Challenging Words from True Friends


“You are such a know-it-all.”

These words from a close high school friend stung. I may have defended myself to her, and probably felt some resentment. But the words lingered and I thought about why she would say that.

Yes,  did have a tendency to think I am right, that I know what is best, that my plan is a good one. So her words became a real gift from a true friend to help me think about what I say.

But I am a slow learner, and God has been faithful to send similar gifts from other true friends in his efforts to grow humility and Christlikeness in me.

Early in my writing/editing career with Cru I was involved with the Evangelical Press Association and served on the Board for several years. Toward the end of my term, I met some new members and assumed they know who I was, but they didn’t.

Because of my self-absorption, the ensuing conversation was awkward and embarrassing. As a friend and I walked away, she suggested, “A little arrogant, weren’t you? It’s a good thing your term on the board is ending.”

Again, the words stung, yet they still linger, an ongoing gift. And I am still a slow learner.

At one time I led a committee tasked with ministering to a large group of women. I found it challenging to keep our committee moving toward decisions and plans. In frustration, I appointed someone else to head up an event we were responsible for.

My coworkers were hurt and said, “Couldn’t you at least have asked us what we thought?”Still learning. God is patient and continued to send friends with needed gifts.

Apparently I continued to run ahead in my thinking when groups seemed slow to come to conclusions. Sometimes I made decisions and announced them to the group. A close friend chided me gently: “Your words to them seemed abrupt and unkind.”

Probably the strongest, most memorable, most impacting words came from Bill Bright, founder of Cru and a mentor I worked closely with for many years.

We were wrapping up a meeting about the next issue of our magazine when He said, “:Judy, are you walking in the Spirit?

”I stammered, “I think so.”

His reply confounded me: “Others don’t think you are.”

Then, “Are you sure you are called by God to this ministry?”

“Yes, I am certain.”

Gently he added, “Be sure to keep walking in the Spirit.”

For me, my sense of knowing what I want and thinking I am right—sure signs of pride and arrogance—have required a long journey toward humility and living out the character of Jesus. God has been gentle and compassionate—and persistent—in his commitment to my transformation.

Have I made progress? I believe so. Have I arrived? Surely not.

But I am grateful that God has used the challenging words of true friends to give me good life-changing gifts.

What about you? When has God given you good gifts from true friends?

C2019 Judy Douglass