From Ch. 3 of the NEW book “Courageous Faith: My Story From a Life of Obedience”
By Charles F. Stanley

Have you chosen relationships that build your faith and strengthen your Christian life? Or do those closest to you consistently tear you down and weaken your trust in God? Make sure that you are choosing your spiritual mentors and friends wisely. How can you do so? Analyze your relationships. Good influences should:

Drive you—motivating you to be and do your best in every area. So look at the person’s life. Does he or she have a godly character that inspires you to seek God more? Does being around him or her build your faith and confidence in the Lord? Or do that individual’s words and actions lead you away from your relationship with Jesus—even subtly? Everyone you know will either move you toward the Father or away from Him, so be very careful about whom you choose to be closest to you.

Develop you—causing you to mature in your faith and become the person God wants you to be. This can be seen in how the person interacts with you. Is he or she truly committed to helping you grow in your faith? Does that individual actively love you as you are, but also show interest in helping you become better—reaching the full potential the Father created you to experience? Does he or she inspire you to trust that “nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37)?

Delight you—bringing you happiness and comfort, and helping you to enjoy life. You can see this by looking at the fruit that is produced when you’re around that person. Are you energized and do situations seem better when he or she is present? Does that individual bring out the best in you and stimulate you to put your gifts to use? When you are hurting, does he or she console you and help you overcome the trials you are facing? Does that person cheer on your strengths, encourage you in your weaknesses, and spur your personality to shine for the glory of God?

Of course, that doesn’t mean every relationship in your life will be so Christ-centered or motivational, but the very closest ones—the ones who ultimately shape your path—should be. So I truly hope you have godly people in your life who will drive, develop, and delight you in a manner that helps you grow closer to the Father. Such spiritual influences, friends, and mentors can be an incredible treasure—not because of anything they have or who they are as far as the world is concerned, but because they faithfully accompany and support you on the path to all God has for you.

After all, my friend, you and I were never called to go it alone in this walk of faith. Consider why God established the church in the first place. He did so in order for us to have an inherent support network as His children—to give us guidance and direction for our lives; to provide strength, protection, and help in times of suffering and sorrow; and, of course, so we can be His representatives to a lost and dying world. This is why Hebrews 10:24–25 admonishes, “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”

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