It’s fair to state that friendships often comprise a good portion of the daily life of teens. We spend a lot of time with them in many different settings and places. Through that time they can frequently influence us either for the better or for the worse. It’s up to us to discern which friends will be true and encourage us in our daily walks with God, and which ones will affect us in negative ways. However, it’s possible that we as teens have lessened the worth of true friends.
A true friend calls us out when we’re in the wrong. It doesn’t mean that they don’t care about us anymore: it means that they do. Are your friends always there for you when you need them, or are they off with others that they consider more important.
“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
Proverbs 18:24 NIV
As important as it is to choose friends wisely, it’s equally as important to be a good friend. And when you ask yourself the questions, “Am I reliable?”, “Am I genuine?”, and “Do I point my friends to Christ or away from Him?”, the honest answers are rather telling. As you look for those friends and strive to be one yourself, remember one thing: don’t devalue the treasure of a true friend.
When you find a true and Godly friend, don’t let go of them in exchange for those that might boost your popularity or up your friend count. Let go of those friends that flatter and sway you from a righteous path, a better path. The following are three things I’ve learned that help prosperous and steadfast friendships and relationships, although it unfortunately doesn’t mean there will never be hurt.
1. Be a good listener
Communication is key in any type of friendship, so chat away! However, it’s important that you do more listening than you do speaking, because how can you ever listen attentively to what the other person has to say if you’re constantly talking? Often, at least for me, it can be hard to concentrate and really listen to what they’re saying, but do it anyway! Make friends and family your second priority right after your relationship with God. God places friends in your life for a reason, so don’t neglect them! Make certain to show a genuine interest in what they mention, and be sensitive to their needs and emotions.
2. Show consideration
It’s so easy to be complacent in friendships, leaving someone on the edge of the room or just brushing past them without a word or even a smile. Friendship is found and established in the little things, like an encouraging grin or an warm invitation to the outsider. Do that, and you’re going to win yourself some friends. This isn’t the sort of recipe that prepares itself overnight, it’s takes time and dedication, but it’s well worth it in the end.
3. Don’t be afraid to get real
Too many teenage friendships hop along, standing on little more than the superficial. And while the weather works great for small talk, something happens when you start to open up abut how things are really going. People are so much more than their social media profiles or demeanor in public. They have struggles, flops, and mistakes too! It can take time to get to this point, but make sure you don’t keep your friendships in the “small talk” range. Teens aren’t expected to, but I believe that it’s time for us to go deeper and be real with each other about our struggles and limitations, encouraging each other in our walk with Christ.
I know just how hard it can be to find lasting friendships that constantly encourage me while I do the same for them. Don’t change who you are to fit into a certain crowd or to impress someone. It can be a challenge to navigate the rollercoaster of friendships, but no matter your friendships or how lonely you might feel, take heart. There’s always a friend out there that will never leave.
And His name is Jesus.