At a recent Pasadena Tabernacle Band rehearsal, Jim Sparks shared a challenging devotional on the value of friendships. He read the Scripture, Mark 2:1-12. This is a story about a paralytic man whose friends believed that Jesus could heal him. At last they found a way to get their friend to Jesus by opening the roof and letting him down by ropes attached to his bed. The four men risked much to get their friend to Jesus. Jim asked the questions, “Do you have four close friends you can call when you need help? Do you have four friends you count on to be there when life’s challenges seem insurmountable?”
All humans crave intimate friendships. We all need a friend who loves us when we are unlovable. We all desire to have a friend who can be there for us during our darkest moments. Friends play a critical role in our lives. Friends determine our destiny. We become like those with whom we spend time. We copy and imitate our friends – peer pressure! The friends we chose determine the trajectory of our lives. Choose wisely. We all need a loyal, trustworthy friend. How many of us have friends who inspire us to seek God more? How many of us have, at least, four spiritual friends who can take us to Jesus when life gets tough? Better still, are you a trustworthy, loving, loyal friend?
Here are ways you can develop deep, meaningful friendships. Here is how you can be a loyal, trustworthy friend:
- Pray. Ask God to direct you to the right person. Pray. Ask God to help you be a good friend.
- Smile. To have friends, be friendly. Grumpy people are often lonely people. To develop friendships, be pleasant.
- Take the risk. Get to know someone. Step out of your shell.
- Listen. A good friend listens. Learn to listen to people. Listen not just hear. Do not just talk about yourself. Ask questions. Listen “between the lines.”
- Show up. A good friend is there for others. Celebrate with your friend. Remember and do something special on your friend’s birthday or anniversary.
- Family. A good friend becomes family. Good friends befriend the entire family. One of family members once thought my friend Robbie was part of our family. Robbie was always around for important family events.
- Understand. A good friend is sensitive. A good friend looks out for you. When no one else can understand you, your friend will. Your fiend is one person who will walk up and say, “You are not you today. What’s going on?”
- Communicate. Good friends stay in touch. These days, we can utilize various channels of communication that are available. You can keep in touch in person, by phone, handwritten letter, Facebook, Facetime, text, Skype, and so forth.
- Give gifts. When thinking of ministering to your friend – be creative and thoughtful. It does not always have to cost money.
- Rekindle your old friendships. I dare you to reach out to those uncultivated, dying friendships.
- Accountability. Keep each other accountable. Develop your relationship so much that you can speak life into each other’s life. Learn to receive encouragement and honest feedback from your friend. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Your friend is one person you can trust to watch your back, to point out your blind spots, and stand with you at all times.
Here again, are Jim Sparks’ questions: “Do you have four close friends you can call when you need help? Do you have four friends you count on to be there when life’s challenges seem insurmountable?”
To have a good friend, you need to be a good friend. What are you doing to cultivate good friendships?