5 Ways to Be a Friend Who Hinders Growth


Relationships are important for those who want to experience significant life change.

But what about those who prefer to remain stuck—to try and try without ever making headway, to see their best efforts add up to futility and failure? There are ways to help them succeed (er, I mean, fail to succeed).

So if you want to hinder growth in the life of a friend, just follow these 5 easy tips and you’re sure to see the lack of progress they’re after.

Tip #1: Focus on the negative.

Positivity and encouragement are overrated. Whether your friend’s progress is a measly 1% or a whopping 99%, focus primarily on where she’s slipping up, what she’s done wrong, or what’s not working. For example, if she’s held to her new health plan for the past three weeks but not lost any weight, hone in on the importance of weight loss. You might even remind her that “The scale doesn’t lie.”

Tip #2: Use the Reverse Silent Treatment

When your friend is doing well, assume you’re not needed. Adopt a Leave well enough alone mindset. Pay attention only when he’s messing up. Over time, he’ll come to equate your friendship with his bad behavior. (He may even get the impression that freedom from bad habits will result in living life alone.)

Tip #3: Ignore the Deeper Matters

Assume your friend continues to struggle because she simply needs to do more and try harder. Don’t seek to help your friend understand what’s going on under the surface. What she’s done is all the matters. Don’t delve into why she’s done what she’s done. Most definitely ignore the realm of thoughts, feelings, beliefs and assumptions.

Tip #4: Give Lots of Advice

Use the words “should” and “shouldn’t” as much as possible. Asking thoughtful questions and listening without judgment should be avoided. If possible, use Christian phrases to make your advice sound godly (this can also increase the guilt factor). One bonus of this approach is if he does better, you’ll get all the credit, and if he doesn’t do better, you’ll get to give even more advice. It’s a win-win, really (well, for you).

Tip #5: Leave the Cross Out of It

Forget the reality that, because he loves her, Jesus came for your friend. Forget that she needs him, and that underneath all of this, she’s really searching for him. Forget that he died on the cross and then conquered sin and death because she can’t bring about her own righteousness (forget that you can’t either). And forget that in Christ, her old self has been crucified with him, and she has and is being raised up with him according to his power, not her own.

Question: What other tips would you offer to help someone become a “friend” who hinders growth in others? Leave a comment below.

Not that kind of friend,

Thanks For Reading.

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  • Great words here! Don’t forget about blowing the confidentiality in the name of “praying for a brother or sister in need.” 🙂

    • Great addition to this list. I’ve seen it done — it is a tried and true way to hinder growth not only for that individual but also for everyone else with whom the “prayer request” is shared. (Who would dare open up to others if this is what they can expect?)Thanks, Michelle.

By Josh Glaser

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