The following is a guest post written by Mark DeJesus, a member of the Buzz Community – a premium community made up of writers, authors, and bloggers who help one another.
Our greatest need is to love and be loved, which flows in the context of relationships. One of the best places to process out our relational growth is in the context of healthy friendships.
Yet I find that in the scores of people I coach and help in personal struggles, one of the biggest areas they face is relational loneliness. They express disappointment in the lack of friends or quality friendships around them.
Learning to grow in friendship is a critical skill to develop. Our effectiveness, health and fruitfulness can all be deeply affected by how we process these relationships. So what can we do to move to the next level in finding quality friends? Here are six things to keep in mind:
1. Be a friend first
We have to move from “finding friends” to simply “being a friend.” I love the wisdom found in Scripture “a man who has friends must himself be friendly” (Proverbs 18:24 NKJV). We make the mistake of trying to find someone who can be our friend, rather than positioning ourselves to be a friend to people around us. Because of our longing for connection, we can make the mistake of looking inward, hoping someone will come and fill that need, when in reality, the solution to our pain is to look out and extend love to others.
2. Be giving
Today’s generation focuses too much on what they are getting and not getting in their relationships. We often keep score too much, rather than just flowing from a place of giving love out.
I work with helping a lot of people overcome emotional brokenness in their life. One of the most redeeming ways to do this is to give out to others what you were not given. The Bible says, “do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12 NIV) For most people, the answer to that lies in a place of past brokenness. What would we want done to you? Usually the things that were not done growing up that we needed. Those areas become sensitive places in our hearts.
So therefore, give out what you wish you were given. If you were ignored growing up, then pay special attention to others, knowing this is important. If you were spoken to harshly in life, use your words to breathe life into others. Turn the tables on your brokenness and give to others what was not given to you.
3. Be realistic
I have found that if you have one or two great friends in life that you can count on, then count yourself blessed. People come to me with unrealistic expectations about how many deep, quality friendships they should have. Meanwhile, they look around and think everyone has amazing relationships. When in reality, those people have many of the same struggles as you do.
The best friendships move organically, not forced. They take time. The investment is always worth it, but we have to be patient to let the friendship take shape. Don’t rush into being completely vulnerable in the beginning. Take steps to open up your heart and give the other person the chance to do the same. Give time for trust to develop, for once trust is forged, you have a long term relationship that can go the distance.
5. Be low maintenance
If a potential friend has to watch every word they say or call you all the time, then you may be a high maintenance friend. Most people who could be great friends to you have very full lives of responsibilities. They need the space to process out their own life. Just knowing they have someone they can count on will mean so much.
This also involves having a heart that is not so easily offendable. If everything people say or don’t say gets you knotted up, then your easily offendable heart won’t last in friendships. You will jump from person to person, blaming everyone for your loneliness. But someone who is willing to overlook offenses has the ability to develop strong friendships in life.
6. Be memorable
When you are around people, leave a deposit of love so that you help make them feel good about themselves. Frederick Collins said, “There are two types of people – those who come into a room and say, ‘Well, here I am,’ and those who come in and say, ‘There you are.’”
When you leave a mark on people’s lives, they will never forget out. In that, God will open up relational opportunities that will fulfill the desires of your heart.
Mark DeJesus is a full time author, teacher and radio host who passionately equips people to experience inside out transformation. He lives in Connecticut with his family and blogs at markdejesus.com.
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