There are many great benefits to building close friendships. Friendships enrich our lives and are good for our health! According to studies done by the Mayo Clinic, building quality and genuine friendships increase our happiness and reduce stress. Close friendships also help to improve self-confidence and self-worth, and help us cope with life challenges like illness or trauma better, because of the emotional support and resources that friends provide. Friends also encourage us to make changes to avoid unhealthy behaviors and lifestyle. These close bonds may also ward off depression and increase our sense of belonging and purpose. Genuine friendships are life changing.
Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.
Proverbs 27:9 (NIV)
So now that we know all the benefits of having friends, why do so many of us struggle to build genuine friendship? While the idea of having close friendships is attractive, actually building these types of bonds with others takes effort. I know for me personally, it can be hard to build these relationships, because it can take a back seat to other priorities like job demands, taking care of the family and the other worries and demands of daily life.
Jesus: Oh Martha, Martha, you are so anxious and concerned about a million details,  but really, only one thing matters. Mary has chosen that one thing, and I won’t take it away from her.
Luke 10:41-42 (Voice)
Building genuine relationships require making a choice to put in the time and effort to make friendships a priority. It takes effort to learn how to build genuine, not superficial friendships in the midst of our busy lives. When we are willing to put in the time and effort, the reward of the lasting friendships we build make the investment all worth it!
Here are 5 tips to building genuine friendships:
- Take an interest in others (Philippians 2:1-4)
- Be honest and vulnerable (1 John 1:5-7)
- Be willing to serve and meet a need (John 13)
- Pray for people you are trying to build friendships with (Philippians 1:3-4)
- Find a common purpose (Philippians 1:5)
There is no greater way to love than to give your life for your friends.
John 15:13 (Voice)