My father used to share with me his wisdom, usually when I was not asking for it. You know, when things went wrong and I was enjoying feeling sorry for myself. Some of his wisdom included:
- “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose; it’s how you play the game.”
- “You can do anything that you set your mind to.”
- “You are who you run with”
This latter one was dealing with my friends when growing up and associates when working in the business world and pursuing the call of God on my life in the church world. I was never sure if he was suggesting that I find some new friends or new associates or not. But what has become clear, through, was the truth of the saying. Whether you’re a kid, a tween, a teenager, a young adult, or middle-aged, you will become like your closest friends. Count on it.
When we connect with another person, we become a conduit of their values, beliefs, and decisions. I’m not basing this just on my dad’s advice or on some clever pop psychology. In the Bible, Solomon wrote, “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm” (Proverbs 13:20). If you stick close to people who are wise, you’ll become wiser. If you hang out with people who are godly, you’re likely going to grow closer to God. If you become close friends with people who make good decisions, chances are you will make good decisions too.
But the opposite is dangerously true as well. If you hang out with the wrong crowd, you’ll likely end up doing stupid and dangerous things along with them. If the people you surround yourself with are passive, unmotivated people, you’ll likely do less, not more. If your best friends constantly ignore God, chances are you’re going to drift from Him as well.
When I reflect on my life, I realize I rarely got into trouble by myself. Almost every time I did something stupid or unwise, I was running around with people who were equally foolish. On the flip side of that coin, I rarely succeeded at anything on my own. When I grew as a Christian leader, it was never in a vacuum. I was always blessed to have others speaking life into me and offering valuable feedback. The same is true spiritually. When I’m closest to God, I’m always simultaneously close to godly people as well.
Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.
Any success I have in life is the direct result of a decision that changed the direction of my life. With God’s help, I connected with the best, God-loving, wise people I could find. And once I started looking, God continued to bring them across my path. Anything good that I’ve done or am doing comes from God using the right people to influence me and make me better. I am who I am today because of the friends and associates I chose in the past.
You are too. The people you know determine the story you tell with your life. And the people you’re hanging out with today are shaping the person you will become tomorrow.