Some time ago, I felt I needed to express a concern to a friend and spoke to him about a situation we were going through. In an effort to help, he spoke to someone who he thought might be able to take some action. In so doing, however, he mentioned my name and made the situation much worse than it originally was. Good intentions, but poorly executed. I am quite certain I am not the only one who has ever experienced a similar situation.
My wife and I have a passion for walking beside younger couples and people in general; perhaps because we had great friends who helped us a lot when we faced tough marital issues and different life events. We realize the stresses of life can warp our view and blur our vision. Some have shared how they feel comfortable speaking with us. We think that is because we have developed areas of our lives where people can feel “safe” to speak and share. Proverbs 20:6 reminds us: “You might call many people your ‘friends,’ but it is hard to find someone who can really be trusted.” The word “trusted” here can also be interpreted as one with a “kind disposition,” that is a safe person.
Based on this verse, here are 3 take aways so we can learn to become a safe friend.
1. LEARN TO SPEAK KINDLY OF OTHERS
Whether they have done you good or not, speak kindly of all people. I know, it’s not easy and we all face the temptation to speak ill of others at some point – especially those who have hurt us. 2 Timothy 2:24 says: “As a servant of the Lord, you must not argue. You must be kind to everyone. You must be a good teacher, and you must be patient.”
This is an area we need to consciously work on, because it is easy to do the opposite. Rather than speaking kindly and speaking life, we cut, chop and demolish people with our words. A critical spirit highlights the faults and failures in others; it is a spirit that emphasizes the negative and gives little or no regard to the good in people. You say: ‘why can’t I find a safe person?’ If you have a critical spirit, look no further, because if you are unkind and speak ill of others, you will draw to you those people who speak ill of others. As the proverb says, ‘birds of a feather flock together.’
Jesus condemned the Pharisees for having that “better than thou” attitude (Matthew 23). Let’s be kind to each other, speaking life giving words, and in doing so, we will attract kind people. 2 Timothy 2:24: “As a servant of the Lord, you must not argue. You must be kind to everyone.”
2. LEARN TO LISTEN AND BECOME VULNERABLE
The Bible reminds us to “always be more willing to listen than to speak.” (James 1:19) This is key to becoming a safe person, mostly because when a friend wants to speak with us, it is not always to receive the answer, but simply to share some area of struggle or frustration and open up to a friend. We don’t always have to give an answer to every question asked, which is an area I need to improve in personally. Sometimes listening and relating our own struggles shows vulnerability and encourages the person sharing that we too are susceptible.
Being vulnerable opens us up to potential injury or hurt, but it is also key to effective and honest relationships. The opposite of vulnerable is self-sufficient and autonomous, which are not necessarily evil, but can rob us of intimacy and effective relationships.
Vulnerability is often seen as a sign of weakness, but I think it is more of a sign of strength, because being vulnerable means stepping up to be seen, rather than living life on the fringe of relationships. We must, however, not throw caution to the wind and become too open with people who do not have a proven and trusted track record. We need to learn vulnerability in stages, to prove trustworthiness. So go ahead and listen, be vulnerable and let’s live Romans 12:15: “When others are happy, you should be happy with them. And when others are sad, you should be sad too.”
3. LEARN TO BE CONFIDENTIAL
Most companies we work for will require us to sign a confidentiality agreement. This prevents the employee sharing proprietary information about the company he/she works for to the outside world. In short, confidentiality places restrictions on what information we can share.
When it comes to relationships, our tendency is to build walls; we erect them for our protection because we fear a breach in trust should we share information with ‘outsiders.’ Confidentiality makes those walls invisible and causes the people we can trust, to be recipients of personal information about us.
When we are trusted with confidentiality, we are helping break down walls of self-defense and self-reliance. We are telling the person opening their hearts, that they matter to us, that the information they shared is important, that they are important and that we will protect them. Confidentiality means we love the people who trust us enough to see them healed and we welcome the opportunity to be used by God as instruments of restoration and not destruction. My goal is to become increasingly that person, will you?
Will you allow God to use you as an instrument of restoration? Will you be that trustworthy friend of Proverbs 20?
Davide has a unique communication style that has given him a platform in the marketplace to use his “get the job done” skill set.God has instilled in Davide a passion to equip the body of Christ through teaching, mentoring and speaking life through experience and wisdom of years.He is deeply passionate about pursuing and cultivating the presence of God. He currently lives with his wife of 31 years, Lois in Charlotte, NC. They have 3 amazing children with their married spouses.