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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Four Ways to Be a Great Friend

Four Ways to Be a Great FriendWhy do we whiff on building great friendships? We mess up in millions of ways. We have dozens of inch-deep friendships and sort of body surf over the crowd. Or we feel hurt and betrayed and wrap ourselves into a cocoon of isolation. Insert your “I’m really bad at friendships” scenario here.

Five great questions of life: Life * Love * Learning * Labor * Leadership

Love: Who Will I Spend My Life With?

Four Ways to Be a Great Friend

By Evan Nehring

Why do we whiff on building great friendships? We mess up in millions of ways. We have dozens of inch-deep friendships and sort of body surf over the crowd. Or we feel hurt and betrayed and wrap ourselves into a cocoon of isolation.

Insert your “I’m really bad at friendships” scenario here.

But Jesus calls us friends (John 15:15). And the Bible is full of great friendship advice, like Proverbs 18:24:
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
I really want friends who stick close, and I want to be that kind of friend. These four tips are revolutionary.

Four Ways to Be a Great Friend

Pray for them.

In Philippians 1:9-11, Paul gives an example of how to pray or intercede for someone. I break it down with this little acrostic:
  • P – People people.
  • A – Aware of what is excellent and what destroys.
  • L – Loaded with spiritual fruit.
This is one way to pray for your pals.

People people. Pray that your friends would have a deepening love for people.
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, (Philippians 1:9)
Aware of what is excellent and what destroys. Pray for purity. The word is sometimes used of pure bread dough that is unmixed with leaven. All good and no evil, that’s the goal.
…so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, (Philippians 1:10)
Loaded with spiritual fruit. When Paul talks about fruit, he’s talking about godly character in our lives. In Galatians, Paul talks about the fruit of the spirit being love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. So we pray for the fruit of righteousness and character in their lives!
…filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:11)

Be there for the major events.

Friendship is costly. I have over 1300 Facebook friends, but only a few close real friends. Being a real friend means making an effort to be there when it counts. Here are some big moments to consider showing up for:
    • Graduations
    • Newborn babies
    • Weddings
    • Accomplishments
    • Job Changes
    • Funerals
    • Loss or trauma
    • Birthdays/anniversaries
    • A new church role

Be there just to be there.

True friendship includes hanging out. There needs to be time together where there’s no great mission. Think of how the Holy Spirit fills us with zeal and accompanies us on our daring adventures. But then think of how the Holy Spirit walks quietly with us beside still waters and through the woods.

Sometimes, being a friend just means being there.

Save your memories.

There’s nothing like quality time with family and friends. Nothing. But we’ve been given this thing called memory, so those special moments can linger. Even more, we get to choose which moments we come back to and celebrate, and which moments we neglect and allow to fade.

Am I suggesting that good memories are worth savoring and painful memories are worth forgetting? Yes, I am.

And by all means, take snapshots! Share ‘em online. Print ‘em out. It’s like printing money.


So that’s my close friend formula. If you would rush out and do one of these things, which one would it be?

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  1. Hi Evan,

    Another great blog that is relevant to my current situation. I am struggling to create those really strong friendships. Approximately one year ago, Mark and I moved to a new church. While I love my new church family, making new friends has been very difficult for me. I am not a very outspoken person and I tend to withdraw into my shell, unless I make a really big effort.

    The most difficult task for me, is just being there with someone. I am learning as I go though. The nice thing about our new home church, is that we have a lot of different fellowship type get togethers that allow us to get to know one another. So, while it has been a slow pace; I am finally starting to make some friends. Now it is time to work towards a deeper relationship.

    1. The moving thing can really mess with our friendships, eh? Agreed, never underestimate the power of hanging out!

  2. Excellent topic and points, Evan! Especially the "Aware of what is excellent and what destroys" part. It's hard, as a human, to decide what is excellent and what destroys in friendships. Our natural instinct is to help ourselves, while helping others if it's convenient. This boils over into friendships, unfortunately, and without God's guidance destroyed friendships are inevitable. It takes constant self-checks, determination and prayer for friends (like you said) to make sure things are done in others' best-interests before our own...

