Three ways to have better friendships
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At HPUMC, we call these Christian communities GroupLife. GroupLife takes on different looks and styles to help accommodate diverging needs and busy lifestyles. Nothing will bring greater joy, challenge or meaning to your life than to live abundantly as God intended. We believe GroupLife is a vital component to living that abundant life in Christ.
When is the last time you had a real conversation?
Though today we are more connected than we have ever been, we are also (at least) as lonely as we have ever been. Most of us are connected to hundreds or thousands of people online, and yet loneliness is still pervasive.
Somehow we’ve come to believe that loneliness can be remedied by being connected with others. The truth is, loneliness is remedied not by being connected to the lives of others, but by being invested in the lives of others.
Here are three simple ways you can establish and maintain deep friendships:
Date for Friends: This sounds a little weird, I know. It’s as weird to type it as it is to read it. But…hear me out. When we’re “dating” for a spouse, we spend intentional time with another person for the purpose of figuring out if this is the kind of person that we’d like to marry. Dating for friends is pretty much the same thing: we go to lunch or coffee with someone and ask ourselves, “is this the kind of person that I like spending time with and being invested in?” If the answer is “no,” move on. If the answer is “yes,” keep hanging out.
Always Ask to Hear More: What are you typically thinking about during someone else’s story? Likely, if you’re human, you’re thinking about what story you’re going to tell next. If you were being completely honest, you’d just start your story with, “Oh really? Well, listen to this…” Here’s a challenge: next time you have a friend tell you a story, work as hard as you can to keep their story going. In lulls, ask questions that clearly communicate that you want to know more. In football one of the most important statistics is Time of Possession. At the end of the conversation, your goal should be for your friend to have “possessed” the conversation for far longer than you.
Dig Deeper: Here’s a question you’ve heard before: “How are you?” How many times a day do you ask someone that question? Here’s a similar question, with a far different meaning: “How are you, really?” How many times a year do you ask someone that question? The early Methodists asked each other the same question every week when they’d get together in their small groups: “How is it with your soul.” This is just a fancy way of saying, “Really, how are you?” This one question is a key to deeper friendships and true investment in one another.
God wired us with a desire for relationships; we’re simply built that way. There is nothing wrong with liking, following, and otherwise relating with one another on a surface level. The trouble comes when we begin to believe that merely being connected with others will satisfy our desire for community. Loneliness is remedied not by being connected to the lives of others, but by being invested in the lives of others.
Jesus left the heavenly realm to be with humanity. In the same way, we have the opportunity to leave what is typical for us and truly invest in the lives of others. How? Go on a date. Ask to hear more. Dig Deeper.