I hate confrontation. I’d rather just ignore problems and hope they go away. The problem is, they rarely do. One of the hardest things to acknowledge and confront is unhealthy relationships in your life.
Jim Rohn once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Look at your five closest friends’ strengths, weaknesses, successes and failures—you are right in the middle of them. That’s fine if you are content with that. But if you look around at your friends and become worried, it might be time to prune some friendships and develop some new ones.
This doesn’t mean you should cut off friends who are struggling. You should always examine your friendships carefully and prayerfully. You don’t need to give a big speech or explain why you are cutting them off.
But in some cases, it’s wise to pull away quietly when a friendship has become unhealthy and love the person from a distance. Always give them a chance to change, but in the meantime, be cautious about how much time you give them. They may actually be holding you back from what God wants to do in your life.
Here are three particular types of people I’ve learned it is best to remove from your life.
1. The Chronic Complainer
For several months, I had to share a work shift with a chronic complainer. She complained about everything—the management, certain races, the food at work, etc. We worked very closely for those months and became friends.
I didn’t realize what it was doing to me until one day a dear friend of mine said she didn’t want to hang out. I asked why. “All you do is complain anymore,” she told me. “It’s annoying. You sound like _________.” (The exact person I had been working with.)
Complainers will bring you down. Fast. Stay away from people who constantly complain. And if you are a complainer, take some time out to pray about changing your attitude and trying to see the good in things instead of just the bad.
2. The Envier
I lead people on outdoor adventures around the world for a living. On one particular trip, several long-time friends of mine came along. One of the friends commented to me during the hike, “It’s really impressive that you can get away with charging your friends to hang out with you.”
That statement really bothered me. It caused me to evaluate the friendship for several months. I began to see a pattern of this person always belittling or attacking any success God allowed in my life.
There are often people in your life who actually resent you succeeding. It may be hard, but do your best to put some distance between yourself and those people.
3. The Scoffer
King Solomon defines a fool as someone who makes the same mistakes over and over. The worst kind of fool is a scoffer—someone who actually mocks wise counsel. They are the unteachable-type who refuse to listen and learn. They just want to share their own opinions. They cause all sorts of trouble for themselves and the people around them.
I’ve suffered harm because I hung out with people who wouldn’t let anyone speak into their life. You probably have too. Proverbs 22:10 says, “Cast out the scoffer, and contention will go out.”
It takes courage to set up healthy boundaries in relationships and give yourself needed distance from certain friends. And you always want to do it gently and carefully. But to get where you really want to go, you might need to remove some people from your life. Be gracious, but choose to love them from a distance.
“He who walks with the wise will become wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm” (Proverbs 13:20).
Joel Malm is the founder of Summit Leaders Coaching and is the author of Fully You: Unlocking the Power of All You Really Are He has an M.S. in Counseling.