    1. Yes, Ryan, I hate seeing a friend pay the price for the poison pill. God help us!

  3. Evan thank you for another insightful blog! I have the problem now, it never use to be a problem in meeting people. Let me actually put it this way it is more in trusting people. I sadly am the person in which is always there for another, and I use to trust to easy when it comes to friends. I am not saying not to trust your friends, that I would trust to soon or too much. I have very few people in which I would call friends. And I do not leave my place that often, so that makes it hard to met others. I do agree completely that important things to your friends should be important to you as well. Keep positive around always, is my thought. The more that you surround yourself with positive friends, the more you feel that about yourself as well. I have found over the past few years, that the people that to me had little faith in me, (the ones that would be putting bets on how long school would last or a job or something, the ones that I was the one to have the laugh from etc...) the more I distanced myself the more I had the confidence in myself. Interesting how friends have such an impact on us, if we allow them to. Which we should if it is good, and those are friends. I like how you said, all good no evil that is the goal. Sometimes it is hard, as your friend said of the self checks, determination and prayer for friends to be done for other's best-intersts before our own, prayer and faith. Not one self before the other. My dad told me once, ok a few times to let it sink in,that each person we contact in a day has feelings. That took awhile to sink in, so now that it has, I have to say I make more effort to remember that, from the guy at the store selling you the paper to your best friend. It comes much easier now, to remember that we all have feelings and sometimes we forget that with our friends. Thank you for such a great Blog Evan, another good one to think on! Thank you also for being an awesome friend! As usual you rock!

    1. "Other's best interest," from Ryan's post. Another vital part of godly friendships. 1 John 3:16 comes to mind:

      This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.

  4. Evan, another great blog. There are some really practical tips there, the most important of which is to pray for your pals.

    1. I'm so glad we can invite God into the center of our friendships and family relationships!

  5. Every one of these four is so important but I think my favorite "fun" one is making memories. Even the painful ones can have a positive influence in our lives. I believe they help to make us who we are. I guess it just depends on how we carry forgiveness or not.

  6. Be there just to be there.

    That'd be the one I'd go do right now. Funny that I just read this today because my wife got an invite this morning for us to attend a spur-of-the-moment dinner and games hanging out time. Even though I am working over 8 hours today and am competing in a tournament over an hour away tomorrow, I know that I have to put time into my friends. So I decided we should say "yes".

    We have both seen the other side where "friends" don't just spend time with you without making big plans or having a big reason. I had been so used to just hanging out in my 20's. I hope it's not a thing that as you age people want to spend less time together with friends. I don't want to feed that because I know it's not fun to receive. So I have chosen (as kind of a 'life committment')to only turn down hanging out when it's absolutely necessary. True friends are hard to come by, so I want to show that I want to be one.

    That doesn't sound too pompous, does it? Without writing an essay, I hope that the brief sentences make sense.

  7. It's really a choice we have to work through, the whole relational thing. I totally get your tension and your choice, Brian. It's not like we can do the "Friends" thing and have a great apartment downtown while working part-time at a coffee shop (how much do they pay?!) while also hanging out hours every day with pals. But it sure feels great when we can!

  8. One thing my husband and I are working out is being friends to those who really want to be friends with us. In the past, we'd invite couples over and nothing grew from it. On the other hand, I have wonderful friends that I almost overlook because they aren't a married couple just like us with kids... I have a girlfriend from India that might only be here 3 years for college but she needs me and I need her. I also deal with seniors in the choir I direct and I don't look to them as old. They are kindred spirits and I love to hangout with them. I'm kind of like the comment above. If someone invites us out, I will try very hard not to turn them down because they obviously think of us as friends and it might blossom into something lifelong.
    Heather Block