Learning how to be a best friend is an important part of life, and being a best friend helps you to attract outstanding quality best friends yourself!
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! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
James Taylor sang it, but we all need to believe it… There is nothing as good as having a friend. We live in the age of social media, yet people have never been so lonely! You can have 500 friends on Facebook, yet be the loneliest guy in the world.
So what is the big deal about friendship, why do we desire it so much and how can we be a Best Friend of somebody else?
How to be a Best Friend…
A recent study by researchers looked the age-old mystery of what makes people happy, and their answer is not what might be expected. Consistently at the top of the charts is not success, good looks, or money. Money doesn’t buy happiness, it just means you can be miserable in comfort!
The clear winner in every culture is relationships- especially close relationships. That’s why we all look for, and should be a Best Friend.
What can be done to build good relationships? To be honest, the answer is “not much.” We cannot do a whole lot to cultivate healthy relationships. Techniques do not work.
Relationships are more about being than doing.
Real relationships evolve out of being a certain kind of person. We must focus on who we are in relationships rather than what we do. We need to target “being” the right person in order to foster the right relationships. So how can we be the best person we can find for each other?
The righteous choose their friends carefully,
but the way of the wicked leads them astray.
Today I want to look at what it is to be a Best Friend, how you can be the best a best friend to those you love, and how to attract the very best friends around your life to help you become everything that God wants you to be.
Here’s some things that you need to be to be the best of best friends…
1. BE SOMEONE WHO LISTENS
At the heart of every good relationship is the ability to listen and understand what another person is saying. Without accurate listening, a good relationship can never be built.
Job’s so called friends lacked a little in this department. Job’s life was in tatters, so they came and sat with him, and let him talk… Full marks for that so far… They let him talk, but doesn’t mean they listened, right?
Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him.
But they didn’t listen!
As for you, you whitewash with lies;
worthless physicians are you all.
Oh that you would keep silent,
and it would be your wisdom!
Hear now my argument
and listen to the pleadings of my lips.
People who have good relationships take the time to hear what the other person is saying. They don’t have a habit of interrupting or jumping to conclusions. They listen to the feelings the person is expressing, and they know how to respond appropriately. They not only hear, they listen and try to understand the other party.
We need to practice reflective listening. Like a mirror reflects an image, we can reflect the person’s message by saying something like, “What I hear you saying is . . . ” This kind of a reflection lets the person know we are really interested in accurately understanding them and their issues.
Like many husbands, I am good at hearing without listening, especially when the football is on. It drives Fiona nuts!
It also does wonders for building good relationships. Listening is not arguing every point, or expressing your views on everything, it is listening, understanding and letting your friend know that they are getting a hearing.
The best best friend is someone who listens. Be a Best Friend who listens.
2. BE SOMEONE WHO IS SAFE
In a sticky situation David found himself the object of King Saul’s wrath, but David had a close friend in Saul’s son, Jonathon…
1 Samuel 18:1
After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself.
A close relationship is built on feelings of security. If people do not feel safe, there is no hope of them ever opening up and being authentic. People who keep their word create a sense of security for people in a relationship. They follow through on the promises they make. If we promise to keep a secret, we must keep it. We must keep our word. Once we have earned a person’s trust, our relationship will flourish.
The best best friend is always safe. If you want to be a Best Friend, make sure you are always safe and discrete.
3. BE SOMEONE WHO IS HONEST
Most people look for friends that agree with them… even if they are wrong! If their friend never challenges them, they feel comfortable around them, and that is what many people look for.
Listen, being a good friend is not empowering someone to ruin their life! Many friends are like this… They just support you even if you are destroying yourself. Drugs friends, friends who encourage you to sleep around, drinking buddies… So many choose their friends based on them agreeing with their lifestyle.
I’ve had friends move away from me because I do not agree it’s their lifestyle. Friends don’t have to see eye to eye, but they can walk hand in hand!
Or they can say, “Here, I’m your best friend, let me help you ruin your life!”
Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
but an enemy multiplies kisses.
