The individuals you choose to habitually associate with will influence who you become as a person more than just about any other single factor. You will inevitably take on the habits, attitudes, beliefs and even the mannerisms of the people you surround yourself with most often. You will either be sharpened or dulled by your choice of associations.
If you hang around people who refuse to set goals, who limit God with their own negative attitudes, if you hang around people who whine, complain and condemn – then the inescapable fact is that you will become just like them. You may not notice it because the scary part about the law of association is that it sneaks up on you in the same way that a person becomes overweight – one tiny ounce at a time. People don’t punch and kick and drag you off course, they nudge you one little bit, then a little bit more, then just a hair more – and then the damage is done.
If you want to become all that God designed you to become, you must make the shift from spending time with just anyone to investing time with the right people – investing time with individuals who produce a Godly return in your life. This is no doubt a harsh but essential life principle. And who are the right people? Well, it all depends on your particular situation and goals, but here are some universal suggestions to get you started.
1. Invest time with people whose character and integrity is equal to or greater than your own.
2. Invest time with people who share your faith, particularly those who are further along in their relationship with God than you are.
3. Invest time with an accountability partner or accountability group. Be willing to answer the hard questions, the tough questions that are avoided by the majority. Strong accountability relationships are an invaluable advantage in living a life of Christian excellence. So get around people who challenge you to constantly stretch and grow and raise your standards.
4. Invest time with people who praise and encourage you – people who lovingly and repeatedly remind you that God is working exciting things through you.
5. Invest time with people whose lives demonstrate the fruits of their faith.
6. Invest time with people who are sincerely committed to being positively influenced and sharpened by their exposure to you!
Let me remind you of the two main reasons that you might not ever want to wrestle with a pig: Reason number one is that you’ll just get dirty. And the second reason is that the pigs will like it…… ” Don’t fool yourselves.,” as Paul wrote in First Corinthians, ” Bad friends will destroy you.”[CEV]