A couple of weeks ago during our huddle up time at the end of karate class, I was talking to our students about friends. We were discussing what a friend is, and isn’t, and what kind of friend each of us should strive to be. I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately especially in regards to choosing friends wisely. Who we bring into our inner circle of friendship has a huge impact on our life for good or bad. I’ve heard it said that we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with. Which makes sense given the fact that not only can behaviors rub off on others, but studies have shown that when you are around or in a conversation with someone that even your brain waves can start to synchronize. That can be a really cool thought, or a really scary one depending on who you spend the most time around. Think about that for yourself, and the 5 people you spend the most time with. Who we spend time around can (and will to a certain degree) effect our behavior as well as effect how we spend our time, money, and energy. The Bible tells us this (the book of Proverbs especially!), and so does many other sources as well.
Below is my personal list of 5 sets of traits that I look for in people to be friends with, and that I believe each of us should be striving to cultivate in ourselves as well.
1. Selfless/Giver. “Be a fountain, not a drain.” It’s a cliche saying but oh so true! When two people who are both seeking to be fountains in other’s lives form a friendship, it can be a truly blessed, energizing, joy filled, and encouraging relationship. The flip side of the coin is the drain/selfish person who really can drain everything from you: your joy, energy, motivation, money, time, resources, etc. You name it, they can and will drain you of it.
Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also the interests of others. Philippians 2:4
For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. James 3:16
Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13
2. Positive/Encourager. Someone who has the ability to see a positive where most people would see a negative is a truly valuable friend to have! These people will add sunshine and encouragement to your life just by their attitude alone. When someone has the opposite tendency of always seeing life, situations, and people negatively, it can (and will) tend to drag you down into a cloud of despair that is difficult to escape from, especially if you aren’t a positive thinker yourself.
Therefore comfort each other and edify one another just as you also are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – think on these things. Philippians 4:8
A merry spirit does good like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones. Proverbs 17:22
3. Speaks Well of Others/ Discreet. When someone is always speaking well of others and exerts discretion in what they say, it’s usually a good indicator that you can trust them. People who love to talk about others and do so negatively tend to be the source of a lot of division and heartache, as well as lost friendships.
Let your speech always be seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. Colossians 4:6
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth but that which is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. Ephesians 4:29
He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends. Proverbs 17:9
A perverse man sows strife, And a whisperer separates the best of friends. Proverbs 16:28
4. Is Honest/ Seeks the Truth. An honest friend is a trustworthy friend. Someone who not only lives honestly but proactively seeks to know the truth and will speak the truth to you even when it is difficult, is someone you want by your side. I would say honesty should be a requirement for any friendship worth having because finding yourself in a spot of trying to discern what is true among a web of lies and deceit is not a very good place to be. I’ve been there and done that (and if you haven’t already) just trust me on this one.
Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Psalm 34:13
There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health. The truthful lip shall be established forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment. Proverbs 12:18-19,
Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord but those who deal truthfully are His delight. Proverbs 12:22
5. Visionary/Seeker of Excellence. Misery loves company. So does, mediocrity, sloth, and many other things that none of us need in our life. If you surround yourself with people of vision who are seeking excellence in their life, you will be encouraged to do the same.
As iron sharpen iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. Proverbs 27:17
Where there is no vision the people perish… Proverbs 29:18
Not the highest quality picture, but definitely a high quality group! I choose this picture because each person in it is someone who is a part of my life in a special way and each one of them exhibit the traits I talk about in this post (and yes most of these people are my family) Just missing my dad who was the one taking the picture.
And that concludes this post on friendships. What is at the top of your list of traits to look for in people you choose as friends? Can you identify with anything I said about how negative traits in others can also negatively effect you?