What’s on your bucket list? What’s in your bucket? I hope your bucket is full of friends. If there is one single predictor of your future happiness, it is the quality of friendships you enjoy.
In February and March we did a series on relationships called Life Together. Relationships are about as important as it gets. Life is full of relationships. It matters whether they are good or bad. The better your relationships (family, work, church, neighborhood), the happier your life.
There are 14 Proverbs that offer advice and commentary on friendship. See Proverbs 12:26, 17:17, 18:24, 22:24, 27:6, and 27:9 for a sampling of that advice.
1. These Four Mindsets Make for Good Friendships.*
You need profound self-awareness about your capacity for friendship. You need to be highly intentional about pursuing friendship. You need to be wisely strategic about building lasting friendships. You need to be deeply surrendered, for friendship always asks something of you.
2. First, Be a Friend.
If you want to have friends, then be a friend. To be a friend, you must value friendship, desire friendship, take initiative to have friends, and choose to be a friend.
3. Next, Be a Good Friend.
If you want good friendships, then become a good person. Become the right kind of friend. What is the right kind of friend you want to be? How about starting with: kind, thoughtful, generous, emotionally healthy, spiritually committed, and … The idea here is to “be the change.” Be the kind of friend you want to have.
4. Consider the Needs of the Other Person.
Philippians 2:1-5 may be the most important passage in the Bible with insights on friendship. The essence of that passage is to consider the needs of the other person as most important. Selfishness, ego, pride, self-centeredness – these all kill friendship. But when you put the other person first (and they put you first) you have the main ingredient for real friendship.
5. The One Another Commands Are the Substance of What Friends Do.
Click here to visit one of the very best infographics that explains the one another scriptures. Then, put them into practice.
6. Share a Common Core.
For deep and lasting friendship, the more you share in core values, a vision of what life is all about, and a biblical worldview (or theological framework), the more compatibility you will have. It is possible for good friends to be on completely different pages on values, vision, and belief, but it is not easy, and it is quite rare. The more differences on these key components of life, the more disagreement and friction you will have.
7. Build a Range of Dynamics into the Friendship.
Learn how to be spiritual friends who share their spiritual life experiences. Be missional friends who do God’s work together. Be fun friends who enjoy life together.
8. Work Through the Hard Times All Friendships Experience.
You will hurt one another. You will let each other down. You will fall short of expectations. You will disagree (and argue and maybe “fight”). You will be disappointed with your friends and you will disappoint them. That is just life, so be ready for it. Learn how to speak the truth in love. Be accountable to and for each other. Practice forgiveness. Learn how to be reconciled. It will be this process that makes for true friendship. (By the way, this same principle is really important for marriage friendship.)
I am grateful for my friends. I am blessed with wonderful colleagues and partners. And it is a surpassing joy when friends are partners and when partners are friends. That is what Jesus was describing in John 15:12-17.
What is simply staggering is that Jesus calls you his friend. You are still a servant of the Lord, but you are much more than a servant. You are his friend. You are his missional friend. You are his friend together with Jesus on his mission.
May your friendship bucket be full and overflowing!
Together with you as missional friends of Jesus,
* The Four Mindsets is a model I developed and use for leadership training and spiritual formation.
Having the ability to empower and resource leaders to bear much fruit that lasts. Being a part of a team of friends and missional servants committed to changing the world.