No one who consistently criticizes me and puts me down is going to be considered my best friend. I’m just not going to have a best friend who doesn’t believe in me. I think you’d say that is true of you too.
James 2:23 says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness, and he was called the friend of God.” The reason Abraham was the friend of God was because he didn’t question Him. In Genesis 12:1, we read that God told Abraham to leave his hometown of Ur of the Chaldeans. And Abraham left. When God said something to Abraham, he believed it and acted on it. Today, Abraham is the father of our faith.
Our spouses need to hear and see our belief in them. We can’t put our spouses down and be negative toward them and think that we can build a strong friendship. Friends believe in one another.
Psalm 100:4 tells us that we enter God’s gates with thanksgiving and into His courts—His very presence—with praise. We are built the same way. We receive people into our hearts who come to us with praise and affirmation. Conversely, none of us welcomes a negative person in.
You’ll see this truth very quickly in the lives of your children. You will never influence your children until you are able to speak to their hearts. The way to their hearts is by being their greatest friend. You can correct your children all day long and not bring a permanent change in their choices and actions unless they know you care about them—unless they can see that you are their biggest fan.
A story is told of the mother of a little Jewish boy who came home and announced that he’d been expelled from school. Her response was, “I knew it! They don’t know how to teach a genius over there.” How’s that for affirmation?! She was his greatest fan.
This humorous exaggeration illustrates a point. The attitude that causes your children to give you entrance into their lives is when they know that your message to them is “I’m your biggest fan. I am not going to denigrate or disparage you. I am going to believe in you. I am the one who is going to teach you.”
When you see the best in your children and you speak the best over them, they open their hearts to you. That’s when you have an opportunity to effectively speak into their lives and say, “Don’t do that, honey. You’re better than that.” Your children will tend to rise to your highest expectation.
Likewise, in marriage there are times when we’re going to need to be able to speak into each other’s lives. We’re going to have issues that we need to deal with, corrective things we’ll need to say to each other. But to have an entrance to do so effectively requires a foundation of firm belief in one another.
In the old TV sitcom “All in the Family,” Archie Bunker’s nickname for his wife, Edith, was Dingbat. Some couples’ nicknames for each other are derogatory, and their communication is laced with sarcasm and derision. Perhaps you’ve heard similar things in your family gatherings. It’s one of the most uncomfortable environments you can be in.
Do I need to point out that this is less than conducive to developing friendship? Friendship is inductive—it induces other people toward us. It makes them want to get closer. We naturally gravitate to the place of praise, acceptance and positive belief.
Karen and I work on keeping praise at the forefront of our relationship. I’m Karen’s biggest fan, and she is mine. If you were in our home every day, you would observe that the words we speak to each other are overwhelmingly positive. So are the pet names we have for each other.
Why? Because, if you’re going to be best friends, you’re going to continually do and say things that assure your spouse that you believe in him or her. You’re going to do the things that draw you to one another and open you up to one another.
Be sure to read the rest of the series.