There may be nothing more “therapeutically beneficial” than a good friend. Studies show that the largest factor in determining the effectiveness of counseling is the quality of resources – like good friends – someone has outside of counseling. The challenge is that this “most helpful resource” has the “least formal training” and often feels overwhelmed by their role. But it is actually this lack of formality that contributes to the helpfulness of a friend.
This site can maximize the advantages of being a good friend and help you understand how to fulfill this role with excellence, but without contributing to the anxiety you probably already feel if your friend is in a difficult situation.
1. Personal Growth or Particular Insight
An immense benefit of being a good friend is your example of engaging your own weaknesses or short-comings in a humble, non-self-deprecating way. Allow the topical section of this site (bottom of the homepage) to help you find materials that speak to areas you want to grow in, and mention how God is using them in your life. Too often we avoid acknowledging our weaknesses because we’ve seldom heard others do it in a way that is attractive and life-giving.
2. Mentoring Guides
The audio/video teaching content on this site is intentionally designed to facilitate mentor-based discipleship relationships. These materials begin with an assessment focus (understanding the problem), provide tools to evaluate the severity of a struggle, and account for contributing factors before providing Scripture-based practical helps. Simply put: the content draws a map, and as a friend, you provide support on the journey. Each seminar also has a study guide you and your friend can work through together. On this metaphor of a map, I am grateful for the words of David Powlison:
“A map and compass don’t get you from here to there. They orient you. The squiggly red line on a map look nothing like the actual road you must drive… A map can’t tell how long it will take you to get from here to there. Conditions vary.”
You can serve the role of a friend without bearing the weight of being the “lead teacher or counselor.” Chances are this may still feel a little intimidating, so look at #3…
3. Respect for Your Limits
Your role is to be a friend. That is an immensely valuable role an “expert” can never play. Even if counseling is needed, don’t feel like your role is less valuable. Here is an article that helps you identify how “one another care” (the biblical term for friendship-level care) fits with more formal types of care. If you are concerned that your care is bridging into enabling, here is a resource that can help you make that assessment.
4. Raising Social Awareness
There is another thing our friends do for us that may not be immediately obvious: they help us know what is “okay to talk about.” Often we fear that our friends don’t want to talk about “those kinds of things.” There are dozens of ways we either open up or shut down certain topics in our social spheres. One way to open up more conversations in your social circles is to share quality content from a Christian perspective in your social media channels. This says “it’s okay to talk about these things with me” to your friends. It allows them take the initial step of exploring a topic and think about talking about it, before having a direct conversation. I hope this site provides many “flags of peace” you can raise on Twitter and Facebook to help remove the stigma from counseling-related topics.