What to Look for in a Good Friend

good friend

God made us to be in relationship with each other. We were made for community and we all want a good friend. But what does a good friend look like? What do they do or not do? In the most intimate of the 13 letters the Apostle Paul wrote that help form the New Testament, Philippians, we see a portrait of what to look for in a friend. Consider these five behaviors that a good friend will consistently live out and ask yourself if you model them as a friend yourself.

In Philippians 1.3-11, Paul gives us this template for what good friends do. A good friend will…

  1. A good friend will remember the best in you (v. 3).

    • When Paul prayed for his friends in the church in the city of Philippi, his thoughts of them brought him great joy. He chose to focus on their good qualities, rather than upon their limitations and weaknesses. He remembered their best.
    • What emotions and thoughts rise up in the minds of others when they think of you…joy, happiness and peace, or fear, worry and anxiety?
  2. A good friend will give their best to you (v. 5, 7).

    • He said that he had them in his heart. He fully gave himself to them by giving them the deepest thing about himself, his heart. He used the word koinonia, which means deep partnership, as he described their strong, intimate relationship. Paul was not a relationship skimmer. Rather he gave himself fully to these special friends.
    • How would others describe you? A relationship skimmer or one who is willing to risk and go deep in friendships?
  3. A good friend will encourage the best in you (v. 6).

    • He was confident that God would finish the work that He had begun in them. He emphasized that truth and sought to bring out their best. Good friends will bring out your best. Liz Wizeman who studied 150 leaders and wrote Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter discovered that there are two kinds of leaders: multipliers and diminishers. Multipliers bring out the best in others by amplifying their strengths, encouraging them and empowering them. Diminishers do the opposite. They drain you by having all the answers, micro-managing and being self focused. Good friends will always seek to be a multiplier in your life.
    • How would others describe you: as a multiplier or a diminisher?
  4. A good friend will pray the best for you (v. 9).

    • Paul fervently prayed for his friends. He prayed that they would love Jesus and others more, would learn more about God, and would live out the truths of God’s Word in their conduct and character. Good friends will pray that those three things will become reality in their friends.
    • When you last prayed for your friends, what did you pray for them about? 
  5. A good friend will expect the best from you (v. 10-11).

    • Good friends will hold you accountable. They will tell you what you may not want to hear because they will expect the best from you. They won’t let you settle for what is just ‘good.’ They will challenge you to do and be your best.
    • What friend in your life holds you accountable? Do you have a friend that knows you will expect the best from him or her?

Good friends are rare. But when God gives them to us, they are worth their weight in gold.

What question above most resonated with you? Is the Holy Spirit prompting you to become a better friend?

This article originally appeared here.

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Charles Stone
Dr. Charles Stone is Lead Pastor at West Park Church in London, Ontario, Canada. He is the author of five books including Holy Noticing: The Bible, Your Brain, and the Mindful Space Between Moments (Moody Press, 2019). His sixth book coming in October by Equip Press, will be Every Pastor's First 180 Days: How to start and stay strong in a new church job.