5 Keys to Making Real Friends

making friends. two toddlers as friends

College student Mark Zuckerberg never intended to change the world, but he did. In 2004, Zuckerberg and a small group of college buddies launched Facebook. It introduced and defined “social media” to the world. Almost everyone has heard of Facebook, and a majority have an account there. What Facebook gets wrong is its definition of a friend. For 5 keys to making real friends, read on.

The Facebook friendship model requires only a request and approval. Someone active on its pages may develop thousands of these friends, having never even met one of them. These are hardly friends in the traditional sense. It’s better to think of them as associates, although that may be stretching it too. Examine your own friend list. I suspect associates outnumber real friends 10 to 1.

Let’s take a deep dive into how we can develop better friends.

Stop Making Friends

J. Boehm, a professional counselor, told me that he stopped making friends long ago. Now, instead of making friends, he grows friends. I think that’s a brilliant idea.

Treat friendships like flowering plants in your garden. Plant the seed, cultivate it, and watch it grow. With time the seed becomes a beautiful flower. Yet, the flower cannot be rushed into existence. The best friends take time to grow. Two of Jesus’ closest friends were James and John. They are first introduced as “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17) but after months of Jesus’ cultivation, John becomes known as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23).

Stop declaring friends and invest in a few. You will be rewarded with the best friends possible.

Best Friends Come From The Best Seeds

I love to thumb through the plant and seed catalogs that fill the mailbox in late winter. Information presents the seeds best suited for your climate and soil. You pick seeds and plants that will flourish.

Choose your friends from the best stock. Look for high values of trustworthiness and loyalty. Seek seeds that will tell you the truth even when the truth hurts and may anger you.

“Lay down with dogs and you’ll get up with fleas” is the way old timers described bad associations. The inspired Scripture says, “bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33, NIV), and, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm”  (Proverbs 13:20)

Cultivate Powerful Relationships

LinkedIn is a specialized social media platform that promotes networking. I often receive requests to join someone’s network. Often, I have never heard of the person sending the invitation. These shallow associations are useless.

Alternatively, in-person networks can be priceless. These connections, cultivated through endless trials and shared struggles, are deep, lasting, and profound. But they didn’t come overnight. The best friends are those you’ve worked to build.

Buy Friendships with Gold

No, don’t try to buy your friends. They’ll soon be gone and you’ll soon be broke. It won’t work. But use gold, that is, the Golden Rule, to build better friendships

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them”

Matthew 7:12

The power of the Golden Rule cannot be overstated. Together with the greatest command (Love the Lord your God…) and the second command (Love your neighbor…) (Matthew 22:34-40), these compose a world-changing triad.  Today, it’s all about me, what I want and what I can get. But the Golden Rule shreds such attitudes and turns them upside down. The best friendships grow when we focus on the other person, not ourselves.

Few Are Better Than Many

Growing and cultivating real friendships requires hard work, and it requires time. You will end up with fewer friends but the ones you have will be far superior and far more satisfying. Aim for quality and depth in your friendships.

Jesus was surrounded by disciples from throughout Judea, Samaria, and Galilee, but his close friends were his Twelve. Even within the apostolic band, it seems that only three, Peter, James, and John, were the closest to our Lord. Truly, if you find only one great friend in life, you have found it all!

I hope you have many “friends” and followers on your social media pages because each one represents a soul that can be touched by your wise words and encouragements. But I pray that you will find a few real friends who will bless your life.

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