How Can I Make Good Friends?
“If I’m angry, I need someone to vent to. If I’m sad, I want someone to tell me it’s going to get better. If I’m happy, I want to share that with someone. To me, friends are a necessity.”—Brittany.
IT’S been said that little children need playmates, whereas adolescents need friends. What’s the difference?
A playmate is someone who keeps you company.
A friend is someone who also shares your values.
Furthermore, the Bible states that “a true companion is loving all the time, and is a brother that is born for when there is distress.” (Proverbs 17:17) That’s probably describing a deeper kind of friendship than you found as a child at the playground!
Fact: As you progress toward adulthood, you need friends who
1. Have admirable qualities
2. Live by praiseworthy standards
3. Have a positive influence on you
Question: How can you find friends who fit that profile? Let’s examine one factor at a time.
Friendship Factor #1—Admirable Qualities
What you should know. Not everyone who claims to be a friend has what it takes to live up to the label. The Bible even says that “there exist companions disposed to break one another to pieces.” (Proverbs 18:24) That might sound extreme. But consider: Have you ever had a “friend” who took advantage of you? What about one who talked behind your back or spread false rumors about you? Such an experience can shatter your trust.* Always remember that when it comes to friends, quality is more important than quantity!
What you can do. Choose as friends those who have qualities that are worthy of imitation.
“Everyone has such a positive view of my friend Fiona. I want to be spoken of in a good way too. I want the same reputation she has. To me, that’s admirable.”—Yvette, 17.
Try this exercise.
1. Read Galatians 5:22, 23.
2. Ask yourself, ‘Do my friends reflect qualities that are included in “the fruitage of the spirit”?’
3. List below the names of your closest friends. Next to each name, write the trait that best describes the person.
Hint: If only negative traits come to mind, it might be time to look for better friends!
Friendship Factor #2—Praiseworthy Standards
What you should know. The more desperate you are for friends, the more likely you will be to settle for the wrong kind. The Bible says: “He that is having dealings with the stupid ones will fare badly.” (Proverbs 13:20) The term “stupid ones” does not refer to people who get bad grades or even who lack intelligence. Rather, it describes those who turn their back on sound reasoning and instead follow a morally insensible course. That’s the kind of friends you can do without!
What you can do. Instead of making friends with just anyone, be discriminating. (Psalm 26:4) No, that’s not to say you should be prejudiced. In this context, being discriminating means that you’re perceptive enough to “see the distinction between a righteous one and a wicked one, between one serving God and one who has not served him.”—Malachi 3:18.
“I’m thankful that my parents helped me to find friends—people my age who are doing well spiritually.”—Christopher, 13.
Answer the following questions:
When with my friends, am I nervous that they might try to pressure me into doing something I know is wrong?
Am I reluctant to introduce my friends to my parents, fearing that my parents might not approve of them?
Hint: If you answered yes to the above questions, look for friends who have higher standards—those who set a good example in Christian living.
Friendship Factor #3—Positive Influence
What you should know. The Bible states: “Bad companions ruin good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33, Today’s English Version) A youth named Lauren says: “My schoolmates accepted me as long as I did just what they told me to do. I was lonely, so I decided to act like them just so I’d fit in.” Lauren found out that when you conform to others’ standards, you are like a pawn on a chessboard, being moved around at their whim. You deserve better than that!
What you can do. Cut off ties with those who insist that you change to conform to their lifestyle. If you take this step, you may have fewer friends; but you’ll feel better about yourself, and you’ll open the door to better friendships—the kind that will influence you in a positive way.—Romans 12:2.
“My close friend Clint is levelheaded and empathetic, and as a result, he’s been the greatest encouragement to me.”—Jason, 21.
Ask yourself the following questions:
Do I change the way I dress, speak, or act in a bad way just to please my friends?
Do I find myself going to morally questionable places that I would not frequent if it were not for my friends?
Hint: If you answered yes to the preceding questions, go to your parents or to another mature adult for advice. If you’re one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, you could also approach a Christian elder and let him know that you’d like assistance in choosing friends who will have a better influence on you.
READ MORE ABOUT THIS TOPIC IN VOLUME 2, CHAPTER 9
Is a so-called friend—or perhaps your heart—pressuring you to do bad things? Find out how you can resist!
“There exists a friend sticking closer than a brother.”—Proverbs 18:24.
Live by upright standards, and others who are striving to do the same will be more likely to find you. They will make the best kind of friends!
DID YOU KNOW . . . ?
God is not partial, but he is very selective when it comes to whom he will accept as ‘a guest in his tent.’—Psalm 15:1-5.
To find good friends, I will ․․․․․
Some who are older than I am with whom I would like to become better acquainted include ․․․․․
What I would like to ask my parent(s) about this subject is ․․․․․
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
● What qualities would you most value in a friend, and why?
● What qualities do you need to work on to be a better friend?
[Blurb on page 60]
“When my parents steered me away from a certain group of friends, I told myself that these were the only ones I wanted to associate with. My parents’ advice was good, though, and once I took off my blinders, I realized that there were plenty of better friends available.”—Cole
[Box on page 61]
Try These Suggestions
Talk to your parents about friendships. Ask them about the kind of friends they had when they were your age. Do they have regrets about their choice of companions? If so, why? Ask them how you can avoid some of the problems they encountered.
Introduce your friends to your parents. If you’re hesitant to do so, ask yourself, ‘Why is this the case?’ Is there something about your friends that you know your parents won’t approve of? If so, you may need to be more selective when it comes to choosing your friends.
Be a good listener. Show interest in your friends’ welfare and concerns.—Philippians 2:4.
Be forgiving. Don’t expect perfection. “We all stumble many times.”—James 3:2.
Give your friend some space. There’s no need to be clingy. Genuine friends will be there when you need them.—Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10.
[Picture on page 63]
When you conform to others’ standards just to fit in, you are like a pawn on a chessboard, being moved around at their whim