5 Tips to Build Great Relationships

Life is difficult.

But what's worse than living through a hard part in life?  

Living through it alone.

The older I get the more I'm finding that life can be very difficult, but the beauty of it all is God did not create us to be alone.  He created us to live in community, first, with Him, and then with the world around us.

I'll be the first to admit, starting a friendship is hard.  Opening up is hard.  Finding like minded people who are in the same place as you is hard, but there is power in community.

We know this is God's plan for His children--to be in community with other like minded people.  There's strength in numbers.  There's hope in knowing we're not facing the enemy or the world alone.  Peter wrote this, "Stay alert!
Watch out for your great enemy, the devil.  He prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8)

When life comes against you or when the devil comes against you or when your own mind comes against you, you're going to need someone--a friend--to keep you grounded in the truth.  That friend will be the person to pull you back into the group.  That person or group of people will be the one who will pray for you.  That person will be the one to say, "I don't think you need to re-evaluate here."

I'll be the first to admit building and keeping strong, healthy relationships has not been my strongest quality.  Especially since college.  Still, I believe very strongly in the power of friendship and in the power of community.

Here's 5 tips to building great relationships.  I have to work everyday to enact these in my life or else they'll never happen.  Sometimes I get it right.  Other days I fail miserably.  The point here is to do something.

1.  Intentionally spend time with together.

Friendships rarely just happen on their own.  The must be nurtured.  That means time has to be invested.  Money has to be invested.  Heart has to be invested.

Invite a new friend to coffee or to go out to eat.  If you feel a little uncomfortable do it in a group.  Invest time in your friendship and soon you'll find it blossoming.

2.  Be vulnerable even when it hurts.

I would bet that the primary deterrent to a new budding relationship is the memory of a past friendship that blew up.  Trust me, it hurts.  Guess what.  It's going to hurt again.  People hurt people.  It's our nature.  But the past is the past.

Take a step.  Move forward.  Forgive and move on.  You'll be happier and you won't be alone.

3.  Listen...really listen.

Personality aside, it's important to hear what your new friend is saying.  Put that psychology class to work.

4.  Sacrifice yourself.

I've got a huge problem with this one.  It's probably the most difficult thing for me.

I believe passionately in EVERYTHING.  I have a strong opinion on everything.  My sister told me yesterday that even if the entire world was against me, I'd still believe what I believe.

When I'm in conflict with someone, I have the worst time letting it go.  It's not that I'm judging them.  I believe it's their choice to make.  I have a tendency to think that if people don't agree with me they don't deserve my time.

How terrible is that?!?  That is a hideous, ugly, tasty point of view, but it's one that I battle with every single day.  (I'm being vulnerable here.  Don't judge me. :))

Do the hard thing, but the correct thing, and sacrifice yourself for your friend.

5.  Pray for each other.

Whether you believe it or not, we need the support of our friends.  And we need them to pray for us.  That's just the way it is.

I love what Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, "A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a three-braided cord is not easily broken."

Pretty clear cut if you ask me...

God never intended for us to be
alone.  He wants us to primary have a relationship with Him, but He also wants us to have a relationship with His people.  He cared enough for His people to send His only Son, Jesus, to die for our sins.

Because of Christ's redemptive work of the cross, because He rose
from the grave, because or His grace and the power of the Holy Spirit we can believe that He is calling us deeper...deeper to Him and deeper with each other.

I challenge you, don't go through life alone.  Don't live by yourself.  Live life with Christ and live life with His people.  Find a small group.  Join a Bible Study.  Do SOMETHING to grow your friendships.

At my church's women's retreat last spring (read about that here & here) I ended up driving the church van.  We were quite the hodge-podge of ladies thrown together on that van, but something happened.

Driving down the road, listening to each other, learning from each other, friendships were formed and developed.

Once a month this group of ladies get together to reconnect.  Some are older.  Some are single.  Some widowed.  Some married.  Some are grandparents.  Some are childless.  But there's one thing that we are all committed too--growing in relationship with each other and growing in relationship with Christ.

Do you have any tips to growing friendships?

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