You can't develop a friendship without, at some point, engaging in friendly behavior. Simple gestures including a smile, small talk and sitting with someone doesn't make you a friend, but rather provides companionship and a spark of godly love. God grows friendships. This growth requires our willingness to be used, to be selfless, to trust him and be patient.
As a God-sent friend:
When recently asking women about the difficulty of making and keeping close friendships, an overwhelming number shared their feelings of being an outsider in their community and church. Having been raised in another another town, another church or no church at all, they mentioned not fitting in. “Roots run deep”, as one lady said.
Another remarked that she was shy, and two others that they're awkward. These women still desire close friendships.
With our hearts tuned by God, may we make effort to engage (more than once, and not just in church) with those who are:
Newcomers to the area
Newcomers to the faith
Good chemistry makes being friendly easy. Proximity helps too. We typically easily interact with those like us and beside us. Intentionality requires that we get up and move sometime; sitting beside the woman in the back row in church. Instead of talking to the lady from your bible study at a baby shower, befriend the unchurched lady at the table who just spilled her punch. Make use of texting and social media. Most weeks I try to send at least five messages to ladies
Who are in a tough season
I don't know well
Who I haven't seen in awhile
Invite someone to lunch or dessert... and then go. There are probably two dozen women I've mentioned meeting for lunch, but failed to make it happen.
James and Timothy remind us to pray for one another. Prayer eliminates time constraints and the inconvenience that interferes with friendly endeavors. We’re immediate in telling people we’ll pray for them, but do we always? Prayer is the one thing we have no excuse for not doing.
I’m guilty of short-terming my commitment to friendship. With too many places appointments, and responsibilities, contact made in genuine care becomes a check on a list. And then it's off to someone else I need to engage with. Stick with your effort.
In our desire to have a close friend, we'd do well to remember to
Some of the dearest friends I've had were nothing like me and nowhere near close my age. Be willing to be a mentor. Look for a guiding companion and prayer partner. Mentoring is a high form of friendship. Maintain old friendships in spite of miles of distance.
Seek hearts that understand yours
Though you're all busy in your own place in church, attempt (and attempt again) to connect with other staff wives in your church. Seek out other pastor’s wives. Through annual church meetings and social media, I’ve made meaningful friendships with pastor's wives I've only seen once or twice, a few I've never met.
Pray for a good friend.
Trust in the Lord and do good... Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
May God show us those who need a friend. May we trust God to place the right people in our lives, as he sees and knows our every need. May the lonely and friendless caverns in our hearts point us to him, for he has called us friend.
Kristi Burden and her husband, Jason, currently reside with their three children in Nederland, TX, where they serve at First Baptist Church. She's a professional pillow fluffer, a Dr Pepper and Facebook junkie and a collector of unexpected beauty. She's so grateful for grace that she wants to share it.