Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Anatomy of a Good Friend

"As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend." - Proverbs 27:17


Want to know what your future looks like? Take a look at who you're hanging out with.

Who we surround ourselves with speaks volumes about who we are. 

Where are they taking you? What are you doing with them? What are they speaking into your life? Are your friends helping you become the kind of person you want to be or the person you said you would never be?

What are you looking for in a friend? What does an iron-sharpening-gentle-as-a-dove-yet-built-Ford-tough friend look like? 


A good friend has a heart for people, someone whose intentions are pure and will put God and others first. They are warm and compassionate, kind-hearted and gentle, selfless and patient. They will point you to Jesus for answers and will love you with the kind of sacrificial love that Jesus showed them. A good friend will show grace and forgiveness, not holding anything against you like someone keeping score.


When you find someone who is loyal and willing to stand by your side during the most difficult of times, you have a friend for the long haul. They are also willing to walk with you and run to you during your time of need.


Whether it’s helping you load the moving truck as you get ready to move across the country or helping you develop and reach your goals and dreams, a good friend will not just sit along the sidelines -- they will lend a helping hand or two to help you get the job done.


Do your friends greet you with a smile or a cold shoulder? A good friend makes you feel celebrated, not just tolerated. They will honor you and respect you in their actions and with their words. They won’t tear you down, they will build you up. 


When the world seems to be crumbling around us like a cave in an Indiana Jones movie, a true friend is available. Whether it’s meeting up for a cup of coffee or just talking over the phone, they go the extra mile (or two) to be there. They won’t always be able to -- life is crazy like that sometimes -- but they make the effort. They have a shoulder you can lean -- or cry -- on.  


Is this a person you can turn to for sound advice? They should be able to provide you with a perspective that will help you process through difficult decisions we all inevitably have to make. Wise counsel comes from a strong mind anchored in God’s word.


A friend with good vision and foresight can help us see things that we cannot. They can see the pitfalls we might be walking into -- like a toxic relationship or a questionable decision at work -- before they happen. A friend with a sharp eye can help us avoid getting blindsided by the Lawrence Taylors of life (Don't know what I'm talking about? Google "Joe Theismann and Lawrence Taylor"). 


They won’t just hear what you’re saying, they will listen. They won’t always try and solve the problem. Sometimes we just need a friend to listen to us. To cry with us. To sit with us. To laugh with us. We don’t need them to say anything. We just need them to listen. Look for friends who are quick to listen and slow to speak.

The most fulfilling friendships are ones where two imperfect people commit to each other sacrificially. They commit to putting God and others before themselves as they look to be the best friends they can possibly be. They build each other up, they sharpen each other and they work together to achieve great things in the life of the other.   

But even more important than looking for good friends is becoming a good friend. When we learn what it means to be a good friend, we will attract and be attracted to people who will be good friends for us in return.

We will never be perfect or have perfect friends -- we will all fail each other in one way or another. I know I’ve made countless mistakes in my own friendships in the past.

Being a good friend means being willing to learn from our shortcomings and mistakes, laying down our own pride and admitting that we were wrong -- to ask for forgiveness and to offer it to others.

Let's work on being great friends as we look for them. 

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