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Do to others as you would like them to do to you. – Luke 6:31

We all want friends. We all need friends. Friendships are an important part of our lives. They help us through hard times and they celebrate with us during good times. Without friends, life would be boring and hard. But what makes a good friend?

As parents it is our job to help our children form good friendships. I love this quote by Dannah Gresh in her book Best Friends and Mean Girls:

“Your children’s friends will either: support the values you are trying to instill or overwhelm your daughter with a different point of view.”

I’m looking for supporting friends, not the overwhelming kind. How about you? So how do we teach our kids how to find good friends? I think it begins with a little self examination. We should begin with asking ourselves: Am I a good friend? After we have pondered that for a bit then we can ask the second most important question: Is my child a good friend? You see, the only person you can control and change is yourself. It is important that we first focus on becoming a good friend before we seek out a friend. If we learn how to be a good friend, we will attract good friends. Then lastly we can ask the question about our friends: Are they a good friend?

We came up with seven character traits of a good friend. We will share 4 of the 7 today, and next week we will share the other 3.

A good friend is…

Faithful to God

You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all our soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39

The only way to really love others well is to love God well. It is only in that union with God that we can be the type of friend that others need. When we are connected with God we have access to all the fruits of the Spirit and the wisdom and knowledge to make wise decisions. 

Ask yourself: Is God an active participant in my life? Do I have a relationship with Him? Do I spend time reading His word, worshiping and praying to God? What am I doing to stay connected to God throughout the day? Am I walking in the fruits of the Spirit in my relationships?

Real

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:8-10

A good friend encourages others to be who they are. They allow each person to be uniquely themself. They don’t force or pressure others to change who they are or what they want to do. A real friend is also not afraid of real emotions.They allow you to be authentic and share what is going on in your life and do not judge you for it. 

Ask yourself: Do I encourage my friends to be themselves or to be like me or the popular trends? Do I allow my friends to reveal their true thoughts and feelings and don’t judge or shame them for those?

Influencer

Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.- Proverbs 13:20

Who is influencing who? We need to raise our children to influence those around them, instead of them being influenced by the world. This only happens when they are confident in their identity in Christ. When we know and believe what God says about ourselves, others’ opinions don’t matter as much. We can confidently walk out our calling when we know that only God’s opinion really matters.

Ask yourself: Who am I wanting to be like? My friends or Jesus? Who do I want to please? What do I do to try to fit into the group? Is that really who I am or am I pretending to be something that I am not? How am I encouraging my friends to live?

Encourager

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

When we spend time with friends we should leave encouraged and built up. Friends are here to do life with. They are here to help us through a hard day and also here to have fun with on the weekend. We need people in our lives who know when we have a big test or appointment coming up. We need friends who will pray for us when we have to have a difficult conversation or when we have to do something outside our comfort zone. Friends should make us feel seen, heard and loved. 

Ask yourself: How do I feel after I have hung out with your friend? How do I feel leading up to hanging out with them? How have I encouraged my friend this week? Do they have anything going on in their life that I need to follow up on?

Looking Inward

Faithful to God, Real, Influencer, and Encourager: these are the four character traits we are going to share today.  Now it is time to apply the information!. As you go through each character trait ask yourself the following questions:

Am I faithful to God?

Is my child faithful to God?

Is my friend faithful to God?

Do this for each of the character traits-filling in the blank with the next trait. Have a conversation with your child to see what they would say about themselves and about their friends.  Good friends make such a difference, so help your child to be a good friend and to choose good friends!  

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. -Proverbs 27:17

Check out the next three traits next week.

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