Find Your “Happy Few” – Beyond Comfortable to Stretching
Key Bible Verse: As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend. – Proverbs 27:17
Bonus Reading: Prov. 27:6, 9
There’s a certain “niceness” to friendships where I can be, as they say, myself. But what I really need is relationships in which I’m encouraged to become better than myself, developing to be more Christlike each day.
Stanley Jones, an American missionary to India, wrote of penning a response to a letter from a harsh critic. Irritated by the letter, Jones gave vent to his feelings of hurt and defensiveness. But before he mailed his response, he offered his friends a chance to read it and to offer judgment. When the unsent letter was returned to him, he saw that one of his “happy few” had written across the top “not sufficiently redemptive.” Wise man that Jones was, he destroyed the letter. His friends had held him to a higher standard.
Among my “happy few” are a couple of thinkers who are unafraid to poke and prod into my mind with different viewpoints than I have. They challenge my politics, my theology, and my self-confidence about life-direction. They won’t let me slide by with intellectual superficiality.
Looking back across the years, I’ve asked myself, Who were the people I’ve appreciated the most? Almost every one of them is someone who was tough with me, who expected me to rise higher in character and conduct than I might have by myself.
—Gordon MacDonald in A Resilient Life
My Response: Have I given a friend permission to hold me to a higher standard?
Thought to Apply: To speak painful truth through loving words is friendship. —Henry Ward Beecher (minister)
Adapted from A Resilient Life (Nelson, 2005)