The Power of Positive Friendships

Do you have friends? How long have you been friends for? Are you an asset or a liability to each other? What kind of friends are they? Do you share similar values? If anything bad was to happen to you or your family, could you count on your friends? I’m trying to get you to focus this minute on the kind of friend that you are or the kind of friends that you keep. Maybe for the first time this year, permit yourself to try and zone in with a critical, but honest lens on your friendships.

According to a survey conducted by anapsid.org, “Having friends helps you live longer. In one study, those who had the most friends over a 9-year period cut their risk of death by more than 60%. People with a strong social network are more likely to survive a major illness such as a heart attack or cancer. Human companionship can also help reduce the effects of stress on the body, protect against illness, and help us heal when we do get sick. Sheldon Cohen, PhD, a psychology professor at Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, has also shown that strong social support helps people cope with stress.

But with the advent of Facebook, and other social networking sites, isn’t there a temptation though to gauge our friendships by the number of likes, followers and friend requests that we get? But when I refer to friendship, I am not talking about the casual relationships that we have with colleagues, church members or with that unknown entity with a false name on the other end of your twitter/Facebook page. Friendship is an alliance, relationship, coalition, or companionship. It is the state of being a friend or having a friendly relationship with another person. Whilst we generally view friendship as a good thing, however I have come to realise that it can swing both ways: good or bad. As there can be a good coalition or alliance, there can also be a bad one. Proverbs 18:24 (ESV) states that “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” We therefore have to be mindful of the friends that we keep as the Bible states in 1 Corinthians 15:33 (ESV) “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”

Perhaps you’ve never really seen friendship as a deep thing or your experiences with friends have not been great but please permit me to try and sell the idea of the power of positive friendships to you. I believe that friendship is more than just the off-the-cuff relationships that we have with people. It is forming a deliberate, considered and purposeful alliance with others. God created man as a relational being and that is why our friendships are important and He never meant for us to go through life alone. Jesus calls the believer His friend and the Bible states that in the beginning, God said “Let us make man in our image…” This suggests to me that God operates in a community setting.

With the erosion of traditional family values and good morals in our day, positive friendships are rare to find. Nevertheless I do know of some great friendships and have been blessed with some great friends too; people who have been there for me and my family, people who I’ve felt completely at ease to ring up no matter how late the time was, and people I could vouch were thinking and praying for me. I am going to give you a few reasons why you should pursue and continue to harness the power of positive friendships.

  1. You encourage each other to be better people. Proverbs 27:17 ESV “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another”
  2. You possess synergy which helps you to navigate life’s challenges together Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 ESV “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!
  3. Positive friendships provide a positive and trusted platform for speaking and standing for the truth even when it’s painful to do so. Proverbs 27:6 ESV “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy”.
  4. It allows you to move in the company of like-minded people and people who share your values and aspirations. Amos 3:3 ESV “Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?”
  5. Positive friendships are destiny enablers – They can serve as the bridge that takes you from where you are to where you are destined to be. Ruth 1:16 ESV “But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people and your God my God”.
  6. Positive friendships have the propensity to make kings out of ordinary people – See the story of Jonathan and David. 1 Samuel 18:1 ESV “As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul”.

Its rewarding to have great friends however what is most rewarding is being a good friend to someone else. Since what we sow is what we reap, you will without any doubt reap the rewards. How do you recognise good friends with whom you can form a good alliance or continue to affiliate with? I have stated a few attributes below:

  • They are in the relationship mostly for what they can offer and not for what they can get
  • They don’t flatter you but are honest, trustworthy, caring, and help you to be the best
  • They celebrate and do not compete with you
  • They are not afraid to tell you the truth even if it could cost them your affiliation. They act in your best interest
  • They accept and celebrate your friendship, not reject it
  • They invest their time, prayers, thoughts and energy to do things for you and with you
  • They see your potential
  • They hold you accountable and expect you to also hold them accountable

Good friends, I believe are a gift from God as you cannot force someone to play that role in your life. You are only in control of whether you act as a good friend or not to someone else. Therefore it is important not to demand from people or your friends what only God can make possible. However when you have been gifted with good friendships, it will involve people who wouldn’t mind going the ultimate mile for you. It is not uncommon to have a friend in a brother, parent, sibling or spouse and actually, every person should strive to be good friends with their spouses even if they didn’t start up as one. It will immensely improve their married life. So be open-minded, celebrate and accept the gift that positive friendships bring into your life. It will make your relationships much more enriching. To all our friends (relation and non-relation), thank you for being a great friend and I really appreciate you!