Experts believe that who you become in the next five years depends on several factors; one factor including the friends you make. Leadership coach, expert and bestselling author John Maxwell champions this concept. He makes this an eye-opening statement in his book, “Winning with People: Discover the People Principles That Work for You Every Time.” And it is an idea that I wholeheartedly agree with.
Our friendships are important. They determine the course of our lives. They determine how we live our lives, consciously or subconsciously—and that is why we must be mindful of whom we hang around with and call our friends.
The Bible admonishes us to choose our friends wisely. Proverbs 13:20 states, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (ESV). We understand that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). So, when God, through the Bible, says when we walk with the wise, we will become wise; He is saying that we should choose friends who fear Him and those who walk by His Word, those who walk in obedience. He desires that our friends will be such people: People who will inspire us to draw closer to Him than those who will move us away from him.
When you pray, remember to pray about and for your friends. Allow God to lead you to the right friends. Let the journey begin with prayer.
Ask God in prayer.
Ask God for godly friends, or those who are determined to walk in His will. When you pray like this, believe God will answer and give you godly friends. He says that when we ask anything in line with His will, He hears us (1 John 5:14-15). Thank Him for the response.
Let the Word lead you in your choices.
After prayer and thanksgiving, the next step will be choosing your friends based on what you discovered from the Word of God. Aside from friends who are wise and, therefore, godly, God tells us not to be a companion of those who are easily angered (Proverbs 22:24). Love is not easily angered (1 Corinthians 13:5). Yet, by being friends with the quick-tempered, we put ourselves at risk of learning their ways. This idea is the very thing that Maxwell was alluding to when he wrote that we become the friends we choose. This becoming can occur subtly and so slowly that someone would not recognize it. When we let the Bible lead us and choose our friends accordingly, we save ourselves a lot of trouble, including getting outside of God’s will, purpose and calling for our lives—again, another reason why carefully choosing our friends matters.
Take note of how they live.
Do these individuals who have entered your life after prayer (or are already in your life and you’re still trying to evaluate or assess their friendship) live according to biblical standards? I understand that everybody is at a different stage in their Christian walk. But if you want to be better, would you rather walk with someone already further along in their Christian walk and is walking in God’s will? By doing this, you also avoid being negatively influenced by an individual who is not a strong or committed Christian. Examine whether these individuals who have entered your life (or are already in it) are living out the Word of God.
Ask questions such as: Do they love their neighbors as much as themselves? Do they live according to biblical principles, or are they just professing Christianity without living it? It’s essential to watch the fruit of their lives. Just as Jesus told us that we would know false prophets by their fruits, we will know those who are true followers (and friends) by their fruits. Don’t ignore that.
Consider also whether where the person is going in life is where you are going, too. In other words, look at the life the person is living and determine whether that’s the kind of life you would like to have or the person you would like to be in the next five years. Our friends shape us, knowingly or unknowingly to us, so we must choose them well.
What are qualities to look for in a friend?
What qualities must you look for in your friends besides what we’ve already considered? Some specific godly characters to think about:
Trustworthiness. When a friend is trustworthy, you can share your plans with them or some of the things you worry or deeply care about, and they will not turn around and use them against you. You should feel comfortable and safe sharing those details with a trustworthy friend.
Loyalty. Linked to trustworthiness is loyalty or commitment. “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17, ESV). A loyal friend is always there, regardless of your state. Friends are there in the good and bad times, sharing those happy moments and walking through those challenging times with you.
Honesty. When a friend is honest, they don’t have to hide who they are or pretend to be something they are not. You take them for who they are and they take you for who you are. They are also honest regarding their feelings about your thoughts or something you may bring up with them that they may not necessarily agree with. They’re not afraid to tell you how they feel but always does so with wisdom, kindness and love.
Supportive. A supportive friend is encouraging. They support your godly ideas. They show that they endorse you and that no matter what you choose to do if it’s in line with God’s will for your life, they approve it! We all need such friends because life is all about choices! Genuine friends care about you!
When I look at my good friends, who I know have a religious background and are living Christian lives, in addition to a dedication to God and passion for Him and His work, these are some of the qualities that I find helpful in our friendship. Make sure you’re this type of friend to the godly friends God will bring into your life.
Moreover, we must ensure that our need or craving for love does not lead us to the wrong people. Let’s thank God when He brings the right people into our lives instead of the false friends, acquaintanceships and associations. In such instances of God taking out the wrong people and bringing the right people, it is His grace at work.
The right friends will make our lives so much better and cause us to be much more in alignment with God’s will, plan, purposes and calling for our lives if we are not already well-aligned!
Let’s, therefore, choose our friends carefully. Let’s remember to pray about our friendships, let the Word of God lead our choices in this regard, examine the lives of those friends and look for specific, godly characters in these friends. Godly friends are trustworthy, loyal, honest and supportive. When choosing your friends, remember these key points! It will shape your life for the better. In time, you’ll thank God for blessing you with exceptional, God-fearing friends He created to help you to your great destiny! Oh, God will prove Himself faithful—again!
for further REFLECTION:
To choose your friends wisely, it is vital to:
- Let the Word of God guide you by searching for Scriptures on friendships.
- Observe friends’ lives by examining their decisions to see if they align with God’s Word.
- Read YouVersion Bible plans on friendships.
This article was originally titled “Choosing Friends Wisely” in the November 2023 issue of Peer.