Be A Friend to Make A Friend

God has already put friends in your life who will carry your cross with you. However sometimes you have to take a good look at yourself and examine the principles by which you live. My mom used to tell me be a friend if you want to have a friend. Friendship happens more by the principles I live than the people I meet. It doesn't mean I'll be best friends with everyone I encounter, but you do have to put principles above personalities. Let me tell you about the following principles of how to develop a lifelong friendship. It doesn't happen over night. It takes time, but it does happen and it's worth the effort.

  1. Decide what you really want. I used to be much more superficial in determining my friendships but it was because my priorities were more superficial. In college I was with friends who had a civic value system, but not much more. This was my comfort zone. When I came to know Jesus, my value system began to change and so did my friends. My friends who I met in bars didn't want to go to Bible study with me, so I made new friends. I meet many who know the Lord but compromise the quality of their friendships because they are actually compromising the quality of their relationship with God.
  2. Cultivate and nurture the women God has in your life. Make deposits in your friend's emotional bank account. Sow seeds of kindness, respect, love, understanding, and goodness into those God puts in your path. You never know where it's going to lead. Jesus said in Matthew 7:12, "Therefore whatever you desire for men to do to you, you shall also do to them."
  3. Find the Right Fit. Not everyone is going to be your best friend. Some people are in my life for different reasons whether it's school for my children, people who I work with, women at church, different activities I am involved in, or business people my husband and I see regularly. But as I plant seeds of love and kindness, some of these seeds take root and a relationship begins to grow. In Al Anon it took two years of praying before I found a sponsor who knew the Lord, held my values, and wanted to stay in her marriage. (1 Cor. 15:33 - Do not be deceived! "Evil companionships corrupts good morals.")
  4. Complement—Don't Compete—With Each Other. We are all part of the Body of Christ, given different gifts and abilities. Don't compare yourself with other women because all you're doing is judging your insides with someone else's outsides. No one knows another's heart. We have to get over living in the "Christian box." I think this has done more to hurt relationships than it has ever done to build them. Acting a certain way, wearing certain clothes, having the right friends, this sounds more like a sorority than a church! The church is full of sick people. Jesus said it's the sick who need the doctor. We need to stop meeting each other through the filter of our preconceived judgments and see each person as a child of God, created unique and worthy of courtesy and respect.
  5. Set Good Ground Rules. This means to keep healthy boundaries with each other—when and when not to call, keep conversations within the safety of confidence. If there were ever any issues, work it out with each other. Honor the unspoken boundaries of integrity and respect.
  6. Speak the Truth in Love. When someone knows you love them it's easier to be honest. Have you ever noticed that? A little note on gossip is important here. Gossip ruins relationships. When there is an issue between you and someone else, go straight to the person and speak the truth in love. No talking behind anyone's back. We need to be watching out for each other's back!
  7. Find a Need and Fill It. Seeing the need in another person lays the groundwork for mentoring. We were born needy! Whether we are conscious of them or not, we're looking to have our needs met. While there's nothing wrong with this, you have to get outside yourself and look to the needs of that person you'd like to be friends with! If you don't acknowledge the need you won't get the need met. Love others as you love yourself. Just as you see your own needs, recognize the need in someone else and fill it.
  8. Experience Mutual and Unconditional Love. The 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love is a reasonable, intentional, spiritual devotion inspired by God's love for us. It is a committed love based on an act of each person's will. You believe the best in each other; are patient and kind with each other. St. Francis of Assisi proclaimed that we go and preach the Gospel and use words if we have to. God uses people to express His love.
  9. Hold on by Letting Go. Keep your eyes on the big picture and don't sweat the small stuff. Sometimes you have to let go of the little things to hold on to the big picture. What do you really want? If my friend has done something I find offensive I may have to let go of it if I want to hold on to my friendship. Often what I felt was an offense was nothing more than my own misunderstanding. It is not what my friend did that is important. It is my response that God is concerned about. I need to bring myself to the cross, yield to God over the entire situation and accept my friend and her ways as God's will for me. When we can see God's will in our friends' ways even when we don't agree with it or like it, it takes the offense out of our hearts and restores us in right standing with both God and our friend, no matter what the outcome is! God is always looking at our heart!
  10. Let Him do What you Can't. You need to know where you end and God begins. Sometimes I hold on to something so tightly my knuckles are white. I am too afraid to let go. Colossians 1:17 says, "He is before all things, and in Him all things are held together." This enables me to loosen my grip on my way. Even when I've done all I can, there will still be times when I feel I've hit a roadblock in my relationship or my efforts aren't enough. Painting a mental picture of Jesus holding everything together helps me let Him handle my problem. 1 Corinthians 3:6 tells us only God causes that little plant to grow. Let God cause the growth. You will have many friendships on many different levels, and for different seasons in your life, but then there will be one where you see God developing a friendship that has a special purpose. And God will bring it to fruition!
Those are the ten principles. 1 John 1:7-9 says, "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Sin weighs us down. Confession in the safety of a trusted friendship lightens our load. Loving Godly friendships are the cement that hold your life in place!