“The people you surround yourself with influence your behaviors, so choose friends who have healthy habits.” – Dan Buettner

We often misunderstand the influence that people have in our lives. The two words that most accurately describe influence are powerful and subtle. The influence of others can be powerful because we all desire to have people like us, therefore, we may start acting like others to gain their approval. Their influence is also subtle because we may think it has no effect on us. Often, we don’t know we’re being influenced until it is too late. People we spend the most time with will influence the quality and direction of our lives.

This is why corporate and government leaders must be intentional about having the right inner circle of people around them.But how do you arrive at the right inner circle? What qualities and behavior should you look for as a Christian. In Sunday’s message and in the devotionals for this week, I will discuss some essential elements to consider when it comes to who should be in your inner circle.

You can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep. I have seen the damage done time and time again by people who started attending church, but chose to still hang out with their old friends. In most cases, they found themselves pulled back into the world. If you are a new believer, you cannot hang out with the old friends like you used to and think you will not be affected. It just doesn’t work that way. That doesn’t mean to imply all your friends are bad. What it does mean is to make sure your inner circle is taking you in the direction of maturing as a Christian.

1 Corinthians 15:33 is pretty blunt: “Bad company corrupts good character.” God saw fit to warn us about this because the people we let into our lives, is who we become. Let me clear up something I’m sure many people are either asking or at least thinking at this point. Yes, we can still love people, accept and forgive them. And yes, they can be our friends. But, be careful who is in your inner circle that will influence the quality and direction of your life.

As I said on Sunday, because I was so positive, accepting and forgiving, I allowed just about anyone into my innermost circle of friends. And as I said Sunday, a series of experiences over time gave me some hard learned insight into the importance of choosing friends wisely. Friends have the ability to help you grow into the best person you can be, but they also have the ability to stymie your growth.

Proverbs 13:20 says “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” This verse is telling us if we choose righteous and godly friends, they will help motivate us to seek after and pursue a relationship with God. But if we choose wicked and ungodly friends, they will ultimately lead us to harm. It is a true principle that we become like those we spend the most time with.

Since I gave my life to Jesus Christ, there have been any number of people who have guided and mentored me. But there were only a handful that have had a profound influence on me. If I were to list their names, you probably would have heard of several and several would be people you have never heard of. But the one thing they have in common is they had an uncommon walk with the Lord that allowed the power of the Holy Spirit to flow through them. Their words echoed the truth of God’s word because they faithfully spent time with the Lord. That’s because people that genuinely spend time with the Lord are genuinely changed and they make the best inner circle.

Tomorrow’s devotional: Bible Best Buds.

Discussion Questions:
1. Identify people that you are currently walking through life with; your friends, co-workers, classmates, neighbors, etc. What makes some of them stand out?
2. Do you have an inner circle of people in your life? How many people make up that inner circle? What are some characteristics or qualities of your inner circle people? How has having an inner circle allowed you to better move forward?
3. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” What is that saying to you?
4. Amos 3:3 says, “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” Does someone have to be of like mind to be in your inner circle?
5. Pray and ask God for wisdom on who should be in your inner circle.