The people your kids spend time with will have a big influence on them. It’s important to teach them what to look for. These are principals I think are essential. Choose your friends wisely. Choose them for the sake of friendship. It seems like such an obvious statement, but my parents used to say it to us all the time. Don’t choose friends because they are popular, or because they are good-looking, or because they are rich or athletic. Choose your friends wisely because you enjoy them and because they are good people.
Remember, friendship runs in two ways. Too often, we evaluate a friendship based on the way it benefits us. But lasting friendships are formed when we can cause those benefits to flow toward someone else. So here is a question for you, what benefits do you bring to your friendships? We seem so quick to categorize others, so quick to determine people’s worth based on what they can do for us, what they drive or wear, or what their occupation is. Choose your friends for the sake of friendship – their friendship to you, and more importantly, your friendship to them. Here are 3 things to teach kids about choosing friends.
1. Choose Friends Who Exhibit Good Character
Choose your friends based on their values, not their status in society. Within our extended family, I had a number of uncles who worked very different jobs. One was a high-ranking member of law enforcement, another was an autoworker, and another was a baker. It never occurred to me that these positions might carry value; to me, each of them was my uncle –they all loved me and looked out for me, and I cared for them all. Their value, for me and others who knew them, was not determined by their job titles but by the men they were twenty-four hours a day, whether working at their jobs, or hanging out at home, or doing something else in their communities.
2. Choose Friends Who Are Dependable
Choose friends who will stand by and guide you when you need it. Friends who put your interests before their own. Number one on my list of those friends is my bride of more years than she might care to remember – Lauren. Hers has been a voice of encouragement, love, character, and godly wisdom for well beyond the years of our marriage. In fact, that is one of the things that attracted me to her. Her voice has always carried messages of importance, pointing me toward what is right and what is in my best interest. Those messages have shaped my character amid the lure and glamour of a world that is constantly trying to make me detour from the path that God has set before me. (Just like you, your wife needs to be careful in choosing her friends as well.)
3. Choose Friends Who Give Wise Counsel
There are other voices of wisdom in my life as well, friends whose counsel I often seek before making the really important decisions of my life. People who see the same direction for my life that I see- God’s direction. I also have friends who will correct and admonish me when it’s necessary. Too many of us listen to the voices of the crowd, even when we know better. Often, we do this simply because there are many voices and they are the loudest: the voices of ambition, power, wealth, revenge, greed, pleasure, self-centeredness, and appeasement. But even while all these voices bombard us, we need to learn to listen to the quiet voices consistently speaking the truth. Those voices come from our wives or our parents or our close friends, those people who have been with us in the valleys and on the mountaintops of our journeys.