The Friendship Formula

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The Friendship Formula

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Before one can expect to make friends, he or she needs to see the value in having them in the first place! The old song “No Man Is an Island” is true! People need people. Those who try to prove they don’t need others set themselves up for failure or disappointment in life. If you are to make friends, you must value the need for them. The Bible uses the metaphor of the human body when talking about the closest of all friendship groups—the Church. The apostle Paul says, “And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you’ ” (1 Corinthians 12:21 1 Corinthians 12:21And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
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). The point is, we are not made to be totally independent creatures! To be successful, we really cannot go it alone. A do-it-yourself attitude leads to a lonely life that often doesn’t work very well. From the beginning, God designed human beings to be social. Adam became lonely because there was no one comparable to him—which (among other reasons!) is why God created Eve! The foundation As with any endeavor, building friendships needs to be based on the right foundation. God’s Word teaches a way of life based on being a “giver” rather than being a “taker.” In 1 Corinthians 13, the apostle Paul talks about the importance of being a “giver” in terms of showing love. In verses 4-5 Paul says, “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil.” The point is simply this—our desire to develop friendships should not be based on what we can get from an individual or relationship, but what we can give (time, an ear, encouragement, support). Helping others also has an automatic reciprocal benefit for us. Reach out Some may be reluctant to make friends because “reaching out” to others has risks. However, “reaching out” is a risk we should be willing to take. The Bible gives us principles that apply in many areas of life, including making friends. As Galatians 6:7 Galatians 6:7Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap.
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tells us, we reap what we sow—whether positively or negatively. So if we are friendly and reach out to others in kindness and goodwill, making the effort to build friendships, that’s what we will reap in return. To show others friendship, we also have to be willing to give of our time. As a formula, we could say that Kindness (K) and Time (T) lead to Friendship or K + T = Friendship! An old anonymous saying explains: “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.” Preoccupation and self-absorption will not bring fulfillment. Yet how many people spend years trying to get others interested in them rather than reaching out by showing friendliness and interest in others? There is no substitute for being friendly. Making the first move also takes the pressure off other people. Most of the time they will be relieved that someone else has started the ball rolling. Being friendly creates an environment in which friendships can develop. Learn to listen Because most people are primarily interested in themselves, they tend to have a hard time listening to others! A necessary ingredient in building friendships is being willing to sincerely listen to your friends and to concern yourself with their needs and thoughts. Be sure to also ask questions about what they are expressing to you. This shows you are genuinely interested! Listening will not only make your friends feel better (which, let’s face it, is important!), but it will also establish for you a good reputation among those who are not your friends. You’ll be known as a friendly, concerned person. These qualities attract people like a magnet. And the Bible shows us these are qualities that Jesus Christ practiced His entire life! Give your undivided attention while learning the interests, goals and aspirations of the people you meet. This may seem like a hard or unnatural thing to do, but you can start by simply making a habit of asking a few, nonprobing questions about the other person. Of course, don’t “drill” them with questions as if you were a lawyer, but realize that by asking a few questions, you will gain a good understanding of their interests and goals—the things that make them tick. Give a compliment! I’m not talking about complimenting just to try to impress someone, but giving a sincere comment of encouragement. These days, it seems that when you compliment another person, people can mistakenly think you are being insincere just to get your way. That’s not what I mean at all! God says we can do much good with well-chosen (and sincere) words. “A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!” (Proverbs 15:23 Proverbs 15:23A man has joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!
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). Commenting about how nice someone looks or about another quality you admire (without getting too personal) is a gesture that will be appreciated. Follow up If you get along well with someone, swap e-mail addresses or phone numbers and keep in touch. As always, consider whom you are developing a strong friendship with—as good friends should be trustworthy and share values similar to yours. Clearly, our best friends are going to be those with whom we share interests, including our faith and convictions. Another key point in follow-up is to actually keep doing it—even with old friends! Sometimes people “ditch” their old friends or simply forget about them when they find new individuals who seem a bit more exciting or interesting. But good, “old” friends are hard to come by, and keeping in touch by dropping them a line every now and again is a good practice. Be patient Being patient is a great quality that is often called the elusive virtue! It seems so few have it! In friendships, we should realize that as we desire God to be patient with us, we will at times need to give friends time to consider their actions. We need to be patient and not give up on people too quickly. God’s Word says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17 Proverbs 17:17A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
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). In other words, we should not allow difficult times, a strained relationship or personal problems to cause a friendship to end. Even when a friend has some personal problems and blind spots, a close friend can be in a unique position to offer humble, but meaningful, advice and direction. Be sure to read “Friends Don’t Let Friends … “. Keeping friends Overall, the human desire for friendship is easily understood. People simply want to share their lives, have someone to be with, to trust, to depend on and to genuinely listen to them. We want friends who care about our feelings and perspectives, others who will tell us the hard things without meaning to hurt us and friends who will not let time or distance stop communication. We want others who will tolerate and forgive our failings and friends who will bring pleasure to others by sharing the joy in their own lives. When you think about it—all of these things we’ve discussed are also elements of a good relationship with God. Consider this: • If you could know that God is interested in your life, your dreams and your disappointments— • If you could know that He cared about your feelings and perspectives— • If you could be assured that God would understand your needs— • If He would tell you when you are headed in a wrong direction—without ever meaning to hurt you— • If you could know that He would never let time and distance stop His interest or desire to communicate with you— If those things were true in your relationship with God—it would be of great encouragement to you, wouldn’t it? Well, the fact is, these things are all true! We see that the formula to build human friendships is similar to the relationship that God desires to have with each of us. Both are based on love and patience. So don’t forget these basic principles for making friends with others. And realize that if you understand the value of friendships, base relationships on outgoing concern, reach out in a friendly way, learn to listen, follow up and strive to be patient with others, you will make good friends and keep them. The author of this formula (God) guarantees it!