Boy to Man Book, Chapter 7: Listen to Your friends, Even When You Don’t Like What They’re Saying
A boy gets angry when his friends tell him the truth; a man listens and grows from it.
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” ~ Proverbs 27:6
“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” ~ Proverbs 27:17
It’s important to develop friendships with men who will tell you the truth. And it’s important that you learn to listen to them when they do.
None of us see ourselves with perfect clarity. We are blind to many of our own shortcomings and weaknesses. Others can see them but we can’t. We are so oblivious to our own flaws that we often just don’t see them even when they are glaringly obvious to others.
So we have to learn how to listen to others, ask them for their opinions, and be willing to consider seriously what they say. They certainly will not be infallible, and so you don’t have to accept everything they say without question, but they will see things about you that you will not.
We’re also very quick to justify our own behavior and speech. Everything we do will seem right in our own eyes at the time we do it. And if it’s in some situation that is emotionally charged, the chances are even higher that we will defend ourselves to the hilt and find it hard to accept the possibility that we might be at fault.
All this explains why we need male friends who will tell us the truth about ourselves.
Solomon says, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses” (Prov. 27:6).
Another translation says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” “Faithful” means trustworthy or dependable. They are words you can count on, words on which you can lean and on which you can place your weight.
Because they come from a friend, you know his words, as hard as they may be to hear at times, come from someone who loves you and cares about you and wants only the best for you. Listen to a friend like that, even when his words are difficult to hear.
Now Solomon says they are “wounds.” That means when friends tell you the truth, it might hurt. And you’ll find yourself reacting defensively and wanting to dismiss what they tell you because all of us find it difficult to admit to ourselves that we’ve blown it.
But a real man will resist the impulse to reflexively defend himself. Receive what you hear from friends, weigh it, think it over, ask God to help you sort through what you’ve heard, and then hang on to the truth of what they’ve told you.
Solomon also says, “Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel” (Prov. 27:9). When a friend is speaking to you sincerely and thoughtfully, you’d best listen. The best friends you will ever have are the ones who will speak truth into your life.
One of the most familiar of all the proverbs is this one: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Prov. 27:17). Sharpening a blade, whether on a knife or a mower, requires friction and that friction produces sparks. But that’s the only way a blade can become as sharp as it needs to be to do all it was designed to do.
So in your friendship with close male friends, there may be times of friction and times when the sparks fly. But that is how God is preparing you to be a sharp instrument in his hand. You can’t cut wood with a dull axe.
Remember: a boy gets angry when his friends tell him the truth; a man listens, learns and grows from it.
Father, I pray that you will make my son into a man who is willing to receive the truth from his friends, even when it is hard to hear. And use him to speak a word of truth into the lives of his friends when they need to hear it. In Jesus’ name, amen.
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)
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