Walking Shoulder to Shoulder ….. Vaughan Roberts
In this short book, Roberts seeks to think briefly on the topic on friendship. It is a helpful endeavor as he seeks not only relate friendship to the Christian, but seeks to help the non-Christian to see their need for Jesus for the basis of any meaningful friendship. Roberts continues throughout the book to seek to explain the need for friendship in everyone’s life, this especially relevant in today’s society. Roberts sheds some helpful commentary on how to have healthy friendships and dangers to watch out for.
Amongst other issues, True Friendship addresses the topic of constructive criticism that comes in the context of friendship. He suggests that we respond as follows:-
We should expect criticism because we are sinful, so far from the holiness God requires and so far from the holiness we desire. If anything we ought to be surprised that we receive so little criticism. We should also expect criticism because friendships—especially close friendships—invite it. Criticism may arise from a negative spirit, but it can also arise from love. Our best friends must have an open invitation to offer criticism of our lives. Is there no one in your life who offers you critical feedback? Then it may be that you have chased off your friends by responding poorly and pridefully in the past. Expect to be criticized from time to time, and give your friends an open invitation to do so.
When we receive criticism, and especially when that criticism stings or seems outrageous, we need to examine it to see if it is true. It may be that our friends have a faulty perspective, but it may be that they have a better perspective that we do. George Orwell was right when he said, “To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.” Humility admits that others may see what we cannot or will not see ourselves. Roberts says, “We should resist the instinctive temptation to defend ourselves or attack the critic, but rather consider whether there is truth in what is being said.” Prayerfully examine that criticism to see if it is true and fair.
There will be times the criticism will be painful but true. In such times, we will need to endure that criticism as we respond to it by making changes to our lives. There are times the criticism will sting because we come to believe the criticism is unfair. In either case, we need to keep ourselves from responding in kind or lashing out at the one who criticized us. We must resist the temptation to gossip about that person or to sever the friendship. Far better, we must endure criticism just as Christ Jesus patiently endured all the criticism that was heaped upon him. As always, as ever, he is our model.
This book is helpful for anyone who is struggling in friendships and seeking advice as how to deals with the various issues. The book may also be extremely helpful for young (and old) people to read and to think on the friendships they have and how important they are. It is also a helpful resource and opportunity for Christians to show the importance of Jesus to people who do not know who Jesus and this through the basis of friendship. I would definitely encourage anyone to pick up this book and read it at least once… and then pick it up again and read it with a friend.