What are some of the benefits friends can give us? How can we grow from what our friends tell us?
Ben Franklin, as a young man, didn’t always behave in a sensible manner. In fact, he offended many of the leading citizens of Philadelphia with his self-assumed air of importance. In Launching a Leadership Revolution, Chris Bradyand I share a story on young Franklin, “A confidant
took him aside one day and was both bold and kind enough to share the truth with Franklin that people didn’t like him.Although amazingly brilliant, nobody cared. They couldn’t stand to be around him. He was too argumentative and opinionated. His informer even told him that people would see Franklin approaching on the street and cross the road so as to avoid any contact with him. Franklin was
devastated. But his reaction to the cold,
hard truth was perhaps one of the most important components of his meteoric success.”
Orrin goes on in his article to speak about what Franklin did about what his friend said. However, just for a moment, let’s consider the courage and conviction, not to mention his compassion and consideration, of Franklin’s anonymous friend.
It is only a true friend that would do what Benjamin Franklin’s friend did for him. Fair weather friends tell us what we want to hear. True friends tell us the truth, even when they are certain we won’t like what they have to say. True friends speak from compassion and conviction. Their compassion comes from not only the thoughtless things we do to others, but also from their love for us. Their conviction comes from the knowledge they see the truth and must tell us, all the while knowing a bad reaction on our part could damage the friendship.
When it comes to our friends, speaking truth to them in love, with compassion, is a duty of true friendship. And the hearer, who does as Franklin did and took his friend’s words to heart, shows their own commitment to the friendship by their follow-up on what they have been told, even as Franklin did. Let us resolve together to both speak and receive the truth in love from our friends.