5 Steps Toward Spiritual Friendship


How many close friends do you have? Really close.

Do you have any spiritual friends?

Before I read this book, I had not connected “spiritual” with “friend.”

“Spiritual friendship is learning to see the worth God has placed in each person and appreciating the gifts individuals have to offer.” (p. xviii)

In her first book, Janice Peterson, wife of pastor and author Eugene Peterson, reveals how her journey of life-long spiritual friendships started with one invitation when she was 13-years-old.

The friendship started with her neighbor, Gertrude.

“Come in – I’ll get us some lemonade. You go out to the porch.” (p. xiv)

As I read this book, I felt as if I were at my grandmother’s kitchen table eating rhubarb pie. I loved talking with Momo about God, the Bible, school, girlfriends, and family.

Based on Romans 12, Jan walks us along the “Way of Spiritual Friendship,” as she discusses five aspects of spiritual friendship.

  1. Caring: Choosing to See Others. Intentionally seeing the needs of others.
    “Caring is choosing to see someone. Choosing to be with them right where they are. Choosing to connect with them and listen to what they need.” (p. 23)
  2. Acceptance: Receiving What is Offered. It is choosing to invest in others, even when it is difficult.
  3. Service: Caring in Action. If we care for someone; if we see the needs of others, we must act; we must serve.
    “Service has a way of inspiring others to see the areas of need around them and step out of their comfort zones to help someone else.” (pp. 56-57)
  4. Hospitality: Reaching Out and Bringing In. Gertrude showed Jan hospitality when she stopped what she was doing and invited Jan to enjoy lemonade with her on the porch.
  5. Encouragement: Building Others Up. Encouragement is speaking life and hope to another person. (p. 97)

I reread Romans 12 in light of Jan’s approach to spiritual friendship and smiled. Interesting insight.

Each chapter is filled with examples and experiences that we can apply to our daily lies.

Questions and opportunities for reflection at the end of the chapter make this book a good candidate for a 5-week Bible study.

I look forward to reading more books by Jan Peterson. She has much to offer, and I feel like I’m already her spiritual friend. I hope to meet her someday.

Before his death, Pastor Peterson, author of The Message Bible, wrote of his wife of 60 years.

While I have written extensively on spiritual theology, she has practiced the art of spiritual friendship, “always present, always caring.” She is the most practical theologian I know. Through the deeply personal friendships she has invested herself in over the course of a lifetime, she has become more her God-created self in the company of others. (p. 124)

I imagine Pastor Peterson is smiling from heaven. He stepped into heaven shortly before the book was available.

You can download an excerpt of Becoming Gertrude on the Tyndale website.

I received a copy of Becoming Gertrude: How Our Friendships Shape Our Faith from the publisher for my honest review.

My prayer

Our heavenly Father, thank You for Jan and Eugene Peterson. You enabled them to work side-by-side to leave a great legacy to Your children. Bless Jan in her new adventure with You as an author. Take her by Your right hand and lead her in the new works that You have created for her and equipped her to accomplish. Comfort her with the many wonderful memories of her beloved Eugene, and give her peace. Thank You, Lord, for the message she has given to us all. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Related Post: A Rare Sit-Down with Jan Peterson