I am one to sit quietly so that I can think and reflect. I generally consider what’s going on in my current life; I think about what I am doing in order to get where I want to go. One thing that I have always made my practice is to take account of those who I allow into my inner circle and how to manage those I don’t let in. You see some people think that every person they meet is supposed to be a deep and personal friend when that’s just not the case. It’s just not!
I see friends in certain categories. You may not agree with me, but I will support a couple of my points with scripture for you that think I am being “un-Christian” or “un-friendly.”
The first level of friendship and is the most important to me is the level I refer to as my Inner Circle. It goes without saying that my BFF is in this group. Along with that person, these are friends that I have probably (not in all cases) known for a very long time. Not only have I known them, we have shared values. Those values may be how we look at life in general, how we set goals and pursue them, how we see family and a host of other things. One of the primary reasons they are in my inner circle, however, is because they are TRUSTED. We have gone through victories and disappointments together and I have watched them support me as I have supported them. They will go through the fire for me and I will walk through flames for them. Those in my inner circle are closer than family members. No one could convince me that they would betray me and they know that I would never betray them. My inner circle is small and years have been invested in our relationship. These are my most trusted confidants and the people who get to speak into my life and influence it.
Jesus had an inner circle too. They were His disciples, yes but even within the inner circle of His disciples, there were some who were even closer, or rather, he allowed to see things others did not see. These disciples shared in some of Jesus’ joys and sorrows. Peter, James, and John were the only disciples allowed to accompany Jesus when he raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead (Mark 5:37). These same disciples were the only ones on the mountain when Jesus was transfigured in the presence of Moses and Elijah (Mark 9:2). Jesus even gave nicknames to these three. I didn’t say that they were His favorite, I am just pointing out that not all of His disciples experienced Him the same.
Then there is another group of friends. They are good friends too, but they will not be the people I will call on in a life crisis because I don’t know them like that. They are casual friends. We have a level of trust and we enjoy being around each other, but generally we do so just for fun. There is no deep relationship yet; we have not experienced life together yet. Casual friendships can develop into stronger, deeper ones. We probably share similar personal and professional goals and certainly share similar values. They are people I like and will spend time with, but we do not have anything concrete to build our relationship on yet. I may share some of my life stories with them, but the deep things of my heart will probably not be shared for a very long time.
Associations are another group of friends. You probably have some things in common with them, maybe your work or some social activity, but you may not have similar professional or personal goals; you just don’t know. You probably only know each other on the surface from some activity you’ve been engaged in. You don’t hang out, you just see each other occasionally. Trust isn’t a real issue because the exchange of personal information probably isn’t an issue.
Acquaintances will be the last group I will talk about. You have no real relationship with acquaintances, you just see each other or know of each other in loose terms. You will say hi and bye, exchange pleasantries and if they need help, you will help. Generally, you will not share any personal life stories, even if they decided to share theirs with you. They may trust you because of your wisdom or some kind of expertise they think you possess. You may share limited information with your acquaintances because you have no idea what you can share.
That’s it. I don’t want this all academic, but I did want to lay this out before I say what I really want to say. Watch who you allow into your inner circle. Every person you meet will not be a close personal friend. Watch what you say and who you say it to. Just because a person laughs with you, does not mean that they will cry with you. Just because a person is willing to share their victories with you does not mean that they will share the joy of yours. At times, some people maneuver to try to be “friends” with those they think can open doors for them. Be real, that’s not friendship, it’s called jockeying for one’s own self-interest. If you behave like this, just know that those who you are trying to get close to see it too
My grandfather used to say, “if you want friends, show yourself friendly.” He was quoting Proverbs 18:24. Be a good friend, but also make sure those you allow closest to you are also good friends because they will be the ones who will influence you the most.