SIX STEPS TO A LASTING FRIENDSHIP
1. BE A FRIEND. It takes initiative to offer proof of your friendship. Jesus said: “Practice giving, and people will give to you.” (Luke 6:38) A word of encouragement or a helping hand may be the seed from which a great friendship will grow. American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “The only way to have a friend is to be one.”
2. MAKE TIME TO CULTIVATE A FRIENDSHIP. Most people desire the benefits of friendship. Yet, they are too busy to invest the necessary time. Remember, friendship, like a flowering plant, needs to be watered and nurtured for it to blossom—and that takes time.
3. PAY ATTENTION WHEN OTHERS TALK. Good, attentive listeners often find it easier to have friends. “Every man must be swift about hearing, slow about speaking,” says the disciple James. (James 1:19) When you converse with others, show personal interest in their feelings. Encourage them to talk about themselves. Then they will want to be with you. Conversely, if you monopolize every conversation, or constantly put yourself in the limelight, you will have a hard time finding someone who is ready to listen or who cares about your feelings and needs.
4. BE FORGIVING. A true friend is quick to overlook minor failings. To illustrate: Some do not like eating raspberries because of their little seeds. Those who enjoy this fruit, however, do not notice the seeds. True friends are loved for their fine qualities; their minor faults are overlooked. Those who learn to be forgiving keep their friends.
5. RESPECT THE PRIVACY OF OTHERS. Everyone needs some privacy, including your friends. Proverbs 25:17 wisely observes: “Make your foot rare at the house of your fellowman, that he may not have his sufficiency of you and certainly hate you.” Hence, be reasonable about the frequency and length of visits with friends. Avoid possessiveness, which can lead to jealousy. Use good judgment when expressing personal tastes and opinions on matters. This contributes to a refreshing and welcome friendship.
6. BE GENEROUS. Friendships are cultivated through generosity. For instance, share encouraging words with others. Be free with sincere commendation and upbuilding speech. When you show genuine interest in the well-being of others, they are drawn to you. Think about what you can do for them instead of focusing on what they can do for you.