When I was in high school, I had a friend who broke wild horses. I would sit and watch him for hours as he would try to tame this horse that fought him like crazy! Every so often, he would have to use spurs to prod the horse into submission. That sting incited the horse to change its course of action and choose another!
In friendship, when we see negative qualities in our friend, we may desperately want to see them change, but may go about it the wrong way. The truth is that the negative qualities you see in another person are simply their positive qualities being twisted and misused.
EVERY NEGATIVE QUALITY IS A POSITIVE QUALITY BEING MISUSED
For example, you may have a friend who is extremely critical of others. In that instance, the God-given gift of discernment is being misused. God has given her the ability to see the flaws and blind spots in others so she can know how to pray for them, encourage them, and help them. But this gift can be twisted and used by them to condemn and be critical of others and even talking about them. See how it works?
Here are some other examples: Someone who is extremely controlling, arrogant, and overbearing actually has the God-given gifts of leadership and confidence that are being misused. A friend who is extremely passive and indecisive may have the God-given gift of flexibility and cooperativeness. The friend who procrastinates has a God-given gift of patience and a submissive spirit. And finally, the friend who is impatient, pushy, stubborn, and perfectionistic is really one who has the God-given gifts of zeal, discipline, persuasiveness, and efficiency.
So what is the solution? How do we help them get these negative characteristics untwisted?
1. Bring attention to the positive more often than the negative. When a friend uses the characteristic positively, commend her for it. Say things such as, “The way you have the ability to _____________ (positive character trait) is amazing. I see God at work in you when you live like that. You would make such a great _______________ (fill in with an occupation, ministry, service, or so on)!” In this way, you are turning her attention to the positive qualities. That shifting of focus changes the approach and the attitude, which then begins to transform the actions.
2. Think of and design activities that develop that characteristic in a positive manner within your friend. Watch for opportunities for her to use these positive qualities and encourage her to step in and use them in the right way. Look for an opening in the community for her to volunteer. Offer to do it with her. Who knows, God may use you to transform her direction in life to conform to God’s original design for her!
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Hebrews 10:24 The word spur means “to arouse, incite, and provoke in order to sharpen.” Part of your role as a friend is to incite your friend to use her God-given qualities the way God intended them.
When helping your friend discover the possibilities that await her, you may be tempted to become disappointed when you see her negative character traits. To protect yourself from condemning your friend, help her untwist the negative uses of her God-given qualities and sharpen them into a tool God can use to cut through the darkness and help others see the light and life of Jesus shining through.
Real Friends Wear Spurs.