Sunday, February 19, 2012

Finding Fellowship

By Diane Paddison

God brought them into my life around the time I first moved to Dallas. First there was Savannah, then Sue, Brenda, and Claire. We were all professional women, all Christians, and all experiencing motherhood and marriage or divorce (or both). And boy did I need them! I was a single parent in a new city. I had found a good church, but as a professional woman, I sometimes felt like I wasn’t really seen or understood by the church community. Officially, my workplace was family and faith-friendly, but that didn’t always make it comfortable to be a single mom and a conservative Christian. There were so many areas of my life where I felt isolated, but with these women I was known and accepted always.

We formed a sort of informal group, meeting every-other week just to share. And over the years it’s been one of the most valuable things in my life.

To form a group like mine, just follow these guidelines:

(1) Keep it small and simple. Five people or fewer is best, aim for a group in the same stage of life and professional level. No agenda. No book to study. No pressure to maintain perfect attendance. Our group meets every other week over lunch, and at times various members have felt free to take time off from the group if they needed to.

(2) Keep it relational. This isn’t a Bible study. It’s about “us.” We talk about the things that keep us up at night. And we don’t try to solve each other’s problems. Just listen, care, and pray.

(3) Keep it confidential. Invite women with whom you’ve had some history and know you can trust. It’s best (but not strictly necessary) to recruit women outside of your company/ministry. Figuratively (or actually) vow to each other, “What’s said at this table stays at this table.” The key is to establish a safe environment where each of you can share, support, and recharge.

Whether you already have your own group or you’re starting fresh, I encourage you to be intentional about making room for some solid Christian friendships. Developing an authentic group of friends of like spirit, professional level, and stage of life will give you much-needed support as you navigate life. Rushed “catch-up” conversations in the hall after church or late-night Facebook chats from the office don’t count. Like any other relationship, true friendship requires investment of real time and energy.

Trust me, this is one investment you’ll never regret!

Diane Paddison is the President of, a speaker and the author of Work, Love, Pray. You can order her book at the FullFill Store! She is also a board member and Chief Strategy Officer for Cassidy Turley and serves on the board of The Salvation Army. In the past, she has served as COO of both Trammell Crow and ProLogis. Her blog is based on the 2/15 webinar she presented for FullFill If you missed it, join us next time! Click here to register!


  1. I'm a little disappointed by Diane's recommendation under number one that your group be at the same stage of life and professional level. The richest group I've invested in as she discusses was made up of an older single lady (40s+), newly married girl, a young mother of two and me (20-something-single) all with different jobs and work experience. We built into one another's lives in so many diverse and wonderful ways I wouldn't have traded it for a group of single-20-something-girls with no experience for anything!

  2. I fully understand Diane's stage-of-life and professional level recommendation. I love a mixed group, and there is a lot of mentoring that can take place in that setting, but I've also found great value in a group of peers who are going through the same struggles.

    I think God puts us in different places and stages for a season. When I was a young stay-at-home mom, I loved the friendships with moms who were a stage ahead of me with their families. Later on, I was able to be that "stage ahead" mom with other gals. But I'm in a stage now where I really need other women who are in the same place. I don't know how long this stage may last, but for now this small group is meeting a critical need in my life.

    And a hearty AMEN to having friends outside your immediate circle of friends. I could go on and on about the value of being able to openly share with somebody who will never cross paths with your family and friends, but who will pray.

    Thanks for the great post, Diane!