Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Seven Ways to Grow a Friendship


Dear Friends,

This week Kim, Janine and I celebrate 18 years of meeting together as a small group. Way back when, they asked me to mentor them since I had years of parenting and ministry experience behind me and they were young mothers, starting out in ministry. And so it began. But I have certainly gained as much from them as they have gained from me.

Women who say they don’t need to stay connected to other Christian women don’t realize what they’re missing by not taking advantage of Bible studies, small groups, or prayer or mentoring partnerships. Proverbs 27:17 reads: As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Here’s how Kim, Janine and I sharpen one another:

1.      We inspire one another. For instance, Kim set a New Year’s goal to control her thought life, and that inspired me to set a goal to not say anything this year that puts someone else in a bad light. Lofty goals, we know, but at least we’re trying.

2.      We pray for one another. Just today Janine texted me that she’s holding Bill and me in prayer as he goes to see an orthopedic surgeon about knee replacement surgery. We need wisdom, and I value her prayers.

3.      We accomplish more together than we could individually. We each offer strengths and support each other in weaknesses. As Friends of the Heart we have spoken in more than 100 churches. Neither one of us could have enjoyed such a ministry on her own.

4.      We know we’re not alone on the journey. We relate to each other’s challenges and walk each other through tough times holding hands.

5.      We hold each other accountable. At times we set weekly goals and check on each other the following week: Did you make that call? Did you read your Bible today?

6.      We enjoy each other. It’s fun to meet weekly over a cup of tea or coffee, and in between meetings, we keep in touch by phone, e-mail or Facebook. Not a week goes by that we don’t laugh about something—often funny stories about Kim’s classroom antics or a corny joke Janine can hardly share for laughing.

7.      We alert each other to life. I’m way ahead of them journeying down that road, and they watch me relate to adult children and keep in touch with grandchildren. Not that I’m a perfect model; sometimes I serve as a model of what not to do. And I learn about today’s world through their eyes.

Now I realize a small group like ours may not work for everyone. But everyone can plug into some sort of group. I attend a Bible study at my church, and I’ve watched our group knit and share more deeply as the years go by. I also appreciate discussing spiritual direction in Sunday school classes. If there’s no group that appeals to you, start one—a book discussion group, a young moms group, a teen moms group. You might ask someone to partner with you to pray. It’s always a blessing to hear someone else pray for your needs. Or like Kim and Janine, ask an older woman to mentor you; if you’re an older woman, take a young woman under your wing.

So get connected. You’ll be challenged and blessed. Don’t be afraid of deepening relationships within the body of Christ. After all, God made ministry a group project.
  
Have a blessed start to 2016. And p-l-e-a-s-e click on the link below and leave a comment about how you’ve been blessed through a small group.

Shirley

No Upcoming Engagements this month. Time to take a breath and recharge for 2016.