As a young girl or boy, we all got this advice when we were going to boarding school or university. “Look for the smartest girl in your class and make her your friend”, along with this advice we also got a lot of people telling us what to look for in a friend but I’ve hardly heard anyone talk about what to be as a friend. So we all keep searching for someone that is kind, loyal, caring, compassionate and the whole bunch when we remain a basic human being. Why should someone who has so many wonderful qualities be friends with a basic person? So when our basicness attracts other basic people and they mess up we begin to make noise about bad friends and what not. Let’s take a minute to reflect, Are you a good friend?
We all have friends for different seasons and phases in life. We all start off in the same place but eventually some get married, some have kids, some relocate and this begins to signal an end to the friendship. The good thing is the natural end of a friendship is okay. We have to understand that God blesses us with the people we need in our lives per time in order to accomplish his will. You are not friends with nobody randomly or by chance, you are friends because God orchestrated your paths to cross.
There is a purpose for friendship; Proverbs tells us, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17) God has given you people around you to help you get through the darkest times. And God has put you in other people’s lives to get them through their darkest times as well.
Using the scriptures, here are some tips to help you become a better friend aka #squadgoals:
Be an intentional cheerleader: Personally, I don't get to talk to all my friends every day but a goal I set for 2019 is to be their cheerleader. If they post something on social media, I make sure I comment below and make them feel my support. The truth is we are all going through something and a single random message of encouragement and appreciation can make someone's day. Some are struggling with their faith in God and a simple text that reads "Don't forget to smile, Jesus loves you" is all they need that day.
1 Thessalonians 5:11-12 (TLB) So encourage each other to build each other up, just as you are already doing.
Action point: Brag about your friends behind their back.
Don't LOL all the time: It's fun and sweet to throw jabs and banter all day with your friends. But why are you talking about fashion when you know your friend is in an abusive relationship? Why are you talking about sports when your friend is failing their classes? Why are you talking about movies when your friend does not know where their next meal will come from? Don't be afraid to have tough conversations! Find a way to ask questions that will make them open up to you. Friendships expire often times due to unresolved offenses. Find a way to talk things through and not sweep it under the rug.
How you respond to a person’s honesty the first time will determine if they’re ever honest with you again a second time. Be the friend who is willing to give and receive tough and honest conversations about things that really matter.
Proverbs 27:5-6 (NKJV) Open rebuke is better Than love carefully concealed. 6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
Action point: Make a survey of what you spend time conversing with your friends.
Give more than you receive: Let's reflect on all our friendships especially the ones that expired. Why didn't those friendships last? Did you answer start with "They did..." or "they didn't..."? Why are your reasons focused on what they did or did not do for YOU? Does it have to be all about you? We need a mind shift about what friendship expectations should be and Romans 12:10 (ESV) is the perfect inspiration.
Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
In all you do as it relates to every friendship or relationship, let this verse be your guide. Ask God to teach you how to outdo your friends in showing honor. You already know that you can't control how anybody treats you but you have the power to inspire them through your actions. Change your mind from "what do I gain from this friendship to what can I give to this friendship". You have to take joy in giving more into every friendship you have.
Action point: Pray that God helps you give more
Be a faith friend: Are you that friend that people call when they have a new great idea because they know you will support them and believe in them? Here is the flip side, do they call you when they have a bad dream or get bad news? We have to train ourselves to respond to our friend's situation by the word of God no matter how bad the situation looks. Even though it looks like and feels like there is no hope, use the word of God to analyze the situation. Be that friend that people run to when they need faith to push through and theirs is weak.
2 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJV)For we walk by faith, not by sight
Action point: Practice positivity in all you do
Be diverse with your love: Before we came to know the person of Jesus, it was natural to hate our enemy. Often times, our enemies include the people that don't look like us, talk like us, think like us and many more. But with Jesus, he encourages us to even show love to our sworn enemies. Asides from love, he wants us to pray for them. Is there someone that you don’t like or get? Take time to ask them questions and listen to their perspective. No matter how wrong you think they are. The aim is not to win an argument, the aim is to expand your love. Your squad should include people who give you a perspective you wouldn’t see if it was a squad full of people who see the world just like you do.
Matthew 5:43-48 (NIV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
Action point: Reach out to someone that you never thought you can be friends with.
Forgive fast even before you are hurt: Unforgiveness is a big deal in our world today. We all have betrayal stories where people we trusted broke our trust. But here is the truth; the longer you hold on to that pain, the more you hold yourself back from where God intends to take you. There is nothing you can do to change what someone did in your past, but that doesn't mean it has to keep you from having great relationships today. Forgiveness keeps your past in your past. Forgive the ones who have hurt you. Holding onto bitterness from a previous hurt will keep all your close friendships in the shallow end. You have to let it go.
Additionally, don’t wait till someone hurts you to decide if you will forgive them or not. Let your disposition be “I am a forgiving person always.” This is because long before you make mistakes next year or next decade, God has already decided how He’s going to respond to your sin. Learn to extend the same grace God has already extended to you in advance. Using the system God uses with us in your friendship makes it flourish.
Colossians 3:13 (NIV) Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Action point: Let go of all the hurt, you don't need it anymore
Be available for accountability: People often find themselves stuck in the same place because they are not accountable to anybody. Be available to your friends when they need someone to help them with their daily or faith struggles. If your friend opens up to you about their struggle it is not your job to remind them of their shortcoming (Don’t join Satan in the ministry of condemnation). Them opening up shows they feel horrible about their action already. As James said in James 5:16, it is the job of the listener to pray for the confessor.
James 5:16 (NIV) Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
Accountability is for growth and the Holy Spirit is in charge of transformation. When someone opens up, pray for them and encourage them. Let them know that they are not without help to be better.
Action point: Reach out to your friends and let them know you are interested in their faith journey
Thank you so much for reading until the very end. I feel inspired to talk about accountability next week. Let's see how it goes I really pray and hope that we learn something from the scripture inspired tips above. My prayer is that our traits will inspire our friends to become better friends as well.
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” - Dale Carnegie