Much has been said about the importance of strategic friendships among men and women in the work of the Kingdom of God, to which I would whole heartedly agree. But what about strategic friendships for our children? How should this look? How should this play out?
In this article, I would like to take a different approach and look at the value of strategic friendships in our children’s lives, in a Biblically ordered church setting where peer culture and age segregation are not the norm.
The subject has been on my heart, so last week I sat down with my two oldest daughters, Naomi (17), and Anna (15), on separate occasions for a daddy daughter talk on the subject of friendship. I simply asked… who are your best friends? The answers they gave were both without hesitation, that their mother and one another were their best friends. This was a fact I already knew because it is both verbalized on a regular basis and demonstrated in practice daily.
My desire; however, was to get outside the walls of our home, to the other people that they considered close friends.
What happened next was a deep encouragement to my soul as a father. Both of my daughters lists of closest friends included 5 ladies ranging from as young as age 13 to two women over 50 and a few in between. I thought to myself, how wonderful that they both had godly young women whom they could treat as sisters and older women whom they could treat as mothers (1 Timothy 5:2) and receive the kind of influence that Titus 2 models for us.
I know that to some, what I have just said is weird and they may immediately think that surely my children need more friends their own age. On the contrary, I want to say how marvelous it is to be a part of a church family that allows for both young and old to grow in Christ and community together. A church where it is not abnormal to see a 17 year old praying with or visiting with a 13 year old or a fifty year old. Nor is it freakish to hear a 15 year old list off a woman who has three adult children as one of her dearest friends.
I believe that is the way God intended friendships to be. Older friends that can invest wisdom of years into the life of the younger, who in turn, are often encouraged and invigorated in their own lives because of the friendships that flourish with these younger ladies.
The reality of these kind of strategic friendships is that they are wonderful for both men and women, young and old. These friendships that flourish have also been a blessing to me as a pastor. It has been one of the greatest joys of my life to have other men of God, who are old enough to be my father, befriend me, challenge me, pray for me, and rebuke me on occasion. I also have friends that are young men, new husbands, and new fathers that desire to grow into men of God who lead well.
May God help strategic friendships to flourish in our Biblically ordered homes and churches.
Iron sharpeneth iron; So a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.