They are: the prophet (who asks us the question “What is guiding your decisions in life?”), the cheerleader (who supports us in tough times), the harasser (who teases us so we don't take ourselves too seriously) and the spiritual guide (who encourages us to find meaning in our lives.)
In line with the material in that book (as well as Touching the Holy [(Ave Maria Press] and After 50 [Paulist Press] which also deal with the topic), the following questions and statements might help us appreciate the tapestry of the different types of friends we have or might need:
Do I have people with whom I can simply be myself?
What types of friends do I value most? Why?
What do I feel are the main qualities of friendship?
List and briefly describe the friends who are in my life now?
Describe ones who are no longer alive or present to me now but who have made an impact on my life. Why do I think they were able to make such a difference in my life?
Among my circle of friends, who are my personal heroes or role models?
Who are the prophets in my life? In other words, who confronts me with the question: “To what voices am I responding to in life?”
Who help me see my relationships, mission in life, and self-image more clearly? How are they able to do this?
Who encourage me in a genuine way through praise and a nurturing spirit?
Who teases me into gaining a new perspective when I am too preoccupied or tied up in myself?
Who helps me experience the living God in new ways and helps me let go of stagnant images of the Lord as well as outmoded ways of praying?
When and with whom do I play different roles as a friend?
When people are distant from friends I encourage them to e-mail, write or call them. In writing we can share things in ways we are not able to do over the phone. Many years ago a friend of mine was far away for a couple of years. We corresponded and learned about each other in ways we never had in the past (and haven't since he returned.)
Writing is a lost art for many people. I have tried to keep it going for myself in my journaling as well as in sending e-mails. Dropping a card, letter or e-mail sometimes does more good than the writer ever suspects. It is a great act of friendship and a beautiful way to give/receive ministry.
(This article courtesy of the Arlington Catholic Herald.)