Spiritual Practice

Clique vs Circle of Friends

Carol E. Lytch with Katie Lytch, 15

In the opening scene of the movie 10 Things I Hate About You, a new boy is taken around the high school and oriented to the different social groups. His guide points out the Beautiful People (“unless they talk first, don’t bother”), the Coffee Kids (“they’re very edgy — don’t make any sudden movements”), the Cowboys (“the closest they’ve come to a cow is McDonald’s”), the Future M.B.A.s (“all Ivy League-accepted — yuppie greed is back”), and finally the Don’t-Even-Think-About-It group (which includes the most desirable girl to date).

While this portrayal of high-school cliques may be exaggerated for the sake of humor, most teenagers can readily identify different groups in their high school. Seven high-school freshmen who go to six different schools in our city recently came up with a list of 41 cliques! Some cliques they named were common to more than one school (like “the smart people” and “the jocks”), while others were unique (like “the anorexics” and “the grunge skaters”). Each group claimed its own special place in the cafeteria. I bet you can name the cliques in your high school too.

circle of teens FTR TSP 122829567Clique is a negative term implying snobbery and exclusiveness. But it is normal and healthy to establish friendships with particular people in regular and stable ways so that a circle of friends develops. You may enjoy the same activities as certain other people or simply like spending time with them. As part of your loyalty to one another, you establish informal understandings about who is in your circle. A dependable circle of friends can give you a secure feeling. Yet by creating an “inside” of the circle, you automatically create an “outside.” This divide between “in” and “out” is the tricky part.

Jesus had twelve friends who formed a definite circle. Yet he also had good friends besides these twelve disciples, including Mary, Martha, and their brother, Lazarus. He cared so much for them that he wept when Lazarus died (see John 11:17–44). And Jesus’ friendships also extended beyond the people who were like him. In fact, he associated with those who were shunned — tax collectors, sinners, and groups that were hated, such as the Samaritans. Jesus’ circle of friends was an ever-growing, welcoming circle.

What is your circle of friends like? Is it open and welcoming, or is it enclosed by high walls with a border guard to check the credentials of anyone who wants in? Does your circle include friends from another culture? race? age-group? economic level? Think about how you could influence your friendship circle to welcome different kinds of newcomers.



On the night before he died, Jesus shared a meal with his disciples. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you,” he said. “No longer do I call you servants,” he told them, “but I have called you friends” (John 15:12, 15, paraphrase). He invited them to share his relationship with God and the Holy Spirit, and he showed them that being his friends included being good friends to one another. The circle of people with Jesus at its heart — the people called Christians — has been making friends ever since, within the circle and beyond the circle, reaching into a wide world of human beings, each one unique but each created by God to be in relationships.

REFLECT: How do you include Jesus in your circle of friends?


—Excerpted from the “Friends” chapter of Way to Live: Christian Practices for Teens. Copyright © 2002 by Dorothy C. Bass and Don C. Richter. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. All rights reserved.

—from devozine (November/December 2004). Copyright © 2004 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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