The first month of the new school year is approaching, and along with the loads of index cards with 1×1 pictures comes the exciting, yet slightly daunting, point of having to make new friends. We all know that friendships, to an extent, can make or break your mood, your day, and even who you are as a person, so building that social circle that you’ll allow to influence you is something worth thinking about!

Before you learn how to make the right friends though, what do good friendships look like? Here are a few examples:

JONATHAN AND DAVID

As Saul’s son, Jonathan was in line for the throne, but because of Saul’s sin, God chose David to rule the kingdom after Saul. Despite his not being able to reign, Jonathan befriended and protected David, even confronting his father because he knew that God’s will must prevail.

True friendships are genuinely, wholeheartedly supportive, because their trust is in the truth that God has something amazing in-store for both of them in His perfect will.

NAOMI AND RUTH

Ruth was Naomi’s daughter-in-law; when both their husbands died, they lost everything. Despite all this, though, they remained faithful to one another in those difficult circumstances.

True friendships are faithful, loyal, and unconditionally loving, not only to each other but to God, as friends trust in the truth that He has always been faithful and will always continue to be.

PAUL AND BARNABAS

After Paul received Jesus as his Lord and Savior, he went back to Jerusalem but was seen as who he was before: a persecutor of Christians. Despite this, Barnabas, the leader of a team of evangelists, accepted him as both a student and a friend, training him to become the amazing evangelist that he became. They later had an argument that separated them from working together, but, even so, they still had respect for each other, knowing that their relationship made the impact that God ultimately willed for it to have.

True friendships won’t always be ones where we completely agree with each other, but acceptance and respect for each other is there because they trust in the truth that God formed that relationship not only for them to be joyous in agreement, but also so they’d be able to learn from one another in the midst of their disagreements.

JESUS AND PETER

Peter confidently said that he’d stand with Jesus until death, but later denied knowing Jesus when He had been arrested—not just once, but three times! Despite this, when Jesus rose from the dead, He forgave Peter and showered him with grace, hope, and compassion, strengthening Peter to boldly proclaim the gospel that saved him.

True friendships always shower forgiveness and love, even when it’s undeserved! After all, God gracefully showered love upon us as well!

There are two common denominators in these examples of true friendship: the first is that all of them have God at the center, and the second one is the preposition ‘despite.’ Despite each other’s mistakes or their individual successes and failures, a true friendship blessed by God is one that will certainly bring growth not only to the friends, but to His Kingdom as well.

Now that we’ve identified what true friendships entail, how do we go about establishing them?

1. BEFORE ANYTHING, ASK FOR GOD’S GUIDANCE.

PRAY. No one knows you, what you need, and what’s best for you more than God does. Before prepping yourself to make or change your social circle, ask that God give you a clear perspective on who to choose and what limits to set.

2. MAKE A LIST OF WHAT YOU WANT IN A FRIENDSHIP.

(Mental lists are okay, but try writing a list you can return to and review at any time.)

First off, what are friendships for? Fun moments? A shoulder to cry on? A helping hand? List down what you believe their purposes are to be, then judge, with God’s guidance, if they are good.

From that list of purposes, write down the values that one must have to fulfill those purposes: genuine, wholehearted support? Faithfulness and loyalty? Acceptance and respect? Unconditional love? Judge once more with His guidance if they are good.

3. EXHIBIT THE CHARACTER THAT YOU WANT TO ATTRACT.

Though the list you just made may be used as a criteria for choosing friends, it’s also a basis for purposes you are to fulfill and values you are to exhibit. On the first day of class — though it’s an overused phrase — be yourself! Christ loves you and has set you free, so now exhibit that overflowing love and uncontainable joy as you enter that classroom!

4. MAKE THE BEST OUT OF YOUR INTRODUCTION.

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self- discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

Let go of the fear of being judged — you are fully known and loved by God! When introducing yourself, emit an aura of enthusiasm. If possible, try practicing your introduction: “Hi! My name is…” with a lively tone. Get a personal motto ready too — you’ll never know!

5. BE SELECTIVE, BUT NOT REJECTIVE.

You can control who you approach, but oftentimes, you can’t control who approaches you. Just because a schoolmate’s values don’t fit into your criteria doesn’t mean you don’t accept them — remember, Barnabas accepted Paul!

Be selective in a sense that you choose wisely who you will allow to influence you: have friends that follow Jesus, because true morals and respect come along with that. But be open to accept friends who don’t quite know Him yet, because He might have called you into that person’s life to bring them to Him!

6. NEVER STOP PRAYING.

We, humans, tend to compromise a lot. Pray continually that He’ll remind you of the limits He set, the values He made you desire, and the purposes He wills for you and your friendships to fulfill