rebelling against low expectations

7 Tips For Godly Teen Friendships


Intimacy. Love. Covenant.

All words that can be used to describe…romance? Well, yes, but that’s not what I’m going to talk about here.

I’m going to talk about a relationship that gets painfully neglected in Western churches but which may be the one most important relationship in our entire lives: friendship.

Why is friendship so important?

Well, for one thing, it’s important because it plays a part in all our other relationships.

God must become more than a concept. He must become a friend. Our brothers, sisters, mothers, and fathers must be our friends in order for there to be any fruit and peace in the home. And any romance can only blossom out of friendship.

Secondly, it’s important because as the Proverbs say, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Proverbs 13:20).

Our friendships don’t only give us fulfillment, love, and care—they also shape us into the people we’ll become.

So we have to choose our friends wisely. But it doesn’t stop there. We also have to develop our friendships wisely. It’s not just about who…but how.

Intimacy. Love. Covenant. Those awkward words that must be a part of every relationship, whether romantic, familial, or friendal(?). Those are the hows of friendship.

Don’t we all crave real, raw friendships where we can know and be known? In other words, don’t we crave intimacy?

I know I do, and I believe any friendship that isn’t built on that sort of intimacy is no friendship at all.

That’s why I call intimacy a how (a building block) of friendship. But how do you how?

How can you reach intimacy? How do you develop friendship? Where do you start?

It can feel like a constant balancing act, as you navigate the tension between sharing your life and avoiding gossip. Being intimate and not exposing yourself. Being close enough to feel like someone knows you, without being close enough to get hurt (or not).

Here are seven lessons I’ve learned about developing godly friendships.

1. Your openness sets a precedent for the friendship. So be open.

In an interview on writing, Donald Miller says this:

“When we’re vulnerable, we’re giving the reader something they could use against us. And, they could make fun of us. They could think less of us. They could judge us. And for whatever reason, when you give somebody something they could use against you, it creates a bond. It creates trust, because it’s like handing you a gun. And now you feel safe because you’re the one with the gun.”

It’s the same with friendship. It feels unsafe to hand someone a gun. It feels unsafe to be vulnerable. But if we want others to be vulnerable with us, we have to set a precedent. We have to let things be awkward and initiate the awkwardness. We might get hurt. We might get betrayed.

But think about this.

If someone opened up to you, what would you do? Would you tell the world all their secrets, or would you see this as an invitation for a more fruitful, deeper relationship?

If you want real friendship, you have to be willing to risk pain.

2. Be quiet.

We have to be open if we want others to be open with us. It’s as simple as the golden rule: “[A]s you wish that others would do to you, do so to them” (Luke 6:31).

But you have to take this principle all the way.

Of course, you hate awkwardness. Or at least, you think you do. But you and I both have things we wish wouldn’t be awkward to talk about. Things we wish we could share with at least someone without being judged. We want to be understood.

And so do our friends.

So as much as we want to be open and initiate, we have to leave room for others to talk. The other person wants to share stuff too. We have to know when to talk and when to be quiet.

We have to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Sometimes, that means shutting our mouth. And sometimes that means we need to…

3. Ask hard, awkward questions.

No one likes initiating awkwardness. No one likes talking about their secrets. They want to be asked. They want someone to find them.

So, unfortunately, the awkwardness is on us…again.

Ask the hard question. If you sense something going on with your friend, don’t be afraid to ask about it, even though it can be really, really awkward and scary. But that’s when the Holy Spirit meets us.

4. Don’t ask too many questions.

You want your friend to bring things up. If you ask something and they don’t want to answer, don’t push. You can’t force them to be open. The friendship has to be just as much theirs as yours. And, as I’ll expound on in my next point, friendships take time. So wait until the other person wants to open up to you.

As my dad told me once, “Don’t pull out the carrot to see whether it’s growing. Leave it, and let it grow.”

5. Patience is key.

No matter where you start a friendship, there is always room for growth. You might be soul mates from the get-go (1 Samuel 18:1), but your friendship still has maturing to do. No friendship is going to be deep and real at the beginning. No two friends are going to be completely open with each other from the start, and you can’t expect them to.

It’s a process. You grow. They grow. You grow as friends.

6. Be careful about how you share your struggles.

Don’t gossip. Don’t lick wounds. Think about how it’ll affect the other person, and don’t complain!

7. This friendship is about God, not you.

Throughout the Bible, the best friendships are the ones that are built on God. And I know from experience, praying with friends is one of the most fulfilling things you could do.

But I also know that even when I’m surrounded with Christian friends who love to talk about God, my study of God and His Word can be fueled by wanting to show off to my friends rather than my friendships being fueled by my love for God.

But our friendships are supposed to be about God. He should be the center.

