I know about those "work" friendships.
Jan and I started chatting on the phone several years ago when our sons became good friends. Jan is caring and funny, and I enjoy our time together. But she started popping in several times a week. When she came to visit, she clearly expected me to drop everything and play hostess. Even the days she didn't drop by, she called - sometimes several times. "Just one more thing ? " she'd say. Then an hour later, my errands would still be undone and dinner would be late - again.
In addition to the time demands, I started to feel emotionally drained. Jan counted on me for advice in some overwhelming struggles in her marriage, with her children, and even in her finances. She confided that I was really the only person to whom she could talk, so anytime I cut our calls and visits short, I felt I was abandoning her and guilt would creep in.
I've had difficulty learning that sometimes being a good friend is knowing when to lovingly say "no." Loving a friend at all times (Proverbs 17:17) doesn't mean attending to her at all times.
Jan needed more than just my friendship. I knew I needed to encourage her to rely on God to meet her needs. We started praying together, and I began to pray for her more on my own as well. And when I realized I wasn't doing her any favors by not being completely honest with her, I learned to let her know tactfully when I didn't have time to sit and chat. I'm still learning how to be a good friend to her.
To finish this free article, click here.
Excerpted from Facing Fears as a Leader, a new downloadable resource from Gifted for Leadership.