This is where the value of a mentor is found. Every Timothy needs a Paul and every Paul needs a mentor too.
A mentor is someone who speaks into your life, whether it’s good or bad! If you want to be a Best Friend to someone, you may need to be brave enough to speak out!
In my position as a pastor, I urn to people I can trust… Dr Bill Newman, Ps Marie Cartledge, Ps Rod Jobe, and many others.
My friend does me a favour when he finds me in error or shows me a fault that my blind spot doesn’t allow me to see. That’s the value of a close friend. He or she loves you enough to tell you the truth. Fiona does this well for me.
I would rather have the wounds of a friend because they cut in order to heal, but “the kisses of an enemy” only flatter me and may inflate my ego increasing my pride and stunting my spiritual growth.
Be a Best Friend who is honest, even if the truth hurts a bit.
4. BE SOMEONE WHO LENDS A HAND
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
In rewarding relationships, people not only have feelings of security, they also help each other out. Sometimes that help may be seen in tangible ways – a lift to church, for example.
And sometimes it may be through giving reassurance before you take a big exam or have that critical interview.
The point is that we should help them because we want to, not because we have to. As the saying goes, “That’s what friends are for.”
Once there were two men who were trapped in a cabin on a mountain during a blizzard. The drifts were so high that there was no way that they could go for help. Obviously, this was before cell phones so there was nothing much they could do but try and wait it out and hope that help would come. As the days passed and the snow continued to fall, the two men because desperate as they scrounged for anything that they could find to eat. The cabin that they had borrowed didn’t have much of anything to eat. After about the tenth day, it appeared that they weren’t going to make it because they were running out of food.
That was when one of the men said that he was going to go out and try to find help. He went into the upper portion of the split-level cabin, found some snow shoes, and went through the upper window of the cabin. He never came back. After a few days, his friend went up into the attic to try and look out the window to see if he could see his friend. There he found a note that said, “I know that there wasn’t enough food for the both of us to live much longer and I couldn’t bear to see us both die of starvation so I thought that you should be the one to survive. I love you my brother.”
True love, true friendship involves a valid expression of your love. In other words, you can be a Best Friend who demonstrates your love, lives it out and is practical in your friendship.
My uncle Eric use to walk to church every Sunday, and wave to a guy who was always sitting on the front porch. He wondered how he could reach out to him, and they exchanged greetings every Sunday. This went on for several years.
Then one day, Eric noticed the man shovelling in a hole. He asked what had happened, and was told that the grease trap was broken. Have you ever smelled a grease trap. Possibly the must pungent smell ever.
Eric said nothing, but turned and went home. He got changed out of his Sunday best and into overalls, went back and joined the man digging in the sewer.
Next week the man went to church. A few weeks later he came to Christ!
The best best friend is always there for you lending a hand when it’s needed.
5. BE SOMEONE WHO IS EMPATHETIC
To build good relationships, people have to stop seeing only their point of view and learn to see the world from another person’s perspective.
Selfishness does not foster good relationships. To be a best friend, you need to start seeing things not from your point of view, but from the viewpoint of your friend.
The fancy word for this is “empathy”. Once we put ourselves in other people’s shoes, we begin to understand why they might react, feel, and think the way they do. Of course, empathy does not come naturally; it takes work. It takes a decision to see life as another person sees it.
Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care. Theodore Roosevelt.
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
“Before you criticise a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you do criticise him,my you’ll be a mile away and wearing his shoes.” Steve Martin
A best best friend bears another’s burdens. He doesn’t just criticise, he empathises.
6. BE SOMEONE WHO CAN RECEIVE
This is a hard one for me, and many of you. I find it easy to be generous to others, but not so easy to receive in my hour of need.
If a relationship is all running one direction, you’ll soon tire of it. When the scales of a relationship are unbalanced-when one is always receiving and one is always giving-both people will eventually feel cheated.
In healthy relationships, people meet each other’s needs. There is a give and take that keeps both sides in balance.
