I love being with people. I love talking to people from different age groups and different backgrounds.

I value relationships so much. I value the people I share milestones with. I value those who fight with me during my times of defeat. And I value those who love me enough and are brave enough to correct me and keep me from making mistakes.

These are the people I call friends; people who love me even in my darkest; people who help me learn and grow; friends who inspire me to keep fighting and to stay hopeful in life.

What about you? Who do you consider as your friends? What qualities do you look for in a friend?

We all have friends, and we also have different standards in choosing friends. Some look for friends who share the same hobbies and interests. Others choose friends based on what they can gain from them. Others don’t have as much standards, as long as they find acceptance and belongingness.

This school year, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to build friendships with those in your campus. Choosing friends is crucial. As 1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV) says, “Bad company corrupts good character.” The kind of friends we choose can either build us up or destroy us. They can either lead us closer to God or lead us away from Him. So, choose wisely!

But, aside from choosing the right company, it is equally important to make sure that we provide the right company to our friends as well. Instead of just focusing too much on looking out for great friends, it’s also good to ask ourselves if we are the right kind of friend to those in our circles.

Do your friendships add life and value to you? In the same way, do you inspire your friends and help them grow as a person? At the end of the day, the goal is not just to build friendships but to build life-giving friendships—the kind of friendships that add value and speak life to every person in the group.

How do we build life-giving friendships?

Inspire Growth

One of the best things about friendships is the joy of experiencing life together. This happens through face-to-face conversations, the usual eat out, road trips, and the jokes we share with one another.

You can add another component in your friendship: grow together. Explore new things and learn new things together. Discover new talents, get fit together by signing up to the nearest gym, challenge one another to get rid of bad habits and develop good, healthy ones. Challenge one another to be excellent in your studies. This may not always be the easiest thing to do, but when you have one another, this pursuit could be fun and enjoyable.

You may also inspire one another to develop your individual talents and skills. Support one another, cheer them on, and inspire them to pursue their dreams. Sometimes, this will require speaking the truth to your friends—even truth that will potentially hurt them. But as long as you speak the truth in love, you will be able to encourage your friends to reach their highest potential.

Inspire Hope

Sometimes, life gets so difficult and giving up seems to be the most convenient choice. When challenges and trials get so overwhelming, it is almost impossible to keep fighting. But life if better when you have people around you who will encourage you, pray for you, or simply just be there for you.

They say, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” But for the most part, it’s so much easier to keep going when you have friends to run with you.

In times of trouble, do you help your friends find hope for their situation? Do they find comfort and strength when they run to you for advice or company? When they fall down, do you help them find the energy to stand up and keep going?

Jonathan was the best example of this. When David was lost and overwhelmed with problems, Jonathan came to him in the wilderness and helped him find strength in God (1 Samuel 23:16).

Do you inspire hope among your friends? Do you help them find strength in God in times of trials and testing?

Stay Connected to the Real Source of Life

The only way to overflow with hope and love is to be filled with them. After all, we cannot give what we don’t have.

If we desire to build life-giving friendships, we must be connected to real Source of life—God. When we are connected to the Author of love and friendship, we can learn how to love others despite their imperfections. We can be a channel of strength, encouragement, and hope to them, because we ourselves are constantly experiencing it from God Himself.

Apart from the Source, we will eventually run out of love to give. When we run out of love, we tend to demand love and attention from our friends, which they can’t always give. That’s the reason why most friendships eventually become toxic and fall apart.

Do you want to have long-lasting friendships? Stay connected to God. We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

As we connect to Jesus, He allows us to be a channel of life and energy to our friends. As we walk in friendship with God, we will learn to build life-giving friendships with those around us.

This school year, aspire to be a life-giving friend to those around you!

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