Who I hang out with

O ne of my friends is a social worker. He’s a whole lot more than that as well. I sing with him. He can look at a score of music and read every note faultlessly. He was a top-brass rugby and basketball player in the UK during his youth. He was the elite in the masters division of the KZN surfing team a few years ago. He is probably the most underrated person I know. He’s happily married and is father to five delightful children.

He’s an Irishman – a project manager – who voluntarily works in South African communities and is right at the coalface of many of the most pressing issues in our nation: HIV/Aids, crime, teenage pregnancies, joblessness, hunger and poverty.

He believes Jesus is who He says He is.

I try to spend as much time with this friend of mine as possible. If the verse in Proverbs is true about bad company corrupting good character, then the converse must also be true.

I try and surround myself with people who are better at life than I am. Men and women who are in a hotter pursuit of holiness, who work for a state of excellence, who have high standards and a good moral code of humanity. They never talk about that stuff directly, they just live it. I want their ways, their habits, their way of life to rub off on me.

Another friend of mine is an advocate. He’s old school Afrikaans, and a bit older than I am. I need to spend as much time around this guy as possible, because I can learn so much from him.

If he says something, he means it. If he commits to something, there’s nothing half-measure about how he involves himself. If he says he’ll be there at 4.30pm, you can bet top dollar that he’ll be earlier rather than later. He deals with all sorts in his work, and yet he serves in the local church, in his community and he’s willing to hang out with a young hooligan like me.

I run a sports programme at a junior school. I work with some of the best teachers in business. You probably won’t find any better. They download strong values of respect, responsibility and discipline into the young minds they mentor. I’ve been there nine months, and I feel as though I have got a crash-course PhD from these teachers. The children emerge, each of them, with a healthy self esteem and vivid sense of where the moral boundaries of this life should be.

I spend a lot of time learning from them as much as I can.

They say you become who you hang out with. I have realised that who you decide to hang out with and glean stuff from is a choice – one I’ve made very distinctly. From now on, I tell myself and all the young kids I work with, to choose good friends.

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