“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”

C.S. Lewis

Deep and lasting friendships are an essential part of our quality of life.  Friendships are born from common interests, similar circumstances, proximity and more. But making friends and keeping friends are two very different skills; some of us are great at making friends and others great at keeping them. It’s an art to be effective at both. I believe one of the biggest obstacles we face in making and keeping friends is getting past ourselves long enough to be a great friend to the person next to us. Here are 5 simple ways to do that.

1. Be honest, they’ll thank you later

Have you ever been in a situation where you’re talking to your friend and they have food in their teeth? Or, on a more serious note, they are making choices in their dating relationship that are really hurting their well-being, but they don’t seem to see it? These are the moments when honesty matters.

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.

Ephesians 4:15 (NIV)

When we speak the truth in love (not in anger or irritation), we become a better friend. Sometimes we see things in others but we are too afraid to speak up for fear of our friend’s reaction. Deciding to be honest will help our friends be at their best and will make our friendship stronger. Being the friend who says you’ve got some food in your teeth or that guy isn’t right for you is being a good friend. Who knows, you could be saving your friend from an embarrassing moment or a heartbreak.

Think of 3 of your closest friends. Write down one area you could help them grow in their dating, marriage, parenting or job, and have at least one truthful conversation with a friend this week.

2. Be prayerful

 We always thank God for all of you and pray for you constantly.

1 Thessalonians 1:2 (NLT)

Real friendship is all about helping each other. You help them and they help you. Sometimes, you are in a new environment and you need a friend. We may choose to get mad, sad or envious in these situations, instead of praying and asking God for help.

Or, you may be put in a position to help a friend and the answer isn’t always simple. How often do you pray for your friends? Do you pray about their needs? Do you pray about their fears? Do you pray about their dreams and what they want to become? Prayer is amazing. It gives you insight, clarity and perspective on how to help your friends.

Decide to pray for at least 3 friends every day for a month. You’ll notice you become more aware of their needs and also you’ll begin to see God answering by doing things you couldn’t do yourself.

3. Be selfless, it’s not about you

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who  spent the majority of the time talking about themselves? It’s not usually a great experience for the person listening, especially if it happens every time you talk. Close friendships happen when we start putting ourselves aside and thinking about the other person’s interests first. Translation: Take turns talking.  This is how we make the other person feel loved by us.

What are some ways that you can put a friend’s interests before your own today?

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Philippians 2:2-4

4. Be vulnerable, it creates an instant connection

For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.

2 Corinthians 2:4(NIV)

I’m not a vulnerable person. Vulnerability scares me a great deal but I genuinely admire my friends who are vulnerable and aspire to imitate them. One of my best friends is amazing at it. Here’s a glimpse of how different we are. If you asked the question, “What did you do today?” I would say, “I went to the store to get food for dinner.” My friend would go on to tell you which way she took to the store, who she talked to, what she bought, how she was feeling when she went, who she was thinking of as she was buying certain products and so forth. This is a simple example of vulnerability but the same concept applies to the matters closest to our hearts. Being vulnerable means that we do not hold back our heart from our friends. They know our thoughts and our feelings. They know our sins, our fears, our dreams, and our life. There is no distance between us. God is the only one can give us courage to show the depth of our love for others.

What are things in your heart that you can share today that will make your friends feel close to you?

5. Have fun

So I decided it was more important to enjoy life. The best that people can do here on earth is to eat, drink, and enjoy life, because these joys will help them do the hard work God gives them here on earth.

Ecclesiastes 8:15 (NCV)

One of the easiest ways to make and keep friends is to have fun. Everyone loves to have a good time. See a movie, go out dancing, play some games, take a drive, hang at a coffee shop. Friendships are the “coffee breaks” from the grind of life.

Having a good time is just as valuable as being honest so make sure you do it. After all, they say laughter is the best medicine.

“A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.”

Bernard Meltzer

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