Sisters, I think we’ve struck a nerve here. I’ve been having TONS of conversations with so many of you over on Instagram and Facebook about struggles you’ve had trying to build and maintain healthy friendships in your places as #womeninministry. I’ve heard stories of hurt, rejection, broken friendships… and I hope that you were able to take those questions I gave in our last discussion.
One particular struggle I’ve been hearing is having “trustworthy” friends. So many of us have felt the sting of gossip and hearing something we told a friend “in confidence” make its way back to our ears. So what do we do with that? How can we be free and confident as daughters of the Most High in ministry yet be discerning and cautious with our own hearts?
Let me take an example from our sweet Jesus. He had a BAZILLION followers that wanted to hear Him, wanted to be affiliated with Him, and wanted to tag along to see what they could get out of the relationship. He affirmed them, He served them, He discipled them to a degree with His teaching and presence, but He NEVER confided in them. In fact, He often spoke in rather confusing ways so that they were a bit “put off” by Him. He didn’t put His heart on the line for them.
Next, He had His 12 disciples. He prayed over the selection of these men before He called them to be in His closer circle. (Luke 6:12-16). These were the men who got to hear “the rest of the story” when it came to His teaching. They were the ones He connected with in ministry and life-on-life moments.
Even closer were 3 select men from that group. Peter, James, and John are grouped together several times in the narrative of Jesus’ ministry life. These three had the privilege to see select moments with Him from glory to anguish. Jesus was particularly close to them, and seemed to be even closer to John in some instances. (Mark 9:1-8; John 13:23, 19:27)
I think it’s safe to take this narrative and apply it to our own lives as women who journey through life in ministry. Who are your “followers”; those who look up to you as a mentor, as an example, as someone to “give” them something? These relationships aren’t necessarily to be avoided, only to be given healthy boundaries. These are NOT the people you confide in or depend on to transparently share your heart.
Who are your life-on-life friends? These are the ones who walk alongside of you with a similar vision, intentionally going in the same direction. We might find these people in our small groups or neighborhood circles. Perhaps some of these are close relationships that you are intentionally discipling into relationship with Jesus. They get to see the messy part of your life and love you anyway because they know YOUR intention is for their best!
Who are those in your “inner circle”? We’re going to come back to these people in the next post, but I want you to begin to see the difference between the “follower”, the “life-on-life” friend, and the “inner circle”. As women in ministry, we need to learn the boundaries for each of these areas, as I believe they will be KEY to leading healthy lives as God’s daughters in a world that wants to crush us and discourage us from EVER pursuing friendships. And you know what? I believe that’s one of the BIGGEST tactics of the enemy for women in ministry. He knows that when we are isolated and alone, we FORGET our identity in Christ and begin to focus more on what we FEEL instead of on what is TRUE.
So let’s get some focus points for these next several weeks as we consider these ideas. Here are some questions to work on and walk into until we meet again:
Take 10 minutes and list out names of 3-5 people in your life that you think fit into each of these three categories:
Where do you see some unhealthy boundaries with people in your follower group? What might it look like for you to establish some better boundary lines in those relationships? Remember, these are people that you can encourage and draw closer to Jesus, but NOT people who are going to be permitted to take a lot of your time and energy.
Think about those people in your life-on-life category. Pray over those relationships! Are these relationships in their proper place in your life? Is there someone on that list who needs MORE of your intentional time through discipleship or encouragement? Is there someone who might need to be lovingly set back for a bit?
We are going to dig deeper into that last group of the “inner circle” next time we talk, so hang on to those people for now!
What do you think? Do you have questions or need some clarification on any of these points? I’m learning too! I may not have all the answers, but we can sure dig into Scripture and pray over these ideas together! Shoot me a message on Facebook , Instagram , OR let me know via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’d like to set up a time to talk more deeply.