There is a radio station I listen to in the mornings. The DJ's make a show once a year about how they go through their list of friends and "weed".  They actually sit back and decide what is healthy for them and what is no longer healthy as far as friends go.  I used to think it was callous and rude, but after living the life like we all do I have come to believe that we need to take our friendships and relationships more seriously.  Girls, do we spend more time and care thinking about what we may "weed" from our closets than what kind of friendships we have?  (sorry guys, I just HAD to make that comparison!)  We need to ask ourselves questions about people in our lives.  Things like, "Does this person help me in my Christian walk?", "Am I good for this person?", "Is this relationship beneficial to each of us?.  Think of questions you might ask yourself to take stock of the friendships you hold in your lives right now...WHAT kind of friendships are they? What is happening within the relationship?

Before we can think about anything else it might be beneficial to take a practical look at the types of "friendships" that exist. I put quotes around this word "friendships" because we all know that a "good" and healthy friendship is based upon mutual interests, but there are two other types that aren't quite the same.  The first type of friendship is a mutual friendship. If we have things in common with a person we are naturally drawn to that person, and visa versa. That is a BEGINNING.  Similarities in other things play into this as well. It is helpful and beneficial  and important if two people are of like mind and are of similar maturity levels. These factors are important to keep a mutual friendship healthy and happy!  These types of friendships take time to develop; they aren't made complete over night. Once similar interests are discovered it is very important to develop the relationship slowly as the two people learn more of each other and "work" together within the framework of the new friendship.  This is a joyful experience, and folks, rather rare. So take your time with a new friend and allow it to grow naturally.  I see the framework of a healthy mutual friendship in Amos 3:3 "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?"

Other types of "friendships" have different characteristics. There is a mentoring friendship. This is where one friend has a bit more maturity and is helping another in times of need with wisdom and knowledge that may be of help to a less experienced, less knowledgeable person. These types of friendships are important for people at different stages in their lives, for BOTH parties. It gives the one being mentored a chance to benefit from the knowledge and experience of the more "mature" person, and it helps the mentor in the relationship to use what they have learned to help another person. Philippians 2:4 " do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others." So we learn that it is important to help.  It is also important to note that a mentoring friendship is not the same as a mutual friendship. We must take care within this relationship to understand that the mentor will need to take care of themselves and make sure their balance of life is kept in tact. We all need a rest now and then! Clear boundaries are important within this relationship so the benefits can continue for both parties. It is also important to note that as a mentor IF you have given a mentee everything you have be HONEST with the mentee. If the need is still there and you have nothing else to give you may need to suggest they should seek help from another mentor or seek professional counseling.  This is a loving action.

The third type of friendship is the mentee. This is the person seeking counsel or help from the mentor.  This relationship is important so that a less knowledgeable or person needing help can learn from the one who is a little further down the road in experience, wisdom, or knowledge. It can be a very rewarding experience. We have all most likely been in a situation at a job for example where one who has been there longer can help us learn from their experiences and knowledge. It is important that the mentee realizes that their needs may be overwhelming at times and to understand that the mentor has a life beyond the needs he or she may be experiencing. It is hard to be in a situation where you are needing help. Practical or personal issues can be difficult to wade through at times. The mentee needs to take time to put into action the suggestions of the mentor.  The mentee/mentor relationship can quickly become out of balance if there are only entreaties of need without any effort on the part of the mentee to take advantage of the knowledge and wisdom of the mentor. Everyone has needs and times of being "needy" in life, but we must recognize that this relationship is not a mutual friendship born from mutual interests and similar maturities...this relationship CAN grow to a mutual friendship, but that can not happen until the mentee has learned and grown to a similar place.  It might not ever get there, but the relationship can be a good one if healthy boundaries are kept within the mentor/mentee relationship, or the two individuals find themselves in similar places at some point.  Again, this is not a process that happens over night.

Also important to note for a mentee that if your needs happen to be very encompassing at the moment you may want to find a few mentors of like mind so as not to find yourself in a situation of need and your mentor not available.  It is also a biblical wisdom as found in Proverbs 15:22 "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed." Be sure in this situation to be taking advantage of the knowledge and wisdom you have been given and not just moving from house to house with your need. 

 Now, within these frameworks what does God expect of us in our relationships or friendships? There are many scriptures regarding our relationships with each other, so let's just look at a few that might help wade through our responsibilities to each other and ourselves as God would have it.

A great place to start is found in John 15:13 "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." This would indicate a sacrificial type of love for each other.  I can see this in each of the relationships above.  Within this sacrificial type of love we need to employ love of each other and not take advantage of each other on either side of the coin.  Mutual respect can and should exist within the framework of each of these relationships for them to continue in a healthy way!

Jesus tells us the framework that makes us His friends...what can we learn and apply to each us in the above relationships? John 15:14 "You are my friends if you do what I command." and NO, we don't get to boss each other around...think hard about this one!!

Look at the wisdoms within Proverbs...

Proverbs 17:17 "A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need." our job is not to take advantage of a loyal friend, but to accept help, when needed, with grace and gratitude.  On any given day we can be on either side of this line!

Proverbs 27:6 "Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses." If you are lucky enough to have a trusted friend or mentor, understand that some things said may not be easy to hear. II Timothy 3:16 is a good measure to remember when we are searching for Godly wisdom "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,"

Proverbs 27:17 "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." If we have the right attitude within any of the types of friendships discussed above, this is a blessing! IF we take "sharpening" with the right attitude this means we have the choice to grow!

Proverbs 18:24 "A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother."

I encourage you to take some time to evaluate your relationships in life...if you have a mutual friend, REJOICE, if not, let time wisdom guide you in that direction.  If you are a mentor or a mentee, take not take advantage of the other.  If your lines are fuzzy and you don't know what kind of relationship you are in, read through this again (I didn't make it up, I studied the topic) and see if you can clarify your lines and set boundaries so the relationships can be healthy and Godly!