by Jason Benedict
The Bible teaches us how to love one another! 1Cor 13 is the best description of friendship I have ever seen. I believe our culture has a deep longing for real relationships.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1Cor 13:4-7 NIV
Furthermore, a secret of success in life and business is the ability to build lasting authentic friendships. If you are an introvert this will take extra effort, but it’s worth it. I believe the correlation between friendship and success is geometric. However, there is a limit to how many true friends you can really have.
Most people can only have a handful of really close, bear your soul friends, we have another larger circle of people I will call dinner party friends and another larger circle that we are friendly with (first name basis friends). I’m not suggesting that you categorize people – please don’t!
What i’m saying is that you can only invest in so many relationships so be prayerful, intentional and strategic! We certainly see this modeled in the life of Jesus. He had the 3, the twelve, the 70, the 120 and the crowd. Modern research into relationships seems to indicate that you can only have so many stable relationships (see Dunbar’s Number).
Your Inner Circle
Your closest circle will have the biggest impact on your destiny. These are those we fellowship with, those who know us well. These relationships feed your soul. For the believer these friends need to share your faith and values. It’s been said, you are the average of your 5 closest friends. Paul wrote, “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 NIV
The scriptures warn us about trying to have too many inner circle friends. A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Prov 18:24 ESV. I believe this is true because in this level of friendship you have a tacit agreement to walk together in life.
I have found that the Holy Spirit will show you which relationships you should invest more time and energy into. One way I have recognized this is that when I am supposed to invest in a friendship I feel a flow. What I mean by a flow is just a sense from the Lord that confirms to my my spirit that this person is supposed to be in my life. I like the acronym REAL to describe the kinds of relationships you need more of:
- Righteous – based on godly motives
- Enduring – with the long haul in view
- Authentic – without false pretense
- Loving – 1 cor 13
Sowing Goodwill and Collecting Fruit of Friendship
Your other circles of friends will also have a big impact on your life, so make it a point to win friends. One way to think of these friendships is more in terms of influence and goodwill. Whereas you are walking through life with your inner circle, you are with these other circles less often or maybe only once or twice.
When you encounter these people you make a point to be good to them, to influence them for the Lord, to bless them and enrich their lives through the encounter. You are like someone who is walking along through life and sowing seeds of goodwill. Proverbs puts it this way, The seeds of good deeds become a tree of life; a wise person wins friends. Prov 11:30 NLT. You many not see that person again for a year, but when you do that seed will have grown you will be able to collect the fruit of friendships. I don’t believe you can have too many of these kinds of friends.
However, There is a worldly counterfeit for real friendships that uses people as a means to an end. This is short sighted and and self-serving and will yield bad fruit in your life. Much that goes in the name of networking falls under this category. I want to be careful to note that not all networking is of this negative sort, so I’m not trying to taint the word. I’m just saying the word has been tainted by selfish practice. Be better than that! Imagine if you made it a personal policy to try and gain one new friend a week, by planting the seeds of goodwill.