My pastor used to always say that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Because of that rule, he would say, it is important to choose wisely who those five individuals are going to be. If you choose to associate with people who are underachievers, then the chancers are that you, too, will be an underachiever. If you choose to associate with people who are successful, then the chances are that you, too, will be successful.
This principle came from motivational speaker Jim Rohn, but we can also find this same principle in the book of Proverbs. In Proverbs 13:20, it says to "Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble" (NLT).
I can remember in my formative years occasionally choosing friends that opened up the door for me to engage in activity that was, at times, not beneficial to my development as a man of God. At the same time, I remember having friends that were highly important in my growth as a follower of Christ. The problem for me, and perhaps for many who call themselves a Christian, was that there was an improper balance of time spent with the right people.
We would be careful not to take this simple principle and come to the conclusion that we should never spend time with people that are not walking with Jesus. We would be careful not to take this simple principle and come to the conclusion that we should isolate ourselves from a fallen and broken world that desperately needs to hear about and experience the love of Christ. Jesus made a habit - a habit which most Christians are either scared of or ill-equipped to engage in - of being with those who most needed to hear about how he could change their lives. He met with the less-than-desirables, he ate in their homes, he allowed a prostitute to wash his feet with her tears of shame and regret, he pursued fellowship with a tax collector, and he pursued us and desired fellowship with us when we were unfit for his presence.
The idea here is not that we disassociate from those who need to hear the Gospel message. The idea is that we make a priority the fellowship of those who would see to our personal and spiritual growth. Part of this is accountability. Part of this is wisdom. Part of this is simply choosing to receive the counsel of those who will give wise counsel and will challenge us to be better and more like Christ.
When we engage in that kind of purposeful accountability and relationship, we are better equipped and strengthened to reach our broken world.
Consider carefully who has been invited into or allowed into your circle of influence. Who are the five that have your ear and you have theirs? Are they desiring to see you grow in your walk with Christ? Do they themselves have a walk with Christ that is to be admired? Walk with those who are wise, and you, too, will be wise.