Why is Friendship Important?
By Dr. Richard J. Krejcir
Read John 13:34-35; 15:13-17
Have you ever wondered why certain people have all the friends, while others--perhaps even you--seem to have few to none? Have you wondered why some people succeed in business and finance even though they seem to have no skills or abilities to contribute effectively to their profession? I have struggled with this most of my life. The common factors most people look for are in the wealth and looks department; but, if you take an honest look at successful people, rarely do looks or wealth come into play. Even intelligence, education, and who their parents are do not seem to be major factors. Yes, these factors will help you, as a degree from Harvard is far better than one from the local community college; or, being from the Hamptons is a 玓leg up玔 from being from the inner-city. However, even those things will not sustain you. They may open a door, but they will not keep it open. There is something else lurking under the surface that pushed them up the food chain of relationship success.
What is the key that makes one person successful in life and another not, even though both have the same level of intelligence, education, and upbringing? The key is the ability to make friends! Networking relationships will move a person over the top as compared to the person who does not make friends well!
Friendship is the springboard to success, both in the business world and in the church. It is what invites evangelism and what propels success in general. It will build intimacy in the bedroom of marriage, and create vision and harmony in the boardroom of business. It is the quintessential element in relationship building as it encompasses character and spiritual maturity, and puts into application what God is doing in our lives. It will keep the relationship alive and headed in a positive direction for the parent and the child, the coworkers (with one another as well as with the boss), the husband and the wife, the police and the community-even the government and the people. It puts love into action and the church into the community. The question we all have to ask ourselves is whether or not the character of friendship is working in us. It is my prayer we can work through these issues and become friend-builders together.
You may be thinking, I am an introvert, or, I do not like to go up to people and initiate conversations, let alone friendships; do not be dismayed. Some people are just wired differently. You may not be inclined to do so; we all have various gifts and abilities as well as different personalities. Even if you are extremely shy, there are a few things you can do to improve your friendship factor. Some of the most successful people in business and politics either have been or are shy--including Bill Gates and Abraham Lincoln. I, myself, tend to be naturally shy and an introvert, even though I always test as an extrovert on personality tests. Why? Because, I was forced in my profession as a pastor to learn how to make friends and initiate conversations even when I did not want to, nor was naturally equipped to do so. You can learn, as I had to, some basic relational skills. But, that does not mean you can change who you are. We are not to be someone or something that we are not. I wanted to grow from being shy to being more outgoing. So, I set out in search of how to do that. After pretending to be someone other than who I really was around others, I learned a valuable lesson; I needed to be real. The best gift we can give another person is the honesty of who we are. That is, we are not to be pretentious or fake in any way. I also learned some skills, which I will pass on to you, that helped me be more of a "go-getter," one who would lift others up, even though I would rather be home reading a book or watching TV. As a result, I learned that relationships are far more fun than books or watching TV!
Have you ever wondered how important effective communication is? A lot of people think, I do not need to know how to communicate or relate because I already know how naturally. So, when the pastor or counselor suggests to someone that he or she could use some communication skills, many people, including Christians, are turned off by the request. Yet, the fact is, few people really do know how to communicate! Still not sure? Then, take a look at all the relationships you have had throughout your life. How many of those have grown and lasted? If you say two or three, you are far, far ahead of most people! The sad fact is that few people, even pastors, have close, lasting friends. Even fewer of us are influencers in the community. Why? Because few of us know how, and we are too prideful to admit it.
Instead of developing good communication and relational skills, we develop bad habits, and then rationalize them as good and OK. All too often, we insert what we think instead of what we can learn from God's Word. Thus, we remain in our predicaments, wondering why nobody likes us, why everybody hates us. So, we go into our rooms and shut the door on the world. We have to be willing to see how valuable and important a friendship is. Friends are essential in all that we do玆in school, at work, in the church, (especially in evangelism) and in building a relationship with a spouse.
Building relationships is like sharing the Gospel; it is not about what you say, it is about who you are. It is letting people read you as a person rather than just hearing what you say. John 13:34-35 and 15:13-17 gives us a template on the importance and value of friendships. Jesus, Himself, gives it the greatest validation by calling us His friends!
Friendship is operated on the principle of love. This is where the rubber of character meets the road of life! The aspects of love, character, and attitude combine to build us in His image. The bricks, made of godly character, are laid with the mortar of the Spirit and used to build His house and church of love. These characteristics are what make us friendly, and how we are to be known玆by what Christ does with us and calls us to. Character indeed counts, and it is the loudest broadcaster of what we are! So, what is your character proclaiming about you?
1. How would you define relationship success? What would your life look like with it?
2. How have you struggled with friendships, either making or keeping them?
3. How important is the fact that Jesus Himself calls you His friend? How can this actuality motivate you to pursue more effective and meaningful friendships?
4. Why do you think certain people have all the friends, while others--perhaps even you--seem to have few to none?
5. Have you ever wondered how important effective communication is?
6. What factor do you think wealth, looks, intelligence, or education contribute to making and keeping friendships?
7. What do you think is the key that makes one person successful in life and another not, even though both have the same level of intelligence, education, and upbringing?
8. How does the ability to develop good friendships invite intimacy in the bedroom of marriage, and/or create vision and harmony in the church? What about how it facilitates evangelism?
9. Do you thing that the ability to make good friendships is the springboard to success, both in the business world and in the church? How so? What can you do to be better at making friendships?
10. What can your church do to better model and develop friendships within the church?
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. John 15:12-15
© 2005 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D., Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org/