4 Levels of Relationship… Why It’s Important to You and Your Small Group

Growing-with-OptimationWhen you think about it, there are four levels of relationship. Each of them has it’s own set of descriptors. What are the four levels? In my opinion they are, 1) Family, 2) Friend, 3) Acquaintance, and 4) Enemy. A few of my own thoughts on the characteristics of each…


  • A family is birthed in blood. Either you’re a blood relative, are considered one because you married into a family, or the blood of Jesus Christ brought you into His family, the church.
  • Being in a family is an inescapable, lifelong commitment.
  • Family members share real love at the deepest human level.
  • The love family members have for one another is an instinctive love at the deepest level so when family members hurt one another the hurt is the deepest of all relational hurt.
  • Family members forgive wrongs no matter.
  • Family members have differences but are always willing to work them out.


  • Friendship is created when a common bond is created through conversation, shared experiences, common hobbies, common practices, or beliefs.
  • Being in a friendship can be a lifelong connection but oftentimes it is for a period of time or until something separates friends relationally or geographically.
  • Friends love one another at a surface yet real level.
  • The love friends have for one another is an earned love and when friends hurt one another the hurt stings and feels very personal.
  • Friends should forgive one another but if a friendship is lost due to lack of forgiveness, it is possible to walk away and feel no obligation toward that person in the future.
  • Friends have differences but don’t always feel obligated to exert the energy necessary to fix what is broken.


  • An acquaintance occurs when people meet periodically to be involved in a hobby, a cup of coffee, etc… or simply pass one another in the hallway at work or church.
  • Acquaintances can end any day.
  • Acquaintances have no level of commitment to one another.
  • Acquaintances don’t know one another well enough to feel any level of love for one another. The feelings acquaintances have for one another is best described as, “appreciating one another’s presence” and maybe this description is deeper than it actually should be.
  • Acquaintances don’t know one another well enough to discuss anything that might create tension. Acquaintances can easily dodge hard conversations.
  • Acquaintances seldom need to deal with any issues between one another.


  • An enemy is created when the heart of an individual begins to embrace that the person they’re discontented with is hurting them or attacking them or someone they love, and is no longer useful to them.
  • Enemies don’t want to be in one another’s presence.
  • Enemies despise one another.
  • Enemies embrace the opposite of love for one another, they tend to hate one another. Strong words but true.
  • The only conversation enemies tend to have with one another is in anger as every conversation starts believing that the other person is useless to them and attacking of them.
  • Enemies tend to be on the attack and, because of this, never work out their differences.

Why do we need to know these four levels of relationship and the descriptors of each? Because, when we begin to view or treat someone we perceive to be in a category as though they fit into one of the other categories, it won’t be long until we’re describing that person as the new category.

For instance, if you call someone your friend but you begin to describe the way you feel about them or how you relate to them using descriptors that are outlined in the enemy category, before long, you’ll consider them your enemy.

Guard your heart, love like Jesus, and, if you’ve already placed a family member in any of the other categories, repent, make amends, and rebuild the relationship. If you have a friend and are beginning to use descriptors in the acquaintance category, you’re most likely ignoring some issue that needs to be dealt with before you no longer consider that person your friend. Etc…

Love must be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good. Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lack diligence; be fervent in spirit; serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. Be in agreement with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Try to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:9 – 18


2 thoughts on “4 Levels of Relationship… Why It’s Important to You and Your Small Group

Add yours

  1. Interesting thoughts – thanks! A couple meanderings…

    (1) how has social networks/media impacted especially the ‘friendship’ category- for better or worse?

    (2) is relationship always ‘2-way’? (For example, can someONE with an unchangeable blood connection to a family choose, on their part or for them, to no longer ‘be’ part of that family?)

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Hi Randy. I’m not sure I am the right guy to answer these questions with understanding. My opinion would be that social networks have opened the door for “false friendships” and “true acquaintances.” People often consider someone a “friend” they’ve never even seen, touched, or been with in times of need or celebration. Concerning question 2… I am certain that an individual might consider someone a friend but the person they consider a friend would put them in the acquaintance category. I’ve even known relationships where one person considers the other a friend but that person considers them an enemy. Getting to your specific question… yes, a blood relative can escape the “family” but there will always be a bond as God create us for family and that is inescapable. If we’re going to be families as God intended it to be, we cannot escape the emotional and material (meeting the needs of one another when necessary if someone is doing all they can to make ends meet) expectations family members should have for one another.

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