The last few months have redefined epic adventure in my dictionary. From travel hacking Italy with a colleague to a surprise engagement trip in the mountains of North Carolina. I’ve been overwhelmed by God’s blessings and the people He’s placed in my life.
However, there’s a difference between amazing people and iron-sharpening people. I’m grateful mine qualify as both, but as we’re choosing friends to do life with, we should consider some important questions.
Do they point you to Christ?
There are plenty of people who model ingenuity, bravery, kindness, and adventure. From the world’s standpoint, they personify the ideal. These charismatic people attract a crowd, and although they can be generous and inspirational, they’re missing the main thing.
Without a personal relationship with God, a person with everything the world has to offer has nothing of lasting worth.
Do the people in your tribe encourage you to have a closer walk with God? Do they keep you accountable and ask you to do the same for them? Beyond that, do they pray for you and with you (James 5:16)? We need to surround ourselves with Spirit-filled friends who strengthen our faith and won’t let us settle for status quo.
Do they bring out your best?
Have you had a friend who encouraged you to make poor choices for entertainment’s sake or enjoyed jokes at your expense? I hope not! But if someone comes to mind, maybe you should reconsider your close circle.
A true friend is someone who brings out your best. Of course, a sense of humor is always a plus, but is it deprecating or wholesome? Do you find yourself laughing involuntarily or having to plaster on a fake smile?
The Bible makes clear that bad company corrupts good character (I Corinthians 15:33). The flip side is that good company encourages good character. Be with people who build you up, not tear you down.
Do they pull you out of your comfort zone?
I’ll never forget my first mission trip. My best friend, several church friends, and I were in Nicaragua working on a construction project as well as leading Vacation Bible School for the neighborhood children. We were privileged to partner with a local mission organization whose cook blessed us with meals each day.
Although I don’t consider myself a picky eater, I’m not especially fond of black beans. And in Nicaragua, beans were served breakfast, lunch, and dinner. No problem, right? I just added some extra rice and skipped the bean bowl.
Related Post: Circumstances Are Not Construction Zones
One morning, I turned around in the breakfast line to find my best friend scooping a more-than-generous portion of black beans onto my plate.
“Whaaatt are you doing?”
“You need to try this.” She grinned and would have scooped more if I hadn’t rescued my plate.
Yes, I ate them. Beans are still not my favorite, but I ate them (or most of them).
Perhaps that’s a silly example, but I’ve never forgotten it.
Good friends push you to try new things, get out of your comfort zone, and help you see beyond your point of view.
A verse that comes to mind is Hebrews 10:24. Although it has nothing to do with black beans, I love the idea that we should “stir up” each other “to love and good works” (ESV). Stirring takes work and isn’t always comfortable. However, when a friend offers to lend a hand, we’re often motivated to give more than we thought we could.
Who’s in your tribe? Do they build you up and make you better? Most importantly, do they point you to Jesus Christ?