Close Friends

MW Editor’s Note. This is an excerpt from the book Mentoring Warriors by David Riffel. Mentoring Warriors is committed to equipping men to mentor and preparing warriors (young men) for life. Healthy relationships are essential in becoming the warrior God wired you to be. Follow this link to get your copy of Mentoring Warriors and support the ministry at the same time!

Unless you are a recluse, you should have some close friends, but not too many.  Just enough to be tight with.  When I say tight, I mean transparent.  You trust them to the point where you let them see you as you are.  A Warrior who wears masks in his relationships will be one of the loneliest fakes around.  He can look like he has his act together, but deep inside, no one knows the real him.  The fear of rejection if people really knew who he is haunts him.  Transparency is earned.  You don’t just throw all your dirty laundry on the table all at once.  There is a process of how relationships work that comes from a teaching series called Biblical Soul Care. 






Every relationship needs to have superficial talk.  That sounds weird to say, but what I mean is something called phatic communication.  Phatic communication is like the tender roots of a plant that intermingle with each other in the rich soil.  As they grow together they build strength for the plant. Regular chatter about life can build such phatic bonds.  Your favorite sports team, the weather, what happened at work today, or what your dad has to say about the new lawn mower he bought.  Phatic chatter helps a relationship such that when deeper issues arise, EMPHATIC communication is healthy and productive, not destructive.

But, if all you ever do is talk phatically with everyone, you will never have close friends.  Learn to break the glass floor.  Go deeper with a few people.  Yes, it’s risky, but with risk comes reward.  


It means you are who you are.  There are no masks with you.  What you see is what you get.  Some people think they are being authentic by keeping their emotional bandwidth narrow.  Never really angry.  Never really sad.  Just always nice.  No one is always nice.  Not even the best Christ-followers I know!  Watch someone get backed into a corner over an issue and you will discover if they are truly an authentic person.  If the mask comes off and there is this burst of anger, you are now seeing the real them.  Become an increasingly authentic, no mask Warrior, and in that, learn to extend grace to others and yourself.  Cut yourself some slack when you mess up.  Deal with the issue but you don’t need to pretend all is ok, because it isn’t.  Close friends won’t abandon you in tough times.


This means you are willing to lay things on the line with someone.  In a mentoring, accountability relationship, you are honest about your life.  Maybe you are struggling with purity.  Your relationship with your mentor has grown enough that you say “I was doing great this week until I took a second look at a really cute girl.  Then everything went south from there.  Last night, I looked at porn again.”  If you have a good mentor, he’s not going to judge you but will extend grace, and together you can work on a plan for change. Transparency covers a lot of areas of your life beyond your level of purity.  It’s about your character and your maturing into manhood.  Having a mentor you feel safe with is vital.  Recently, a young man I mentor confided in me regarding some serious relationship issues with a girl.  Let’s just say that at first, he was quite naïve to her flirtatious moves, but when he clued in, he drew some healthy boundaries. He came to me asking for perspective on how he handled the situation and what he should do next.  The next day, I affirmed him via text, on his choices, and how I saw a new aspect of maturity in him.  His response text read like this, “Thanks that means a lot that you say that.  I am glad I could talk about it with you.  There are not many older people who I feel completely fine and comfortable talking about that…”


Often it comes with a deeper sense of emotions and depth of concern.  “I was dating this girl and things got too hot too quick. We didn’t have sex, but we did sleep in the same bed together, in my dorm room.”    It’s not always about confession.  It’s also about trust in things to come; things you anticipate happening.  “I am concerned for my parents.  Their marriage is rocky right now and it seems that since I’ve left home, it’s gotten worse.  I’m scared.” Recently, I read a short booklet on social anxiety.  Our fear of man is often expressed in unusual or awkward social interactions.  Worrying what people will think of you to the point you refuse to be vulnerable, even with those you are closest to, is a sign you are imbalanced in your social priorities. I need a few close friends who I can be myself with, knowing I am loved and accepted unconditionally.  You need such too.

In the Bible, in 2 Corinthians 7, Paul is writing the Christians who live in Corinth about their relationship with him.  Some of them didn’t like Paul and were closed off to him.  They were very unreceptive.  Others were open to him and expressed repentance over some sins and tensions.  In the end, despite all of their issues that were still unresolved, Paul says something very unique.  “I rejoice because I have complete confidence in you.”  When you have that kind of relationship, where you can be a gut-level vulnerable and know the person will still love and accept you without conditions, then and only then have you entered a level of relationship few in this world experience.

What kind of close friends do you have?

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

Comments are closed.