President’s Post: What Should I Look For in a Friend?

Friendship is one of the most valuable aspects of life, one that students can nurture throughout their college years. They make special memories with their friends, navigate difficult times together and learn alongside one another. They offer spiritual encouragement and become each others’ shoulders to lean on.

Making time to develop friendships and investing in your neighbors are very important. But who your friends are and what you choose to do with that time will make a huge difference in your spiritual maturity, academic success and your future. 

There’s an old proverb that says, “Show me your friends; I’ll show you your future.” The Apostle Paul used a similar saying as a warning: “Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33).  Friendship is supremely important to the Lord.

Some of you might ask, “What should I look for in a friend?”

First, find friends who are Christlike. People who are Christlike have spiritual traits about them that are often compelling. They have a standard of personal holiness and encourage others to do the same. They are also humble and put others before themselves. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:33). That is Christlike love.

Second, find friends who avoid gossip. Gossip is often revealing of personal character and an attitude that is blind to the value and dignity of others. Gossip betrays confidence and trust. It makes victims of others who cannot defend themselves and slanders their reputation. Find friends with integrity who put a stop to gossip. Proverbs 16:28 says, “A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.” 

Third, find friends who are loyal. Proverbs 18:24 states that “A man of many companions can come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Without loyalty, there can be no real trust between friends. Find friends who will be there for you despite the cost to them. Good friends are reliable, but it takes investment and time to build this trust. 

Finally, find friends who provide spiritual encouragement and accountability. We should detest mediocrity and false flattery.  Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” Find friends who are courageous enough to love you and tell you the truth. The one who comes to you privately to hold you accountable, confront you, encourage you and restore you is a true friend. Find a friend who loves you enough to care more about your relationship with the Lord than hurt feelings. 

My dear friend Dr. Jerry Falwell Sr. knew the importance of Christlike friendships. I’m reminded of the many friendships that he fostered and developed through many wonderful years, while serving in ministry and building Liberty University. Many of these friends were trailblazers that embodied Dr. Falwell’s vision and walked with him through it all. 

I think of Dr. Elmer Towns, Liberty’s co-founder; Dr. Ed Hindson, longtime theology professor and Dean Emeritus of the School of Divinity; Dr. A. Pierre Guillermin, the late President Emeritus; and many, many more. 

I am blessed to be among Dr. Falwell’s counted friends. As president of Liberty University, and more importantly as a friend of Dr. Jerry Falwell Sr., I have an obligation to ensure his vision carries on for generations to come.

Prevo is the President of Liberty University.

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