The old adage says it all "A man is known by the company he keeps." It is very important for our well being to be a great friend to someone and to have a group of good friends supporting you. It can be hard to pinpoint exactly what makes a good friend. Friends will come and go in your life, but more important than how long a friendship lasts, is that a good friend will love you for who you are.
The way you can tell the sign of a good friend is by looking at the actions they take -- big and small -- that show they care. At the same time we must be careful who we spend a lot of time with; we all have a propensity to imitate the habits and adopt the interest and opinions of our close friends and we inadvertently embrace the values they profess.
By choosing whom we take on as friends we are charting our own destiny. Some common signs of a good friend include; their unconditional support, non-judgment, trustworthiness, sensitivity about our feelings, no put downs, kindness and respect, someone who love us out of choice not out of compulsion, someone who enjoy our company and vice versa, loyalty, telling us the truth even when it is difficult to do so, someone who laughs with us, they stick around in all circumstances, someone who gladdens our hearts and makes us smile, and most importantly someone who is always present and willing to listen to us.
Moral influence is a two way street and thus we should make sure by our own thoughts, words and deeds to be, a positive influence on our friends as well. The real test of personal excellence is how we conduct ourselves in all matters at all times. It is our actions, which speaks louder than words.
If you want to do all or many of the things listed above for someone you care about, you already know how to be a good friend. Choose your friends who are dependable and honest. Choose friends you are proud to know, people you admire, who show you love and respect -- people who reciprocate kindness.
Proceed slowly into new friendships until you know you have common values and perspectives. Be a reliable friend to your new friend. This will take some time and commitment on your part before you can expect it from them.
An important part of having a successful friendship is knowing that you can rely on them to be there to support you, spend time with you and be honest with you. Good friends allow you to experience life appropriately because you can always be your true self around them. You never have to wear a mask, and that is the most joyous way to go through life.
Associate with those who, like you, are planning for those things that matter most—even eternal objectives.
In a survey that was made in selected wards and stakes of the Church, we learned a most significant fact. Those persons whose friends married in the temple usually married in the temple, while those persons whose friends did not marry in the temple usually did not marry in the temple. The influence of one’s friends appeared to be a more dominant factor than parental urging, classroom instruction, or proximity to a temple.
We tend to become like those whom we admire. Just as in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic account “The Great Stone Face,” we adopt the mannerisms, the attitudes, even the conduct of those whom we admire—and they are usually our friends. Associate with those who, like you, are planning not for temporary convenience, shallow goals, or narrow ambition but rather for those things that matter most—even eternal objectives.
Inscribed on an east wall of Stanford University Memorial Church is the truth “All that is not eternal [is] too short, [and] all that is not infinite [is] too small.”
Beyond your circle of earthly friends, I urge you to make a friend of your Heavenly Father. He stands ready to answer the prayer of your heart. Being the Father of your spirit and having created you in His own image, knowing the end from the beginning, His wisdom will not fail and His counsel is ever true. Make a friend of Him.
There is another important friend you should have, and that is the bishop of your ward. He has been called of God by prophecy and the laying on of hands by those who are in authority. He is entitled to heavenly help in providing you with counsel and guidance. Make a friend of him.
Choose your friends with caution.
How Have You Done This?
My Heavenly Father has always been my best friend and provides me with comfort and guidance every day. My earthly friends have helped me gain a stronger testimony and a deeper desire to do more diligent work in the Church. And the bishop of my ward has given me an insightful view of the Church that has helped me grow as a member. By choosing uplifting friends, I’ve been able to better follow the strait and narrow path that will one day take me to see my Father in Heaven again. —Savannah A., Montana, USA
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This article originally appeared in theMarch 2014 Liahona.