By Pastor Timothy Neptune
In last month’s article we talked about the importance of investing in our relationships with our friends. In this article I want to share with you four steps to building and maintaining healthy friendships.
The first step is to realize that you really do NEED friends.
Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived said, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Prov. 27:17
That means that we make each other better. It seems pretty important to God that we have good friendships. The Bible is full of examples of this.
Think about the amazing friendship of Jonathan and David. Jonathan warned David that his life was in danger at the hands of Jonathan’s own father, King Saul.
This warning allowed David to take action and avoid harm, and ultimately this act of true friendship allowed David to take the throne.
Friends look out for each other. They should have each other’s back. Your friends are the ones who will be there for you when everything in your life is falling apart.
The second step is to be friendly and willing to meet new people. The Bible says, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly…” Prov. 18:24
Put a smile on your face, stick out your hand and meet new people. Opportunities abound for making new friends if you are willing to actively pursue new relationships. Get involved in a local church, join a social organization, volunteer at the local schools or another non-profit organization. These are all great ways to meet new people and do good in the community at the same time.
The third step to building relationships is to make yourself vulnerable even at the risk being rejected. The reality is that not everyone is going to like you. And, you are not going to like everyone.
Look for people with similar interests or a common background. If you don’t connect with someone, just move on. You will certainly find several good friends if you keep working towards making friends.
You will find the fourth step most helpful if you make it a natural part of your life: put other’s needs ahead of your own. The Bible says it like this:
3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Phil. 2:3-4
Have you ever met people who want you to listen to all of the details about their life but then they never bother to ask about yours? Be interested in other people. In humility, don’t try to “one up” their stories. Just listen, smile, and ask genuine questions. Get to know them.
If you want to make friends, get interested in other people. Discover their story. Dale Carnegie writes, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
You might find it helpful to evaluate how you talk with other people. Are you genuinely interested in others or does every conversation revolve around you? Do you make yourself the hero of every story? Do find it necessary to talk about your successes and achievements? Are you trying to impress people or relate to people?
If you really want to make friends, get interested in other people. Learn about them. Listen to their stories and ask questions. If you listen and genuinely care about others, you’ll have more friends than you can handle in a short time.
Tim Neptune is the lead pastor of Venture Church in Naples, Florida. Venture Church meets on the campus of FSW State College on Lely Cultural Blvd. in East Naples. For times and directions, visit www.venturenaples.com.