The core of true companionship is acceptance, honesty, and trust.

The need for genuine friendship, especially in ministry, has always been real, but perhaps now more than ever.

Before we dive in:
Here are three heightened realities why meaningful friendships are needed now more than ever:

  • Isolation – It’s easy to be in leadership, surrounded by people, yet still live-in relative isolation. The pressures outside us can cause us to pull back and retreat within.
  • Division – What were once merely differences of opinions have become dividing lines of the soul. In some cases, even friends and family have drawn lines not to be crossed.
  • Competition – What should be Kingdom cooperation can sometimes feel competitive. As fears and insecurities rise, competition increases.

Friendships that reach across the lines help to solve isolation, division, and competition.

The creation narrative in Genesis makes it clear that God designed us for relationships.

We also know that relationships can be broken, and the closer they were, the more painful they can become. Yet, the risk is not only worthwhile; it’s a must.

The best of relationships require intentional investment, generous amounts of grace, and a certain amount of time.

It’s not how many friends you have; it’s the quality and enduring nature that matters.

6 reasons why genuine friendships are crucial to your leadership:

(These six reasons are not only instructive to the importance of true friends in your life but also let you see how to be a great friend to others as well.)

1) Genuine friends give you permission to be yourself.

Very few things will decrease your effectiveness as a leader more than trying to be someone you are not.

Far too many leaders waste time and energy trying to please people, be someone they are not, and live out gifts they don’t have. That prevents them from being the person God made them to be and lessens their ability to connect within genuine friendships.

Genuine friends open the door for you to be you.

All great leadership begins with self-awareness, and self-awareness leads to the ability to grow in your strengths, leading to increased confidence.

When you have personal freedom that is grounded in self-awareness, you become a person others enjoy being around, and you become a better friend to others.

2) Genuine friends call you to higher ground.

This is something I’m so grateful for.

My friends’ challenge, encourage and even inspire me to be the best version of myself. Settling isn’t acceptable. We call each other up to higher ground.

Who wouldn’t want friendships like that, right?! But these friendships are not automatic, they must be cultivated.

Think about it; you can sit with your friends and complain about how things are or challenge each other about how good life could be. The latter makes me a better leader!

My inner circle of friends are higher ground — not dumping ground, kind of people! They make me better! Hopefully, I do the same for them!

A genuine friend encourages and challenges you to live your best thoughts, honor your purest motives, and achieve your most significant dreams.

3) Genuine friends keep you connected in community.

As I mentioned earlier, isolation is a real issue for leaders.

The remedy for isolation isn’t found in the number of genuine friends you have; it’s more about how honest you are with them. Good friends require honesty.

Are you an extrovert or an introvert? That may determine to a degree how many good friends you have, but honesty and transparency are more important than how many.

However…

  • If you are an introvert, don’t allow that to be a reason for a community of friends smaller than your heart desires.
  • If you are an extrovert, don’t allow that to be a reason for shallow friendships and protecting yourself from honest transparency.

Authentic community creates awareness about the people around us, their needs, hurts, passions, and desires. It helps keep us relevant, compassionate, and grounded. That will make you a better leader.

4) Genuine friends give unconditional love and grace.

Unconditional love is still the greatest of gifts and is rare; indeed, you are greatly blessed by such friends.

  • Unconditional love listens, accepts, and remains by your side when others leave.
  • Unconditional love isn’t sloppy, nor does it lower standards, but it offers abundant grace.

And who among us doesn’t need grace?

When I receive grace, not necessarily as a leader, but as a human being, it teaches me how to extend grace, making me a better leader.

In the same way, unconditional love makes us better leaders.

Jesus modeled unconditional love, and it’s intended to be a mark of our leadership.

5) Genuine friends tell you the truth even if it’s difficult.

Along with unconditional love, genuine friends tell you the truth even if it’s painful.

Your real friends will tell you when you have something green in your teeth, right?!

From coaching to correction to confrontation, a friend who will tell you the truth is a gift beyond measure.

I’m doubly blessed because my coaches and mentors have become friends over the years. It’s never fun when they address a shortcoming, blind spot, or an area that I should be further along in, but I’m ever so grateful.

Without that, I could not continue to improve as a leader. How about you?

Who are the wise friends in your life that you have not only given permission to speak the truth but that you are also willing to change accordingly?

Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.

Proverbs 27:6

6) Genuine friends believe in you and want the best for you.

Genuine friends look for the best in you, believe the best about you, and want the best for you.

Who wouldn’t want that kind of encouragement?

And as a leader, you need it.

Discouragement is not uncommon to leaders. Fortunately, it’s not constant, but enough so that friends who speak life, belief, and encouragement into your soul become essential to keep on leading.

As you reflect with gratitude about the friends who believe in you, who would name you as one who believes in them so strongly that their life and leadership have been changed?