Spiritual Friend

"Spiritual friendship is eagerly helping one another know, serve, love, and resemble God in deeper and deeper ways."

—Timothy Keller
Author of The Meaning of Marriage

Definition

The camaraderie and concern shared between spiritual friends focuses on each other’s soul care (spiritual journey). The interaction between spiritual friends is a mutual love and desire to see each other become all that God intends for them to become. The end result of this mutually nurturing relationship is a spiritual transformation that honors God!

Expectations

  • The provision is made for spiritual friendship which promotes a mutual journey throughout life.
  • An environment of trust that encourages a relationship of mutuality.
  • Prayer and dialogue resulting from life’s experiences combined with God’s leadership are integral to this relationship.
  • It is doing life together with another who shares the same desire to see and hear what God is doing.

Outcome

  • A relationship of depth, meaning, and longevity.
  • An intentional follow-up and follow through of the “one another” passages.
  • A security that is characterized by joy, peace and gratitude.

Biblical Example

  • Ruth and Naomi
  • David and Jonathan

Other Examples

Aelred of Rievaulx

In his classical work Spiritual Friendship, Aelred lists four requirements for being a spiritual friend: loyalty, right-intention, discretion and patience. When these qualities are present, spiritual friends can entrust themselves to one another securely.

Martin Luther

“Throughout life a faithful friend is a very great blessing (bonum) and a precious treasure. This is true not only in view of the ordinary dangerous difficulties in which he can offer help and consolation, but also in view of spiritual temptations. For even though your heart is thoroughly confirmed by the Holy Spirit, there is nonetheless a great advantage to having a friend with whom you can talk about religion and from whom you may hear words of comfort.”

John Wesley

“Twin souls – Wesley describes two mature spiritual friends who meet with each other regularly as equals giving to each other support, accountability, discerning insight, concerned counsel, and love as they serve as God’s usher to one another…The mature Christian is always called to serve, serve, and serve some more, but who serves, who ministers to the experienced Christian?...Such faithful believers need a soul friend with whom they can share the spiritual life “without reserve and without disguise”.”

Timothy Kellar

“Spiritual friendship is eagerly helping one another know, serve, love and resemble God in deeper and deeper ways.”

David Benner

“Spiritual friends mature the development of each other’s soul…it is not specialized expertise rather it is the gift of themselves and their companionship on the transformational journey of Christian spirituality...Spiritual friendship and soul friends care for each other as whole people they become spiritual friends when they seek to help each other attend and respond to God.”

Ruth Haley Barton

“The purpose of journeying together is spiritual friendship and spiritual community (whether there are just the two of you or whether you are in a small group) is to listen to one another’s desire for God, to mature that desire in each other and to support one another in seeking a way of life that is consistent with that desire.”

Barry A Woodbridge

Spiritual friends are guardians of each other’s spirits. Out of mutual respect, love and humility, they choose to endure and sustain each other even when their sinful side evidences itself in anger, resentment, pettiness or depression.

 

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