This is something that I am particularly passionate about because I think it's one of the best ways to show God's love to people. Sometimes, if you are who they seek to lean on, you are the one that the Lord is using to comfort them. Isn't that cool! You can be God's tool to love others! :)
Here are some things that I have learned while trying to be a good friend:
1. Be quick to listen.
James 1:19: My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry
Most often, your friends are not looking for you to dictate what they should be doing. They normally know the right answer. If you give them advice and they do not take it, then you could feel irritated and they may be embarrassed to come to you with the same problem. This is not to say that you should not confront them when they are doing something harmful to themselves or others- but the point I am trying to make is allow them to talk things over with you without jumping in with solutions.
Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Build up your friends, because this world is all about cutting others down in order to advance ourselves. Keep them accountable to their goals as well- it is also a form of building them up according to their needs. It's not always easy to confront a friend when they are doing something harmful to themselves, but necessary all the same.
3. Consider your motivations.
Matthew 7: 4-5: How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
Once I had a person come to me in a "loving confrontation." It really damaged me, and I thanked her for bringing it to my attention. It wasn't until I went to my husband, broken, that I realized that she was chewing me out to meet her own needs. There are times where our personal feelings to get in the way of our obligation to love. Examine your motivations before confronting or giving advice.
Galatians 5:6: The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
Keep love in your mind at all times.