He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Proverbs 13:20

There was a season in our life when we spent a great deal of time with a number of couples. We would have them over to our house for cookouts, to watch the Atlanta Braves, to have game nights, you name it. Our families were in the same age and stage of life, so connecting came rather natural for us.

Over time, however, it became apparent that their influence upon us was more adverse than our influence upon them was positive. Husbands would gather around the Braves game and make snide comments about their wives. Wives would be in the kitchen throwing their husbands “under the bus.”

We knew continuing in this dynamic was not going to be beneficial for our relationship in the long run. So, we made a conscious decision to begin distancing ourselves from a number of these couples.

If you and I are ever to grow in our relations with others as God intends, it’s crucial that we choose our friends wisely. They will determine our future – for good or for bad. Show me your friends today, and I’ll show you your future two years from now.

We all have three types of people in our lives – those who are upstream from us, those who are walking buddies, and those who are downstream from us.

Upstream people are those we look up to. They’re doing life the way we would like to – spiritually, mentally, emotionally, relationally, financially, vocationally, physically, etc. We could see ourselves becoming like them. And, that would be a good thing.

Walking buddies are people who tend to be at the same age and stage of life as us. They’re like us. They think like us, believe like us, and act like us. We challenge one another. We encourage one another. We’re peers.

Downstream people are just that – they’re downstream. They don’t tend to make the wisest decisions. Their relationships may be fragile at best. Overall, their lives tend to be one drama after another.

Who are your friends? Where are they in relation to you? Upstream? Walking Buddies? Downstream?

  • Do your friends call out the best in you?
  • Are they helping you become the best possible version of you?
  • Do your friends help you fulfill God’s plans and purposes for your life? If not, what needs to change?
  • If your friendships remain the same, what will your future look like two years from now? Is that the future you aspire to?


-From Scott & Dawn Smith's book Principles of Life