How to Build Your Inner Circle of Friends as a Leader

The friends you choose have the power to shape you as a leader. The record of David and Jonathan’s friendship in 1 Samuel 18:1-4 gives us a format of crucial questions to consider when forming your inner circle of friends.

What Is the Law of the Inner Circle?

The Law of the Inner Circle says those closest to the leader define the success of the leader. 

With this principle in mind, leaders must rely on prayer and God’s wisdom to select their inner circle of friends. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” Mutual strengthening and refining within a leader’s inner circle are vital for their growth and effectiveness.

David and Jonathan sharpened each other’s character through mutual loyalty, wisdom, and passion. There could have never been a King David without a godly young prince named Jonathan. They had a brotherly love for each other, and when they combined their passion for serving God, they accomplished more together than they could apart. 

When two people work together, they achieve more than they could alone. This is called synergy, which means multiplied energy. It describes how when we yoke our lives with other believers, we can do more together than we could apart. 

Your number one decision in leadership is relationship decisions. Those nearest to you will ultimately define what God can do through you and what He will do in you.

3 Questions to Answer as You Choose Your Inner Circle of Friends

The people you put nearest to you will ultimately define you. 

When considering who to include in your inner circle of friends, it is crucial to ask intentional questions so you understand their hearts. David and Jonathan’s friendship demonstrates the importance of having people in your life who share a commitment to pursuing God’s purpose. You should be able to answer these questions with an emphatic “Yes!” as you think about the characters of the people in your circle.

1 ) Do they have a heart for God?

In Psalm 1:1, David writes, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful…” 

We must ask ourselves if the people around us have a heart for God. The biblical relationship between David and Jonathan is a beautiful example of this principle.

Jonathan and David shared a heart for each other because they shared a heart for God. They pursued God’’s heart and shared a joint commitment to God’’s will and purpose. 

Your friends can define your future. If those in your inner circle of friends do not have a heart for God, they will not be good for your heart because they will not compel you toward God’s vision. Proverbs 17:17 and Psalm 1:1 reinforce the importance of surrounding yourself with people who will encourage you as you pursue God.

2 ) Do they have a heart for the vision?

Vision is about understanding a preferred future. David and Jonathan’s bond was more than a friendship. It was a covenant rooted in mutual commitment to a shared vision. They shared a vision to advance God’s kingdom, which we find spelled out in Matthew 6:33: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

You want to ensure that the people closest to you share a deep commitment to the vision you are pursuing. You need people around you who are in similar seasons of life so you can walk out your vision for seeking God together.

You might be looking for someone who shares a common vision for…

  • Family
  • Ministry
  • Marriage
  • Parenting
  • Business
  • Academic pursuits
  • Community
  • Discipleship


We need people in our lives who are living in view of eternity, not just the things of our time. That is a kingdom vision.

A group of friends standing on a bridge and looking at a map.

3 ) Do they have a heart for you?

David and Jonathan’s relationship was rooted in a shared devotion to God and each other. In 1 Samuel 18:3, they made a covenant to support and fight for each other. This binding, unbreakable covenant represented a deep, mutual commitment transcending typical friendships. They understood they could do more together than they ever could apart.

Jonathan demonstrated his dedication to David by standing in the way of his father, King Saul, who sought David’s life. He had a heart for David, even when it cost him personally. It is essential to have an inner circle of friends who are genuinely committed to your well-being.

When cultivating such relationships, remember that it requires effort and intentionality. You can’t expect profound bonds to form overnight. As you find and nurture these connections, ask yourself:

  • Do these individuals genuinely care for me? 
  • Are they willing to stand by me in both triumphs and trials?


The people in your inner circle are the people you join your life to that will take you farther and faster than you could ever get alone.


The story of David and Jonathan teaches us that having people in your life who have a heart for you is about more than surface-level friendship. It is about deep, sacrificial love and support. As you build your inner circle of friends, seek out those who share your vision and values and are willing to invest in your growth and success. This kind of relationship is a two-way street, requiring commitment, empathy, and a willingness to prioritize each other’s well-being alongside your own. Look for people who have a heart for others.