Five great questions of life: Life * Love * Learning * Labor * Leadership
Five Levels of Friendship
By Evan Nehring
Before we can talk about what to look for in a friend, we need to chat about what kind of friend we’re looking at. Each of these levels of friendship could have several layers, but this simple outline is helpful.
CompanionsThese are kindred spirits, fellow travelers who live deeply and talk about important things. You spend time together and you’ve been through a few things. In all the world, very few have so much in common, even if it’s merely choosing each other. They get you.
What should you look for in a companion? This is about quality, not quantity. The more of your heart you unveil to your friend, the more care you need to take that they share your core values and honor who you are. Companions should help you soar.
BuddiesSomething brings you together with these folks. It could be social or work, a team or a club, but you enjoy being together. Looking for a night out? Call your buddies. Tackling a project at the office? That’s more fun with buddies. Hitting the beach or the ski hill, road tripping, or working together for a good cause: all go better with buddies.
If companions need to share your core values, buddies need to respect your core values. If you have to hide who you are or change who you are, you’re running with turkeys. They’ll drag you down. Fun is more fun when you can be you.
AcquaintancesThese are people you bump into and often know their names and a few interesting details about them. They could be friendly. They could be abrasive. These are teammates, classmates, coworkers and others who are close by, but not close.
In one sense, the number of acquaintances in your life determines whether you’re and introvert or an extrovert. If you talk to the same three people at work every day, you probably don’t need as many acquaintances. If you’ve got a thousand friends on Facebook, you’re outgoing.
OpponentsThis person is working against you in some significant area. If a buddy is on your team, your opponent is on the other side of the net. You work for one election campaign, they work for the other. They disagree with your spirituality. It’s not hate, but it’s work.
EnemiesThe Bible doesn’t say that Jesus-followers won’t have enemies, just that we have to love them. As good as you feel about your companions, you feel that bad about your enemies. There’s anger and hard feelings. There’s irritation and disagreement. There could be mocking and personal violation.
Companions, buddies, acquaintances, opponents, enemies. How are your friendship levels doing?
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