COLLINS COLUMN: We need friends of every age to thrive in the family of faith

Published 9:30 am Saturday, November 18, 2023

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By Dean Collins
President, Point University

The most valuable coursework and research I did in graduate school was in the area of family systems. I learned what you have probably figured out simply by looking around you: Every family has a certain amount of dysfunction. No family is perfect, and if you try to create a perfect family, you might just end up making things more dysfunctional.

Every family is on a continuum that on one end is too close or enmeshed and on the other end is too distant or disengaged. And no matter where your family is on the continuum, each family member develops strengths and weaknesses in how they interact with people outside of their family of origin.

God in his wisdom created both the original family system of a mother and father raising children together and the family of God, which provides a new structure of love and support for each us and can mend the wounds that might come from our original family.

The wise king of Proverbs talks about family. In today’s verse, he speaks of the importance of generational loyalty: “Do not forsake your friend and your father’s friend.” 

I don’t remember making an intentional decision about having friends of different generations, but I am blessed beyond description because of the younger and older friends in my life. If you haven’t yet done so, I strongly encourage you to build friendships that are 10 and 20 years younger than you and 10 to 20 years older. The wisdom and perspective of different generations will broaden your perspective on many topics and provide joy and vitality to both you and your generational friends.

Many families live miles apart. I have lived 450 miles from my brothers and their families for nearly 50 years. While I know they love me and would do what they could to help me in a time of need, the geography of our lives naturally leads to not being intimately involved in each other’s lives. Proverbs tells us that in a time of need, a brother or sister of faith are both closer in distance and probably closer in understanding what we are going through.

I have many older and younger friends within minutes of where I live and work, and without these dear friends, life would be much harder and far less enjoyable! And I feel confident my friends of different generations would agree that God has placed us in each other’s lives not only to bless us but also to use us in furthering his kingdom work!

So before you have a day of calamity (which eventually comes to all of us), take time to deepen your friendships with some older and younger people. The family of God is rich and deep and spans generations. And when we work together we can change the world.