The Secret to Making Friendships
By Dr. Richard J. Krejcir
Read Luke 15:1-2; Romans 12
Friendship is defined throughout Scripture as the companionship and closeness we are to have with one another. It is a commitment to build relationships by getting to know others while modeling and helping others learn the characters and precepts of God's Word. In turn, it helps us. Relationship is essential to life and is the Christian's number two priority in life. Number one is our growth in Christ! Friendship is not to be feared; rather it is to be embraced, even when it hurts!
The secret to making friends (beyond what we have talked about so far) is to be friendly! This is the key; if you want friends, you have to be a friend. If you want people to like you, you have to be likable.
This may sound so simple that why say it? Well, most people are just not friendly! This goes along with the other fruit and characters found in Scripture as well. If you want to be loved, then you must love; if you want to be cared for, you must care, and so forth. In the churches where I have been on staff over the years, most people put on the pretentious, friendly façade on Sundays; then, on Mondays, the friendliness factor is absent. As the stresses of life become rooted in them, so the Sunday smiles turn upside down on Monday. Then, they wonder why others are not friendly with them. Not only are others not friendly with them, they gossip against them because most of them are being obtuse. However, they rationalize that it is the other person's problem. Although it may be the other person, that is not the issue. They are the issue. How is your friendliness factor? You are not responsible for how others treat you; you are only responsible for how you treat others period! When we finally understand this, we will see some big changes in how others treat us in return!
Do you realize that Friendship is necessary, but not necessarily natural? People are not naturally inclined to build friendships, rather to destroy them; so, our friendships must be worked out. In doing so, we are never to take any of our relationships lightly or for granted. We need to see the power, eminence, and call that we have, so we can take what we have learned about character and love and put it into action. When this happens, we will seek to be friendly with everyone, even people who are mean and rude to us. We will be able to take the principles of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) and put them into practice, becoming peacemakers and forgivers.
Scripture also tells us what the opposite of friendship is and what happens when we fail at this vital call. Animosity and bitterness will replace the vacuum of good relationships. These rotten fruits will cause apprehension and discontentment in society as well as the church. Instead of the friendship and cooperation we could have had, we will be left with strife, gossip, backstabbing and such, causing all kinds of social breakdowns and destruction! This becomes an endless cycle that we pass on to all those around us, our children, and our children's children. That is what it means in Exodus 20:5 when it says, "the sins of the father will pass to three generations." We pass on our behaviors, habits, and mindsets, both good and bad! We have to get beyond our selfish inclinations, and focus on what God calls us to.
Do you realize that Friendship is a priority? Friendship is an essential quality for a Christian to give and take, and is so important and needed in life! If you have ever wondered what the meaning of life is, or what your purpose is, or what is needed in your life, it is building relationships; first, with Christ, then with family, and finally, with others. When we ignore this and become cut-off and distant, we are ignoring our call and responsibility in life. Yes, others will take advantage of and hurt you. What happens to you or how people may treat you are not your responsibilities. You are only responsible for how you treat others! So, be willing to extend a loving hand, and also be willing to receive one. Friendship is risky, and it is critical. So, let us be individuals who apply the characters of Christ in our everyday experiences and encounters to the best of our abilities!
With all this being said, the bottom line is, our friendships are a priority! Love is a priority, character is a priority, and our attitude is a priority. They all converge to work in the room of life. It is not enough to just believe that they are priorities; we must show to others that they are. We are to consider people over our schedules. We need to take the time to see people as more important than our "stuff" and what we do. If you are so preoccupied with other stuff in your life?even what you think is important, such as your personal goals, needs, wants, desires, school, earning money, or building your career?your relationships will erode and you may even find yourself totally alone and bitter. This does not mean we should live our lives in a coffee house; we are not to forfeit our responsibility and call in society, as school and work are important. Finding that career that we best fit in is important, but it is not the only important thing nor is it the most important thing. We are to strive to seek a balance while keeping our call, spiritual gifts, and relationships going in a biblical direction.
Sometimes, people can so over-extend themselves with so many relationships that they never develop close-knit friends. It has been my experience and observation that most people stay in groups, not in closeness, because they do not want to put any effort into it. They substitute the safety of the group for their friendships rather than the intimacy of closeness. Perhaps, they find comfort in groups. Perhaps, they only want to divulge the superficial side of themselves, and fear the depths of intimacy and vulnerability. Maybe it is the discovery of people that is fun, but not the long-term pursuit. There is nothing wrong with large groups; in fact, it is a great way to find, develop, and practice relational skills. But, it is not a place to hide from others or yourself. We need to remember that being close to a few is far more valuable than being popular to many. This is a danger to pastors as most of us are popular to many and have few, if any, close friendships. Yes, we need to be popular to many to be effective, but we cannot forget the value of closeness.
1. How would you define friendship? How do the passages define it?
2. How important is commitment? How have you been at it? How should you be? What can you do to be better at commitment?
3. Relationship is essential to life and is the Christian's number two priority in life. Why do you suppose this is true? Consider the veracity of Scripture.
4. Friendship is not to be feared, so why do we? How have your fears kept you from being a good friend to someone who needed it?
5. How can you embrace your friends better, even when they hurt you? When and how do you balance people hurting you, yet continuing your friendship with them?
6. What do you think is the secret to making friends?
7. How does being friendly help you make and keep friends?
8. How do the stresses of life keep you from effective relationships?
9. How have you rationalized that it is the other person's problem, when a friendship is ended? How often is it yours? What can you do better?
10. If you want friends, you have to be a friend and be likable. So, what can you do to make this happen?
Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." Luke 15:1-2
© 2005 R. J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org/