We must learn to allow people to care for us as much as we care for them. We must not fall into the trap of thinking that in order to be a good friend we have to do all the giving.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
A best best friend knows how to give and receive in a relationship.
7. BE SOMEONE WHO WEATHERS TURBULENCE
Fair weather friends are worth very little, because a true friend stands by you in your darkest hour… Even if you are the cause of it!
A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for adversity.
A true friend even sticks by you if there is conflict between them and you. Every relationship experiences conflict at some point, and when this happens you might feel like taking your bat and ball and going home. You need to be a Best Friend who weathers the storms.
You need to recognise that every good relationship eventually encounters a rough spot, a time when one or both people feel like giving up. It happens in marriages, it happens in friendships.
It is a scary phase in relationships, but be encouraged because it usually indicates that both parties are going beneath the surface to talk about their true feelings, their likes and dislikes, the good and the bad. Opening up may bring turbulence, but ultimately your friendship will be stronger for it, if you let it.
Bill Newman describes marriage as two rivers flowing together… Initially there is a time of turbulence, but soon they combine to be more powerful than before. The same can be said of true friendship.
But if we are mature enough, and if we persevere, the time of relational turbulence can lead to a deeper, more genuine, and more authentic relationship than before.
Conflict is often the temporary price we pay for deepening intimacy in relationships.
A best best friend weathers the turbulence of the relationship.
8. BE SOMEONE WHO BRINGS THE BEST OUT IN ANOTHER
Henry Ford said, “My best friend is the one who brings the best out in me.”
This is so true about a truly best friend. They encourage, invest in and spur on you and your growth. If you are a friend who brings people down rather than builds them up, you are no friend at all! Be a Best Friend who brings out the best in tour friends!
Iron sharpens iron,
and one man sharpens another.
I have discovered this verse to be true time and time again. I always choose to hang out with those who challenge and inspire me, rather than those who deflate and depress me. And that is the friend that I want to be too!
So the best best friends are those that inspire, challenge and bring the best out in others. They cause you to lift your eyes to the hills, to strive for excellence and encourage you in your walk with God. If you want to be a great friend, inspire others.
9. BE SOMEONE WHO KNOWS WHEN TO CALL IT QUITS
Ouch, this one is going to hurt!
Sometimes you need to be big enough and brave enough to walk away.
Frankly, there are some people you do not need to be friends with. I’m not saying get nasty, throw things or spread gossip about them, but some people are so toxic, so destructive and drain you so much that you have to be brave enough to walk away!
1 Corinthians 15:33
Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
Some friendships are toxic. If you are close friends with someone who drags you down, especially spiritually, if they are the reason why you fall back into sin, then you need to distance yourself from them.
There are some relationships that are not worth the work. Of course, every relationship needs nurturing, but some relationships, no matter how hard people try to make them work, are doomed to disaster.
Maybe the other party is a taker, and all you do is give. Maybe they tempt you back into your old, sinful ways. Maybe they mock and attack your faith.
2 Corinthians 6:14
The Temple of the Living God
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?
If we are in a relationship that leads us to do things that we do not want to do, the relationship is not healthy and may need to be stopped.
If we are in a relationship where we are constantly trying to win the person’s approval or never feel accepted, the relationship is probably not a good one. When that is the case, we need to call it quits before the other person’s rejection damages us and limits our usefulness to God.
10. BE A BEST FRIEND WHO REFLECTS CHRIST
Relationships are complex and require certain fundamental elements plus, of course, time. In building relationships, it is more profitable to examine ourselves to determine the type of person we are, rather than focusing on chasing down the friends we want.
As a believer, we are called to reflect Christ. In fact, we are called to be like Him. If you want to truly be the best friend you can possibly be, and thereby attract the best friends ever, then reflecting Christ in all you do and say is the best way to do it!
2 Corinthians 3:18
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Are you being transformed daily into the image of Christ? Are you living for yourself or are you a living, breathing reflection of Jesus. Do you act to gratify yourself, or do you want to serve the Lord and those around you? Do you have toxic friends you need to distance yourself from?
Be a Best Friend who reflects Christ!