August 22, 2012

Consider Three Friends…

By Andrew at 2:03 PM

Have you ever considered the differences in interaction between you and your friends? It seems to me that we have, in general, three specific types of friends, at least in the way that we contribute to the relationships. We have friends that are our mentors, friends that walk through the challenges of life alongside us, and friends that we ourselves mentor.
Like so many forms of categorization, the topic I chose to discuss today is best viewed as a reflection, rather than a prescription, of how things work in reality. In other words, my purpose of defining such relations is not for you to go out and search for a “mentor” friend. On the contrary, it is more interesting to take a look at current friends and contemplate what sort of friend an acquaintance is in order to better understand your relationship with them.
The majority of my friends tend to be people that share the challenges of life by walking through it alongside me. Sure, we each mentor one another on various topics, but neither of us is the “expert” in the various issues we encounter. As well, this type of friend can oftentimes share a lot less in common with me while yet providing perhaps the most currently applicable insight. Such friendships can be very strong, since we are continuously making mistakes and backing one another up.
The second type of friend, a very important and influential category, is the mentor. Our mentors have a unique role as we oftentimes show great respect for these friends while easily interacting with them as a “buddy.” Good mentors exhibit much patience, and they usually have already journeyed through whatever trials you look to them for guidance on the most. They are not perfect, of course, and they seldom have the ability to act as a comprehensive mentor in your life. Instead, you may have one mentor for your job and another mentor for relational issues, or you may have a large number of mentors for an equally large number of situations.
The third type of friend is essentially the opposite of the second type. Few people think of friends in this way, but a friend whom you mentor yourself can be rather rewarding. For example, once I battle my way through an issue with the help of my own mentor, I see very few opportunities that are as rewarding as the opportunity to extend this knowledge and experience to my own friends who have not had the benefit of these experiences. Sometimes these friends are younger, but I am finding that this is not always the case.
I hope that this helps you to think about the various friendships you have, and potentially adds some insight into how you relate to others. Over my lifetime I have had various mentors, many “side-by-side” friends, and several friends that I acted as a mentor to. If nothing else, this little exercise of categorization may help us realize that we all have something to offer in each of our unique friendships.

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