The importance of friendship
by Hannah Knight (revised, originally published in 2014)
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To remind us of the importance of friendship and how we can learn to love our enemies.
Preparation and materials
- Prior to the assembly, ask a few students to prepare a small passage about what friendship means to them and bring it along on the day.
- Prearrange for a student to read the Bible passage Matthew 5.43–45 (or the paraphrased version) during the ‘Time for reflection’ part of the assembly.
- Start by reading out the following definition of friendship: ‘The emotions or conduct of friends; the state of being friends.’
Ask the students to read the passages that they have prepared about what friendship means to them.
- Friendship can be found in many different forms and in many different places. It could be a friend we have known since we were babies, someone we regularly see on the bus, a friendship that we share with our brother and sister or even a friendship with our pets.
- A friend is normally someone we feel close to, someone we can talk with when we are upset and have fun with when we are happy. A friend is someone we can be honest with in conversations and someone we can trust to keep a secret.
Having friends is one of the world’s greatest pleasures. Taking the time to get to know someone and nurture a lasting friendship can be difficult, but it is worth every ounce of effort.
- With friendships, it is important to put ourselves in other people’s shoes because this ensures that we are treating people in the same way that we would like to be treated.
Here are some tips for being a good friend.
– Be trustworthy and loyal. If a friend tells us something in confidence, we should keep that information to ourselves. Imagine how hurtful it would be if our friend spilled the beans about us to someone else in our friendship group.
– Listen! Sometimes, we are so concerned about getting our own thoughts and opinions across that we forget to listen to the other person. Being a good listener could differentiate us from other friends and it is also a great skill in life generally.
– Be supportive. It’s impossible to be selfless all the time, but we can try to think of others before ourselves more often. If our friend is struggling with a task, we could help. If they are sad, we could organize a surprise or even just spend extra time listening to them.
– Forgive. One of the best qualities that we can have as a friend is the ability to forgive. We all make mistakes, and it’s important that we value our friendship more than words that are spoken. This may also mean that people will be more willing to forgive us in turn.
- When we are young, making friends might seem easier. A friendship could blossom simply from asking to borrow a classmate’s crayons. However, as we grow up, our expectations change.
Listen to this quotation from Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne: ‘You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.’
Sometimes, we have to ignore the voice in our heads that tells us to hide in the corner. Instead, we should pluck up the courage to speak to new people. Remember, we can never have too many friends. It is also important that we are not judgmental. Just because someone looks different or has different interests doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t approach them. In fact, doing so is a great way to learn new things!
- One way of making friends could involve joining a new club or starting a hobby. Engaging with people who have similar interests can be a great conversation starter.
Time for reflection
In the Bible, we are told that we must love our enemies. This may sound like a peculiar thing to do, but it does make sense. If we can be mature enough not to act in the same ways that our enemies do - with nasty comments or violence - we are already one step ahead. It means that we are smart enough not to follow a bad example.
Sometimes, people act in certain ways for a reason. Perhaps they have problems at home or are being bullied. It is our job to pray for these people and be the ones who set a good example.
Ask the prearranged student to read the Bible passage Matthew 5.43–45.
Alternatively, you may wish to use the following paraphrased version.
You’re familiar with the old saying, ‘Love your friend’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy’. I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the supple moves of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best - the sun to warm and the rain to nourish - to everyone, regardless: the good and the bad, the nice and the nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Anybody can do that.
To sum up, let’s remember these three key points.
– Everyone deserves friendship.
– We must work hard to be a good friend.
– We must love our enemies and be willing to forgive.
Point out that sometimes, we really want a good friend, but for some reason it doesn’t happen. Encourage the students to speak to someone if they are struggling with friendships at the moment. Identify people they could speak to within the school.
Thank you for our friends and for everything that they are.
Thank you for all their gifts and talents, the kindness that they have shown us and the many things that they have given to others.
Please help us all to be good friends to others.
Please be with those who are lonely and feel as if they have no friends.
Please help us to look out for them and include them in any way we can.
‘With a little help from my friends’ by The Beatles, available at: https://youtu.be/PPelLzokgMg (2.44 minutes long)