Summary: A true friend will improve you.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!"

- Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Grooming Your Pallbearers

Tim Kimmel - President of Generation Ministries

My wife, Darcy; and I were on a date, sitting in the corner of the restaurant waiting for our food. I took out my pen and started to mark lines on a paper napkin. When I was done, I had made an acceptable likeness of a casket. I slid it across the table.

Darcy peeked at it, then rolled her eyes. She knew I hadn’t been taking this milestone (the big forty) in my life as well as I should. But this time she had read my thinking wrong.

"How many people does it take to carry one of these?" She looked at me with whimsical eyes that said, "What is he up to now? But she gave the right answer. "Six."

"Darcy; if I died tomorrow, who would you ask to carry my casket?’ I had plenty of friends who I believed would be willing to help with this task, assuming there was nothing more pressing in their appointment book. But I didn’t want those types of people carrying me to my grave. I wanted People who would drop whatever they were doing in order to drop me. Our conversation reminded me I had some work to do in the area of committed friends.

I realize this could sound morbid, but I decided I needed to start grooming my pallbearers. Certainly not because I planned on needing them anytime soon. But they represent the people who have been with you through the best and the worst of times. It was obvious to me that if I wanted to have rich friendships I would have to be a loyal friend.

How are you doing when it comes to friendship?

We begin today a series on the subject of friendship - not so much so that we might recognize those who are true friends to us as to learn how we might be true friends to others.

"A man who has friends must himself be friendly"

- Proverbs 18:24 (NKJV)

"If one is to have friends, he must first learn how to be a friend."

That is going to be the focus of this series-learning how to have friends by being a true friend. Our passage for today tells us that a true friend lifts you up. Our passage tells us two specific things:

1. A true friend lifts you up to higher levels of achievement - v. 9

How do they do this?

A. They stand behind you. A true friend will support you!

A woman and her husband, the mayor of a large city, were walking along the street one day when a construction worker on a nearby scaffolding leaned over and shouted, "Hello, Peggy." She turned to look and recognized him as being an old boyfriend from high school. She returned his greeting and they had a brief conversation before she and her husband continued their walk.

The mayor chuckled and said to his wife, "See there ,if you had married that fellow, you’d be the wife of a construction worker."

She looked at him and said, "no, dear, if I’d married him, he would be the mayor of this city."

Behind everyone who achieves anything of worth is a friend of great worth!

B. They stand beside you. A true friend will strengthen you!

They are the kind of folks that I’ve heard called "Parsley People," because like parsley on a plate, their desire is always to make you look good. They are people who are committed to your success.

A story appeared in the Southern Methodist Bulletin in which the writer shared the following: "Our riding lawnmower had broken down and I had been working fruitlessly to get it going. Suddenly, my new neighbor appeared with a handful of tools. ‘Can I give you a hand?’ he asked. In 20 minutes he had the mower functioning beautifully. ‘Say, what do you make with such a fine set of tools?’ I asked. He smiled and said, ‘Friends.’"

What can you use to strengthen and help those around you?

C. They stand before you. A true friend will stimulate you!

While sitting in the club house, an old friend asked Bill why he no longer played golf with George. Bill said, "Would you play golf with a guy who’s always improving his ball position, occasionally slips a tee under his ball in the fairway, and regularly lies about his score?" The answer from the old friend was obvious, "Certainly not!" Bill said, "Well, neither will George."

We need to be the kind of friend who lifts others up, rather than dragging others down! People ought to be able to say that they are a better person because of our influence in their lives!

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