What does true friendship look like? Here are two essentials, as seen in Moses and Jethro’s relationship:
- True Friendships Provide a Safe Place to Share Struggles and Successes
Some relationships allow the freedom to share successes. Others don’t. Why? Because one individual’s insecurities breed jealousy upon hearing about the other’s achievements. Those insecurities might also breed wrongful judgment about the other’s motives. Thankfully we see none of this in Moses and Jethro’s relationship.
Imagine the two men reunited after a long time apart. They greet each other and then Moses invites Jethro into his tent where he proceeds to tell his father-in-law everything the Lord had done to Pharaoh and Egypt on Israel’s behalf. He also recalls the hardships the Israelites encountered, and how God rescued them from their troubles. Jethro listens, and then he responds with delight (Exodus 18:7-11). No jealousy, no fear of being outshone.
How affirming for Moses, the reluctant leader, to see Jethro’s positive response. And how wonderful to see their unity as they celebrate together the Lord’s presence and power.
- True Friendships Provide a Safe Place to Challenge or Confront
Some relationships allow the freedom to offer advice or confront. Others don’t. Why? Again, because insecurities get in the way. One person might see the need to speak up for the other person’s sake, but he knows the recipient will likely feel threatened. That person then hesitates to say anything lest doing so injures the relationship. Again, we see none of this in Moses and Jethro’s relationship.
The day after the tent talk, Moses carries on work as usual. People line up from morning until evening, waiting to air their grievances and hear his advice. Jethro watches, notes the toll this takes on Moses, and then offers advice that, if heeded, will lighten Moses’ load. Moses listens, recognizes the wisdom in Jethro’s words, and does as he suggests.
True friendships flourish when people feel safe to share their struggles and successes without feeling judged or misinterpreted. They also flourish when there’s freedom to challenge or confront when one’s well-being is at stake. Lots of other dynamics are involved in genuine relationships, but these two characteristics are essential.
Agree or disagree?