“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” (Eccl. 4:9-10)
Friendship is a word that is easily understood, but making friends is a more difficult task. Everyone wants friends. Human beings were created as relational beings. We need a companion. Adam was not complete until he had Eve. Marriage should be a friendship between equals, but friendship does not stop at marriage. We need Christian friends. Women need female friends, and men need male friends. Christian companions help us to be better Christians. It is impossible to do Christianity all by yourself. God has called us to live in community. He has called us to make friends.
Many of the great stories of the Bible are stories about friends. There are Ruth and Naomi, David and Jonathan, Jesus and Peter, Barnabas and Paul, Paul and Timothy, and many others. The story of the gospel is often a story told through the lives of friends. Friendship is necessary, but the question most people want to know is “How does one go about making friends?” Here are six keys to making friends and maintaining friendships.
1. A common bond is necessary
Friends must share something in common. The more you have in common with another person, the easier it is to create a lasting friendship. For Christians, there is already a bond present. We are all followers of Jesus Christ, and we are traveling along the same path. This bond should be stronger than all others, but if there are other bonds or things you share in common this is great also.
“Friendship must be about something…Those who have nothing can share nothing; those who are going nowhere can have no fellow travelers.” C.S. Lewis
2. Developing a friendship takes time
It does not happen overnight. You must give it time to grow and develop. Do not set out to make friends and expect to have a close set of companions by the end of the month. Friendship consists of getting to know one another. It is a slow unveiling of our self to another human being. It involves vulnerability and trust. We do not reveal everything there is to know about us at the first meeting. This would scare people away. We must allow time when it comes to making friends and developing friendships.
“Few delights can equal the mere presence of one whom we trust utterly.” George MacDonald
3. You must be willing to take the first step
If you simply wait for friends to come your way, then you will be a very lonely person. You must take the initiative upon yourself to create friendships with others. This means you will need to invite people to dinner or lunch, and ask them to participate in activities you both enjoy. Most people enjoy receiving an invitation. Potential friendships are all around you if you are willing to take the first step. Creating and developing friendships demands work on your behalf, but the reward is well worth it.
“The only way to have a friend is to be one.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
4. If you want friends, then you must be a good friend
There are some people who are an immediate turn-off to others. They are too negative. They are embarrassing. They only talk about themselves. They are obsessed with one thing, and that’s all they want to discuss. If you are one of these people, then you are going to have a difficult time making friends. It can even be unhealthy to spend a lot of time around certain people. It is not wise to make friends with people who are going to hurt you or cause you much pain. You can be acquainted with these people, and you can strive to help them, but it is better to wait until they start to change their behavior before you become close friends.
“Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man.” (Prov. 22:24)
5. Friendship consists of giving and receiving
If all you do is receive and never give, then your friendships will not last. You cannot continuously burden a friend with complaints, requests, etc. and expect to stay friends. A healthy friendship involves giving yourself to another. It is about thinking of others more highly than yourself. At the heart of true and lasting friendship is self-sacrifice. A healthy friendship is one where two people are always giving themselves to the other and constantly receiving from the other in return. This continuous cycle of love is always present and never dies between friends.
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
6. Friendship is built on trust and honesty
A friend is a constant companion in your life. They are there through thick and thin. They will never abandon or leave you. A friend is also someone who always tells the truth, even when the truth stings. If you want to develop meaningful friendships, then you must be a trustworthy and honest person. You must act in a way where your friends feel comfortable opening up to you and sharing their most intimate secrets. This will not happen if they feel you will share this information with others or use it against them. There is a great responsibility in friendship.
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Prov. 17:17)
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” (Prov. 27:6)
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