101 Ways to a Better Friendship
Friendship is costly.
Mostly, that means Time. If you don’t give your friends enough time, they’ll soon be mere acquaintances. (Except perhaps in your case, because you were both in kindergarten, Boys’ Brigade, National Service and University together – lucky you!)
But for the rest of us, any relationship - whether with work colleagues, neighbours, old school friends, or church-mates - will deteriorate for lack of time spent sustaining it. That common refrain, “We’ve got to catch up one of these days!” simply won’t do. Even after ten years, we are still getting around to it. Meanwhile, we wonder why the dynamics are no longer the same. As Virginia Woolf so poignantly said, “I have lost friends, some by death, others through sheer inability to cross the street.”
Giving time means exactly that: “Hey, what do you wanna do? Whatever! I’ve got the time. Have you the inclination?” But trying to shoehorn your friends into your hectic agenda is weak at best and selfish at worst. Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow-ripening fruit. Vintage Aristotle – good to the last drop.
Giving encouragement is another gilt-edged gift certificate, an asset that truly appreciates over time. Chuck Swindoll, in Strengthening Your Grip, wrote: “All of us need encouragement – somebody to believe in us. To reassure and reinforce us. To help us pick up the pieces and go on. To provide us with increased determination in spite of the odds.”
It may be worthy of note that the word “encouragement” itself is from the same Greek root word used for the Holy Spirit (Heb 10:25; John 14:26; John 16:7)! Just as the Parakletos is called to come alongside us, when we encourage someone else, that simply happens on the human plane.
William Barclay said: “One of the highest of duties is the duty of encouragement … It is easy to pour cold water on their enthusiasm; it is easy to discourage others. The world is full of discouragers. We have a Christian duty to encourage one another. Many a time a word of praise or thanks or appreciation or cheer has kept a man on his feet.” A friend loves at all times (Prov 17:17) and – by words, presence or gestures – raises us up a notch. I know what I’m talking about – I’ve been the beneficiary.
Friends are not blind to our imperfections. Bernard Meltzer has a funny way of saying it: “A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.” Yes, true friends can say, “If you are going to jump off a mountain, I won’t be beside you. I’ll be below… to catch you.”
And the most amazing friend of all time? Someone who says, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (Jn 15:15) Just like the Lord Jesus to put us in the best light.
And today, He stands at your door and knocks. Will you allow time for intimacy and friendship?
The doorknob is on your side!