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” – Matthew 18:20

Oh, and would you look at that: two or three. Well, that’s a topic for another time, but friendships as groups and as families can be great for everyone involved.

May God bless you as you search for intimacy in Him!

What advice do you have for cultivating godly friendships? Commennt below, and let me know what you’ve learned about making friends through this crazy process of life!

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About the author

Jason Zimmerman

is a 16-year-old passionate about serving God through writing and drama and loves embarking in strong God-honoring relationships with other believers. He is currently working on a full-length middle-grade novel, The Cruel Cat and The Hero’s Tail. He is also part of a Christian dance studio and has been taking piano lessons for ten years.


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  • This is really helpful! I’ve been dealing with a lot of drama with my girl friends lately, and this article is awesome. Keep up the good work! 🙂

    • Thanks Melissa! I’m glad I could be of help. Just keep loving and seeking after God! After all, that’s what really matters! 🙂


  • Awesome article, Jason! My favorite point (or should I say least favorite? 😉 ) is the first one… being willing to be open and share honestly. It’s something I tend to struggle with. But, that being said, I’m great at the second point! 😉 This article reminded me of all the fabulous friendships found in Scripture. Those between David and Jonathan. Ruth and Naomi. Jesus and His disciples…

    Thanks for sharing with us! 🙂

  • Incredible article, Jason! God bless you for writing this article. I like the point of where you don’t ask too many questions. I’ve been doing that as my first mistake of trying to be a friend and know I feel upset with myself about not being the open friend my friends wanted.

    Thank you for writing this article,

  • I was just asking myself if I knew what it meant to be a good friend, then I see this – that’s God voice to me. Great article!

  • Great article! It’s such a good point that a lot of times, the awkwardness falls on us. We have to be unafraid of the awkwardness in order for the friendship to move forward. Thanks for sharing!

  • Great job man! These were some really cool points! I love when you said that our relationships are about God, not us. The only thing that I would add is, your friendships shouldn’t revolve around a singular one. The last scripture was a good illustrator of this. Thanks for writing, I really enjoy all of it.

  • Wonderful article Jason, it’s not often we think of those words connected to friendship, but it’s so very true! And your right, love involves hard work, especially in friendships. Thank you for this reminder!

  • Fabulous job, Jason. This article is well written and very helpful. I like how you made a point that we have to be transparent and risk pain, but also think about the other person and not complain. Both are important concepts 🙂 Thanks for writing!

  • Wonderful Article Jason. Unfortunately most of my best friends are on different continents, but God has kept us close through emails. I am truly blessed with good friends. This is a great reminder not to just have good friends, but to be a good friend. Thanks

    • Hey Lydia, I totally understand that. Even here on theReb is a great place to find friends. I think I may want to explore online friendships a bit more in a future article.

  • Wow, this is fantastic Jason! Really convicting too for me (point 2!), so much wisdom in here! I didn’t have any close friends (except siblings, and barely) until I was nearly 18, and now I literally have around a hundred. (not counting near a thousand not-as-close friends o.O) I so wish that I had known your point 2 when I was 16! It can be really overwhelming at times, because I am an extremely open person, and love people heaps, even from the first time I meet them. However, it’s not socially expected or even accepted to be really open and vulnerable the very first time you meet people, and I’ve struggled with resenting people taking *so long* to be honest with me, after I share my heart straight off. And then my friends expect me to talk to them regularly when I don’t see them, because I am so outgoing and loving and passionate – but how to message and call that many people! Looking through, I struggle with point 2..And 4…and probably 5. 6… And 7! So this is really a challenge and reminder for me. I think the biggest thing I have learned through some severe friendship trials recently was this ‘I am not to be the friend that my friend wants me to be. I am to be the friend that God wants me to be to them’. It sounds simple – but it really sums up a lot of your points, and solved a huge amount of my confusion. If I am honest and genuine in where I’m at, and I am loving people in the way Christ wants me to – those who are to be deep friends, those who will always be shallow, those who don’t like me for their own reasons, and those who need time, will all sort themselves out. As I love God first, and ‘be myself’ as who I am *in* Him, I will be the person that quality people want to be friends with. And I will be the type of friend God wants me to be to all people 😀
    So this is a note of thanks for a totally awesome article! 😀
    And secondly, a word of encouragement to anybody struggling with not many friends – if you are confident in who you are in Christ and you love Him deeply, get point 1 sorted and then seek good friendships – and you’ll find them abundantly! 🙂

    • Amen, sister!!! Thanks for reading. @KudumbaCazz:disqus, you should really consider submitting an article to theReb about this. We need your voice!

  • Oh, I forgot I was gonna share this quote by C.S. Lewis:
    “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
    ― C.S. Lewis

By Jason Zimmerman
rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →