My Ink Dance

Discovering Extraordinary Grace in an Ordinary Life

How To Have Equally Yoked Friendships

For some, friendship looks natural and easy like taking a stroll on a nice day. That has never been my reality. Friendship is hard work, and often leaves me fumbling and awkward. I’m honored to welcome Bethany to share today about how we can strengthen our friendships.

Ever participated in a three-legged race? Your leg is bound to a partner’s. Then, you’re supposed to run, together, to a destination.

I remember the terror of participating in this sort of for-bystanders’-amusement-only activity. The image in my mind is fresh: I was looking up at someone I didn’t know, who appeared larger than life, as they exclaimed “hang on!” Then I tasted dirt. My partner’s frustration at my lack of coordination and pace was all the more bitter to swallow.

Equally Yoked

I’ve been the friend unequally yoked, dragged along by someone headed somewhere emphatically I wasn’t interested in or equipped to go to.

But I’ve also been the friend marching ahead, feeling as if I’m hauling dead weight.

Fostering healthy, deep relationships changes this dynamic. It’s possible for us to run (or carefully plod along) with our friends in the three-legged race of faith.

We begin by training.

The Strategy

Equally yoked friendships are intentional. Unlike relationships based on doing, circumstance, or convenience, deep friendships are formed when we share a commitment to the same goal and agree to help each other get there.

If you’re looking for deep friendships, start right there. Start by identifying friends who are headed where you’re headed: after Jesus.

Tips for Practice

For believers, Scripture offers plenty of insight into what it’s like to run the race of faith together. A few of the best tips for “doing life” together according to God’s best:

  • Build Up Strength

1 Thessalonians 5:11 teaches us to “encourage one other and build each other up.” The phrase “build up” is regularly used to describe the work of believers in relationships. We can build our race-partners up many ways, including through prayer, encouragement, cheering on, and fellowship in worship. Building up can mean promoting a friend’s growth or helping them to stand strong.

  • Stick Close

Deep friendships involve carrying on together through the fair and the stormy seasons. Sometimes this means picking a friend up when they fall (Ecclesiastes 4:10.) You can’t run the race together — wherever you are along the way — if you aren’t together.

The examples of friendship we see in Scripture distinctly feature such commitment.

  • “Surely I will never leave you,” Elisha said to Elijah (2 Kings 2:2.)
  • Jonathon loved David as He did His own soul (1 Samuel 18:3.)
  • Jesus laid down His life –literally- to ensure His friends could be with Him forever (John 15:13.)
  • Proverbs 18:24 encourages us, “surely there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother, one who is not unreliable.
  • Point to the Prize

In letters between Paul, Timothy, Peter, and the churches they loved and cherished, we find a consistent example of pointing those we love to the prize: Christ. One of the best images we find of lifelong friendship: “every creature…all that is in them, saying, ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!’” (Rev 5:13.)

Our reward is in heaven, not in the acceptance or accomplishments we find on earth. This is what we have to remind our friends to spur each other on in faith. The result is amazing: the joy of the fruit is doubled when it is shared, we yield a good return for our labor (Ecclesiastes 4:9.)

Deep friendships

  • Let Love be the Bind

For two oxen plowing the field, a yoke is what binds them together in their work. Two friends in a three-legged race are bound by a rope. Friendships get deep when love is the bind holding people together. Lesser things in common leave us with rope burn, sore knees, and the frustration of failing to operate as a team. All thorough Scripture we read that this is by God’s design. Love binds all together in perfect unity (Colossians 3:14.)

  • Call Out for Clarity

Practically speaking, one of the hardest parts of running the race of faith together in friendship is being on the same page, playing the same play, moving in unison. Calling out for clarity helps.

Ask friends to catch up on what God’s been doing in their life. Update your prayers according to your friends’ needs.

photoA learner at heart, Bethany McIlrath believes that listening to the Lord’s Word and being attentive to all that He teaches her through daily life is a priceless blessing. Eager to share about her Savior, you can find Bethany’s writing on her blog First and Second. She would love to connect with you on Twitter or Facebook as well. 


Sharing words with these great writers today!



About Becky Hastings

I am emotional and logical. I am strong and dependent. I am a juxtaposition of head and heart exploring it all through writing. And in all my mixed-up ways I am loved. I'm here to tell you that you are, too. Just the way you are.

24 Replies

  1. Love the biblical tips to have a strong friendship, Bethany. Thanks!

  2. What a wonderful post! I am so grateful for the precious friends God has placed in my life…those who hold my feet to the fire and spur me crossward and Heavenward when I am tired and tempted to lay down my cross. Thank you for sharing what God placed on your heart…it is always a blessing, and thank you, Becky, for sharing your space with Bethany! It is so nice to meet you! 🙂

    1. So thankful you have friends like that too, Cheryl! What a blessing! Thank you for sharing : )

    2. Becky Hastings

      I’m honored to have her here Cheryl! It’s great to meet you too!

  3. Beautiful post! I am grateful to have read your words today. Loved that you shared examples of friendship for us to learn from. Blessings!

    1. Thanks Joanne! Grateful you’re here and for God’s example to us!

  4. Really like some of the points you made here! Even friendship has to be focused on Christ! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Beautiful words on friendship here today, Bethany. Your words blessed me as they made me remember some of my dear friends. 🙂

    1. Aw, I’m glad! So grateful for dear, godly friends!

  6. Rhiannon

    Absolutely love this! I have found myself in a few strained friendships and this was an encouragement on how to feed the good ones. Thank you #intentionallypursuing

    1. Glad to help feed the good ones! Strained friendships can be tough : / Will pray they can be strengthened or changed in a Godly way!

  7. Excellent post Bethany😘 and good to see you on Becky’s blog.
    I like all the points you mentioned
    I’m definitely sharing this!
    God bless

    1. Becky Hastings

      It’s definitely worth sharing & remembering!

    2. Thank you, Ifeoma! So grateful to be here : )

  8. I love this whole idea of equally yoked friendships, I agree that in order to be equally yoked, we must be intentional. It’s so important!

    1. Becky Hastings

      It makes a huge difference! Even if we start small with one or two friendships, we will reap the results!

    2. Yes! Even if we begin equally yoked by the grace of God, as we continue to move forward in friendship there are challenges we must be intentional though to grow together. Thanks, Sarah!

  9. Yes! These kinds of friendships are such a treasure. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Becky Hastings

      I’m so glad you enjoyed Bethany’s post!

  10. I really enjoyed this! Friendships for me had been hit or miss for years because of being unequally yoked in friendships. I didn’t even think of that term until this post! Thank you for sharing this!

    1. Becky Hastings

      I can relate Kela! I am so grateful for Bethany’s wisdom on friendship. It is a topic that is so rarely talked about, yet so necessary! I found this book really helpful a few years ago…

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