . . . and then it hit me: no one had asked me a question. No one had asked how I had been doing or what had happened the past several weeks. No one seemed to express an interest in me further than the general conversation and talking to me about their lives as I listened.

Now, you can immediately say, “Michelle, that is quite a selfish thought!” And it could be, depending on the person’s heart. But the point I am trying to get at is that we want to be known, we want to be invested in, and we want to be cared about. How quick we often are to speak—but yet so slow to listen! What would our friendships and relationships look like if we were more intentional with our time? Asking questions is a key component to this! We see Jesus asking questions of his disciples, his followers, and the Pharisees. But then, he also listens! Oftentimes, I think we don’t want to ask the question because we don’t want to have to stop and listen—at least, I know I’m guilty of that! It takes work to ask questions and then actively and intentionally listen.

How many times do you walk by a friend on Sunday and say, “Hi! How are you?,” with the full expectation that they will say, “Hi, I’m great!,” and move on? Or how often do we answer with, “I’m fine,” or, “I’m good,” because it’s the easy thing to do even though you may be struggling inside and just need to talk with a friend?

How many times have you stood in an awkward conversation thinking, “I wish they would just ask me the same question that I asked them to make this better!”?

How different would any of those situations look if we asked an intentional question or stopped to actively listen?

Older women, how often do you ask a young Mom you know how her week was with her kids? Did she feel drained or refreshed, discouraged or encouraged? And then why she felt that way? Or have you stopped and asked the single girl how her week was, what she is investing her time in, and if she is staying encouraged in where the Lord has her? Or have you asked the newly-married how she is doing with the change and if there is an area in which she needs some encouragement?

Young women, how often do you stop and listen to an older woman’s advice? Do you seek it out? Do you ask and then listen? Do you value it? Or, are we too quick to jump on an internet search and find out for ourselves what we should do?
 

“Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children.”
Titus 2:3-4

 

If you don’t already, it’s time to start thinking about asking questions and what that would look like for you. If you’re not sure or think that you are not good at asking questions or knowing how, you can learn! I have a friend who is excellent at asking meaningful questions. When I asked her how she did it, she told me she taught herself over years. She’d have a list of questions she’d carry with her before going into a group to get her started. You might laugh—she and I both did when she told me! But, it has developed into a gift and a blessing—a gift of being intentional with her conversations to build others up in the Lord.

My prayer is that we would have hearts of humility, hearts that desire to know others on a deeper level and willing to take the time to intentionally invest in them. I’m not talking about asking questions just to find out information but questions that spawn deeper conversations which will ultimately drive both people back to the Lord, his word, and the gospel.

Bible Study Tip

Another question to ask in the “Application” stage is, What action, change, growth, or repentance does this passage prompt? This can be very easy to answer with some passages. But other passages might take a little more effort to think through. Some good reflection questions to ask regarding any passage is, “Do I really believe this? And does my life-pattern and do my thought-patterns prove whether I believe this or not?” Sometimes the first step of action is to pray for God to change our hearts so that we might more firmly believe the truths of His word.

Recommended Books

Links in this section are Amazon Affiliate links to books we find helpful

Growing Together: Taking Mentoring Beyond Small Talk and Prayer Requests
by Melissa B. Kruger

A Helpful Guide to Mentoring Relationships

“Melissa Kruger helps both the mentor and the mentee know where to start, what to cover, and how to make it work so that the mentoring relationship is a source of joy and growth for everyone involved.”
Nancy Guthrie, Bible teacher; author, Even Better than Eden: Nine Ways the Bible’s Story Changes Everything about Your Story

We need one another. Yet we don’t always know how to develop relationships that help us grow in the Christian life. Spiritual mentoring offers a way for younger believers and more mature Christians to grow together through intentional discipleship and accountability. If you’re looking for a place to start, Melissa Kruger presents a guide for discipleship conversations that span a variety of topics for spiritual growth. Each lesson encourages both mentor and mentee to focus on the hope of the gospel as they learn together from the truth of God’s word.

Ann Judson: A Missionary Life for Burma
by Sharon James

Previously published as My Heart in His Hands, this book is fully revised and updated and is the best modern biography of Ann Judson available. If you only read one biography this year, read Ann Judson: a missionary life for Burma. If you re going through trials or suffering you need to read this book and find out that trials are always for a purpose rightly understood they glorify God and build us up in the faith. Sharon James uses the sources carefully to bring Ann (and Adoniram) Judson s piety and hard work for the Lord to our attention, not to venerate them but to challenge us to deeper commitment and service to the Lord.

Recommended Media

Helping people experience the Bible as a unified story that leads to Jesus

BibleProject offers information and videos on the books of the Bible, biblical terms and themes, and more! Check out the video below to get a glimpse of the resources they have to offer. Even kids can learn from and enjoy the videos they produce.

For the Kids

New City Catechism, Question 11:  What does God require in the sixth, seventh, and eighth commandments?

Answer:  Sixth, that we do not hurt or hate our neighbor. Seventh, that we live purely and faithfully. Eighth, that we do not take without permission that which belongs to someone else.

Corlette Sande is the wife of Ken Sande, founder of Peacemaker Ministries and RW360 (see Recommended Media above). Corlette is Ken’s partner in ministry and the creator of the Young Peacemaker curriculum. If you’re like most families, your children may have experienced difficulty getting along at times due to the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. Corlette Sande’s material can be helpful in teaching children how to solve disputes and strive to be peacemakers. She also wrote a very helpful article for The Gospel Coalition, “Help! My Kids Won’t Stop Fighting”.

Question 10:
What does God require in the fourth and fifth commandments?

Answer:
Fourth, that on the Sabbath day we spend time in worship of God. Fifth, that we love and honor our father and our mother.

“Women need women who will share their lives to train them how to apply the Word to all of life—how to love others, care for their families, cultivate community, work productively, and extend compassion according to God’s Word.”

-Susan Hunt

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Ephesians 4:15-16

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