Discernment is an integral part of life. You have likely gone through numerous phases in life where you had to determine which option out of several best fit your needs and goals. Maybe you discerned which career path to take or who to marry. Perhaps you prayerfully considered where to live, work and raise a family. Choosing friendships, of course, is also something we all do, often from a very young age.
The purpose of friendship
We all need someone with whom we feel we really click. We like to have a friend in our lives that we trust, as well as whose company we enjoy. And who doesn’t need some accountability? Good friends hold each other accountable. As a Christian, a main purpose in all that I do is to bring glory to God. All Christians should have this in mind when choosing friendships.
Not all friendships are good
Sometimes a friendship is cultivated but at other times, it sort of just happens. God often brings people into our paths for a reason, which may have something to do with our own soul and well-being or the other person’s, or both. To the contrary, however, if you’re choosing friendships without considering God’s glory, it can wreak havoc in your life. Such havoc might present symptoms, such as stress, depression, anxiety or even marital problems.
How to know if you’re choosing friendships that are good for you
The following list includes a small checklist that can help you discern whether or not you’re choosing friendships that are blessings in your life:
- When you interact with your friend, do you feel uplifted?
- What about your spouse? Does he or she like your friend?
- Does your friend share your convictions and beliefs or if not, is he or she respectful of them?
- A friend should encourage you in your marriage.
- If your friend spends too much time speaking negatively about his or her spouse, or yours, it’s a bad sign.
- Are you tempted to gossip when you’re with this person?
- Do you feel that your relationship brings you closer to God?
- Does your relationship help you be the best version of yourself you can be?
Choosing friendships with these things in mind can help us enrich our lives, as well as avoid harmful experiences. Unhealthy relationships have a way of sneaking up on us, which can often have a negative, ripple effect in many aspects of our lives. Good friendships, on the other hand, bring delight and blessing.
Are you choosing friendships you’d want your kids to have?
Kids are perceptive and they take their cues from their parents. If we’re going to hold our kids to a certain standard, we must first be what expect them to be. How can we criticize our children for “choosing the wrong crowd” if we ourselves hang on to relationships that send mixed messages to our kids? If your kids witness you choosing friendships that are good, they’re more likely to do the same.
Staying friends for the wrong reasons
Sometimes friendships expire, meaning they have reached their potential and have become more of a habit than a thriving relationship. Are you holding onto a friendship because of its longevity or because you don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings?
If you have a friendship your spouse disapproves of, it might be time to sever the ties. If you’re choosing friendships that lead you astray in your faith life, moral standing or family life, it’s time to consider the stakes as well. Don’t let the enemy use friendship as a tool against you. Choose with caution and reap the benefits.