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    Are Your Friends Keepers?

    A best-selling book called The 4-Hour Workweek (fourhourworkweek.com) references a powerful quote from motivational speaker Jim Rohn: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” How are your friends influencing YOU?

    This can be a sensitive subject. But if you want to live a life that is free, joyful and prosperous, making an evaluation of the people in your world is crucial. Friends sometimes hold each other back, though not always consciously and clear to the eye, and this could be affecting you in ways you haven’t realized.

    The 4-Hour Workweek talks about cutting the fat in your life. Life fat includes anything that is preventing you from having the healthiest pulse and blood flow. These are all the unnecessary things we allow or sometimes even welcome that make us feel stressed. Just because you have a lot of meetings to go to or people to hang out with doesn’t mean it’s where you really want to be. And do those people really care if you get there?

    God designed us to be relational beings just like Him. Therefore, we were made to be connected to other people in order to be our best. Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors, there is safety.” The Bible also offers balance and says, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Proverbs 13:20) If you want to actually see your dreams come to life, then enjoy the journey getting there with true friends who will be there on the good days and the bad.

    Here are three ways to decide if your friends are keepers:

    1. Are they positive or time-consuming friends?
    The best way to determine the quality of your friendships is to pinpoint the way they make you feel. Sometimes, you may not be able to put a finger on exactly why they make you feel a certain way. We’ve probably all experienced or have even been that girl who makes a cutting comment, but quickly masks it with a smile or a lighthearted laugh at the end of the sentence. It can leave us feeling confused or unvalidated when our feelings are hurt.

    So next time you’re with a friend or your regular group of friends, assess how you feel when you leave. Do you feel uplifted and positive? Or do you leave feeling angry, hurt and second-guessing yourself? “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear…. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:29-32)

    2. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. (Luke 6:31)
    In a friendship, it’s important to regularly ask yourself if you would have your friends treat you in the same way that you treat them. There will always be conflict when any two people come together in any sort of relationship, because we all respond and react differently to various situations based on our experiences and value systems.

    So, as the leader that you are, before you get offended, ask yourself if you could be in the wrong. Address your feelings with your friend, and if she lashes out at you or gets defensive, your perceptions have been confirmed. There’s a problem when you’re the only one honoring the friendship and there’s a constant pattern of your friend leaving you out, bailing on commitments or tearing you down. It may be time to make new friends.

    3. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:10)
    It wasn’t until last year that I truly learned the concept of honor. When I did, I totally went honor-happy. My eyes were opened to appreciate the things my family and friends do for me, and I became keenly aware of making them feel honored for that—from the detailed way I asked my friends to be my bridesmaids to the meaningful gifts and presentations for them at the rehearsal luncheon to buying someone’s lunch when they drove further to meet up.

    Honor isn’t just about gifts—it’s being thoughtful about how your actions could affect your friend. Honor is following through with commitments, staying true to your word and acknowledging when your friend has helped or connected you in your social, professional or romance life.

    The verse says to OUTDO each other in honor. This implies we should always seek ways to make each other feel decent and appreciated. First, hold yourself accountable as a leader and ask yourself if you’re doing these things. If you see that you’re in a unbalanced friendship where you’re always giving and the other is always taking, then it may be time to make new friends.

    The Bible says to forgive one another as He forgives us, which means we have to forgive when we don’t want to. (Forgiveness is ultimately for our own joy and freedom, anyway.) But this does NOT mean that we should enable hurtful treatment from a person and continue to allow it. Sometimes we must forgive from a distance because, as 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals.”

    PI Girls, what do you think? Are your friends keepers?

    Kristen Dalton
    Kristen Dalton was crowned Miss USA in 2009. Today, she is an actress, motivational speaker and founder of the website She Is MORE.

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