David is the founding pastor of Restoration Church in Kentucky. He loves to see people connect God's Word to daily life.
The Desire to Connect
We all have a deep, innate desire to be connected. This goes beyond just being in the same proximity as other people. You can still be alone in a crowd. We desire to have real friendships that stand up to the ravages of time and circumstance. The trouble for us is always initiating those kinds of friendships. The secret, however, is very simple.
The secret to having good friends is to be a good friend to others. There is something attractive about a friendly person. As you become a better and better friend, you open the doors for others to respond in kind. If you are ready to start those kinds of friendships today, here are some ways you can be an outstanding friend.
1. Be Encouraging
Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. - I Thessalonians 5:11
Most people are well aware of the negatives around them. Become a positive influence on others, especially those who you call friends. It is amazing how refreshing it is to spend time with a person who builds you up instead of tearing you down with their problems. That little spark might be just what they need as they break through the mundane. Use your attitude and your choice of words to be a godly influence. Think of the people that you admire most in the world. How do they invest in you? How can you be that kind of person in the lives of your friends? People always have a special place in their lives for those who inspire them.
2. Be Involved
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. - Ephesians 2:10
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All relationships require involvement. It is impossible to develop great friendships without direct contribution. From lending a helping hand to creatively wasting time, each moment is an investment. Discover what is important to others and participate. Enjoy their company and make the most of the time you are given.
3. Be Comforting
O may Your lovingkindness comfort me, According to Your word to Your servant. - Psalm 119:76
It is easy to enjoy friendship when everything is awesome. Outstanding friends show up when the difficulties arise. Comfort springs from two things: presence and empathy. The simple act of being there in troubled times demonstrates your level of commitment to the relationship. It is far easier to avoid people when they struggle and many so-called friends will disappear when things get tough. Even if you don't have words to say or wisdom to dispense, your presence is still powerful. When friends are hurting, your empathetic presence means a lot. Don’t underestimate the power of silently sitting with a friend during their toughest seasons.
Empathy is the "if I were in your shoes" moment. We often hold others to a higher standard than we hold ourselves. Understanding the emotional context of a situation can help you become the kind of friend that brings a light into a dark place. We don't have to have all of the answers. Be slow to speak and quick to listen to those who are hurting.
4. Be Compassionate
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. - I John 4:11
For most people, this is the beginning of authentic relationships. Until someone believes that you really care, they will never open up to a deeper relationship. Compassion is an others-focused mindset. When we begin to see life through the lens of what we can offer instead of what we can get, compassion flows from us. Your concern for someone is like your signature on the relationship. It makes all of the other elements of friendship personal and significant. Start by taking a few moments each day and thinking through the needs of your friends.
5. Be Joyful
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! - Philippians 4:4
Your life is a gift from God. Don’t miss the joy that can be found in the simple things. Have a good time living a godly lifestyle and having real friends who care about you. Spend time looking at all the good things God has placed in your path. Then, express that gratefulness outward in joy. Happiness is circumstantial, but joy is steadfast through all seasons of life. Become enveloped in the joy that comes from a vibrant relationship with Christ and let it radiate outward to bless others.