Do you have friends or are you in search of a friend and you are not even aware of it? Who would you tell me is your friend and what are some of the characteristics of a true friend?
Many will say that a friend is someone who understands you, and if they don’t, they try to. A friend wants to know what you’re all about and what you need. A friend is somebody who is there for you when they can be, but also sets boundaries when they need to. Many things make someone a good friend, and the definition of what makes a true friendship is, I believe, mostly based on our emotions and how we feel about the relationship. Don’t get me wrong, emotions have their place in each and every relationship but that is not what true friendship should be based on – feelings!
Some friendships start because of shared interests. Others grow from proximity or common life circumstances. Friendships can be based on many things. But there is something uniquely special about a friendship based on the Word of God.
There are guidelines and principles that can help us excel in relationships and to understand people. I will share with you 5 elements of true friendship which I hope will help you evaluate your friends and friendships.
1. Friend should be a source of encouragement and lifting
Proverbs 27:17 tells us that iron sharpens iron and one man sharpens another.
Proverbs 17:17 also tells us that a friend loves at all times and a brother is born out of adversity.
The above two Proverbs tell us of the types of friendships we need to invest in. If any of your friendships do not culminate in any form of sharpening, that friendship is useless. There are many friends and friendships that do not serve us. There are people with whom we spend numerous amounts of time with and at the end of the day, we leave them feeling so empty. We feel so drained and as though they have completely sucked the life out of us. These types of friends are only available when they need something or in certain circumstances. If someone is truly your friend, their commitment to you should not depend on circumstances. A friend should be a source of encouragement and lifting. My friend, how much time are you wasting with people who you believe are your friends.
2. How many friends do you have?
The same book of Proverbs cautions us and tells us that a man of many companions may come to ruin.
How many friends do you have? As a society, we pride ourselves on having very many friends and the truth is, they will be there as long as things in your life are going well. At the first sight of trouble, how many of them do you believe will stay? How many people do you share your life with? I don’t mean acquaintances; I mean true friends? If your life, my friend, is not uncommon to the extent that it will drive certain people away, then it means you have no values and principles. Every person who calls themselves your friend should be able to see the template of their life in you by the activities you engage in. If you hang out with drunkards, my friends, be sure that this is the template people will connect to you because of the vibe that you give out. We are living in a world where we think that because everyone is comfortable with us, it makes us a friend – no. This means that you have no standards and therefore something is wrong.
3. A friend is someone who you follow to influence your life
If you are afraid of being controversial, you must forget about being a Leader. It takes courage to be controversial and exceptional in life. The reason we have many friends is because we want to agree with everybody. Many of us are afraid of defining our standards because we are afraid our standards will rob us of certain people. Remember this, that a friend is someone who you allow to influence your life. Faithful is the discomfort you feel from the correction of a friend; one who loves you enough to tell you the truth. It will sting your ego, yes. But it will uplift you if you listen to it and make the necessary changes.
4. A friend will correct and chalenge you
A true friend is someone who should be willing to risk their friendship with you so that you may excel in life. This would mean that if after telling them the truth, I lose out on the friendship, so be it. My friends, it is better to lie with a wise enemy than a foolish friend. Some of us hate the people that can correct us; someone who has the courage to challenge us. However, this is a true friend. Remember, a person who partners with you to do evil, will do evil against you.
5. The apex of true friendship is sacrifice
How much are you willing to inconvenience yourself to see other people excel? Anyone who cannot inconvenience themselves for the sake of your friendship is not your friend. Be wary of joining or being in groups of people who are going nowhere. You become softened to sin and find that your standards will start bending.
As you read this, you may be searching and scheming through your life and find that you really do not have a friend, let alone friends. Don’t be disheartened. Every one of us has a need for close relationships. However, be not deceived, bad company corrupts good morals. A man without standards is like a city with no watch.
As a leader, you have an assignment on this earth that you must fulfil within the time that you are here on earth. This means that you employ discipline in all facets of your life including your relationships and friendships. I say this because people are wonderful, and we were created for relationships, but they can also be a great source of distraction and time-wasting. Focus on your Maker and ask Him to send the right friends your way. Not good ones, rather right ones; the ones He knows you need and not the ones that you want.