There is a quote from a short viral video that has been running for my mind for months now. It is by Apostle Selman, and he says, “If there are five foolish people around you, you did not count well. There are six.” The statement subtly indicates that you become unwise when you constantly hang around foolish people. I have likened this law of friendship and association to the art of boat sailing. When sailors row their boat, they learn to completely trust each other and keep their eyes on the goal. People row together when solving the problem is useful to everyone in the boat:
- What kind of people do you talk to daily?
- What do you discuss when you are around your closest circle?
- Are you a friend who people can meet and ask for help?
- Do people turn away from you when you ask them for help?
This train of thought leads me to two stories on how you should view and determine your friendships.
THE MAN WHO RAN AWAY
The first story is about a prophet who received an assignment to preach in a great city.. His name was Jonah. However, Jonah disobeyed the call and headed to a different city. As he took a ship to head to the different city, a violent storm arose and threatened to break up the ship. The sailors were so terrified. They threw the cargo to lighten the ship and cried to their gods, but the storm persisted.
Meanwhile Jonah slept deeply and was unaware of the storm. Eventually the sailors found out he was a prophet, and they woke him up, asking for help. To the sailors’ surprise, the disobedient prophet said he was the cause of the storm and asked them to throw him to the sea.
“Pick me up and throw me into the sea.,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.”– Jonah 1:12
What did his fellow travelers do? Jonah 1:15 reads: “Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm.”
How do you think those people felt when throwing off Jonah? Were they frightened? Desperate to be alive? Indecisive? Now think about how they felt after the storm stopped. Were they grateful to cut him off? Were they relieved?
If you have been in an unlucky friendship, then you can understand both situations. Those who have had toxic relationships will also understand best. These kinds of friends bring bad vibes and bring out the worst. In certain situations, you can lose yourself, your goals and what you believe in. Be careful of these types of people whether acquaintances, friends or family. Cutting them off is the only way to save your life.
Do not be a Jonah here too. Don’t force friendships and relationships down people’s throats too. Seek people with similar interests and become valuable to them. When you sense hostility or rejection, kindly maintain your distance and leave the person alone.
This leads us to the second story. And this is where it gets interesting.
THE MAN WHO FACED THE STORM
Another prophet found himself in this same situation as Jonah. A violent storm developed while he and his followers were in a boat, causing waves so high that the boat was about to be swamped, and the prophet had fallen asleep. His followers woke up the prophet, crying to him to save them. And here is what happened when he woke up. Mark 4:39 reads, “He said, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind stopped, and the lake became calm.”
Now how do you think the followers felt with this second prophet in their boat? Did they feel safe? Secure? Amazed and invincible? If you have read this story before, it concludes with them being astonished and wondering what kind of man he was. (The prophet’s name was Jesus, by the way.)
Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything. – Muhammad Ali
THIS IS HOW FRIENDSHIPS SHOULD BE
I think this is the situation of Jesus and his followers depicts how friendships should be. People being marveled or feeling safe with each other. No backbiting or flattery. A true friend should care about you, shows concern and respects your thoughts and emotions even when they may not agree.
To know the true friends in your life, pause and ask yourself these questions:
- Are there people in my life who make me feel worse when they are around?
- When I am dull and lonely, do I have anybody who makes me happy or encourages me whenever I talk to them?
- Who are the people I can trust with my deepest thoughts and feelings?
- Have I shared my thoughts or emotions with anybody and felt safe in those moments?
- Who are the people who share my values and interests?
- Can I build better relationships with people who already share my values and interests?
BE A FRIEND TO OTHER PEOPLE TOO
And you must be friendly too. To find true friends, you need to be yourself and share your thoughts and feelings with others. Also remember that finding true friends takes time and effort. You may not find the perfect friend overnight. But with patience, persistence, and a positive attitude, you can overcome the challenges of finding true friends and building lasting relationships that can bring joy and support to your life.
And when seeking friends, respect other people’s boundaries. Observe and maintain different degrees of interaction at work, school, church, and life in general before taking the extra step. Not everyone can be your friend. You cannot be everybody’s friend too. Jonah was sent to preach to only one city. Jesus only chose 12 disciples.
When rocking your boat, be Jesus and throw off the Jonahs. Be wise and considerate as a friend. Sometimes the five foolish people around you may not be foolish but simply waiting for you to display your wisdom so they can be like you.