We are living in an increasingly isolationist time and culture in which many are finding it hard to find friends and pursue community. Things have gotten so bad that, in January of 2018, the Prime Minister of Great Britain created a new position in the nation’s government – the Minister of Loneliness. Explaining her decision, Prime Minister Theresa May said, “For far too many people, loneliness is the sad reality of modern life.”
Perhaps you can relate. Maybe you’ve experienced feelings of loneliness, a lack of community, and an overall of being left out as common for you, and you wish that you could have even just one or two really close friends whom you could trust and do life with. However, the problem is that oftentimes we are just sitting around waiting for people to pursue friendship with us. We are waiting on other people to do the work when, in reality, that is just not biblical. If we want biblical friends, we have to go about it the biblical way.
4 Principles for Pursuing Friendship Right Now
Choose to be an Initiator
We often get hung up in thinking that it is okay for us to sit around and expect for people pursuing friendship to come to us. If you think about it, that is a pretty selfish outlook and it is not a biblical expectation. Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly.” The KJV interestingly puts it this way, “A man that hath friends must show himself friendly”. In other words, the biblical teaching on friendship appears to be that in order to have friends, you have to act like a friend. You have to be friendly. Dare we say, you have to initiate friendship.
Where many people get discouraged and give up is when they have initiated friendship with someone, but that person never reciprocates. The hard truth is this: that is going to happen. Whether that person feels as if they are too busy, are going through a hard time and feel as if they can’t focus on anything new, or don’t fully realize the importance of friendship yet, sometimes people don’t take us up on our offers of friendship. We have to initiate anyway.
Invite that person over, mention meeting up for coffee or lunch somewhere, initiate a group activity, whatever it is, keep inviting. Keep initiating. Eventually, someone will take you up on your offer and be ready to pursue a friendship.
One caveat here: If someone continues to turn you down, eventually you’ll need to move on and not hound that person. Maybe they wouldn’t be a good fit for friendship for you. That’s okay! God will send someone else across your path.
Be a Good Friend
The principle of Proverbs 18:24 is much like that of the “golden rule”: “Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them” (Luke 6:31). If you want a friend, be a friend. Be friendly, warm, inviting, kind, trustworthy, and interested in the interests of others. Incorporate the teachings of the following verses, and you will be well on your way to being a wonderful friend!
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” ~Galatians 5:22-23a
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” ~Philippians 2:3-4
“Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive. Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” ~Colossians 3:12-14
Stand Up for Boundaries
One final word on friendships, and it is one I have just been learning myself: do not be an enabler, but instead practice good boundaries. If a “friend” of yours is overly critical, judgmental, “all up in your business” in an inappropriate way, a gossip, or infringing on your good graces or hospitality, it is right and appropriate for you to exercise boundaries in that friendship. Don’t enable that bad behavior. It isn’t good for you, and it isn’t good for your friend, either.
The road of friendship can be one filled with many twists, turns, potholes, and empty lanes. But pursuing friendship is worth it! God has called us to live life in community, and we would do well to view ourselves as conduits of that community.