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Tuesday, April 03, 2012

How to Make Friends

If you're going to share the life of a disciple with people, you have to meet them first. The problem that I've found is I'm not very good at intentionally meeting new people. Sure I've met a lot of new people, but it has been through activities or groups that made the process easy. I was in school or at church where I was bound to meet people and then develop friendships with them, over time. But now that I'm not in school anymore I don't really have a non-church way to connect with new people.

Meeting new people takes time and intentionality. You won't accidentally meet new people if you don't work on it. It takes shared social space to meet new people. So, first, you need to find a social space that isn't threatening or closed. Then you need to find a way to share that space with other people. One of the best ways I've found to meet new people is through shared interests. It could be a Toastmasters meeting, a community choir, a woodworking club or a basketball league. Whatever your interests, you can find a way to meet people through them. But once you meet someone, that's only the beginning.

Connecting with the people that you meet narrows the number of relationships significantly. You may meet hundreds or thousands of people, but you only connect with a few of those. It might be a shared interest or a carpool or something you can't define. You'll connect with a few of the people you meet in a way that is noticeably different from the majority of the people you meet. From there you need to figure out how to make friends with them.

Friendship doesn't just happen. It may seem like it since most of our friendships weren't planned, but there is a consistent process of making friends that isn't random or mysterious. You obviously need to meet people and then connect with people, but turning the corner from connection to friendship takes time. There's no substitute for time spent together to transform an acquaintance into a connection. You need to find ways to spend time with the people with whom you develop a connection and then a friendship may sprout. Just like the way connections narrow the field of people from those you met, you will only become friends with a limited number of people with whom you develop a connection.

Remember, this process takes time. You will probably be discouraged by spending months searching for connection after you meet someone or waiting for a friendship to develop from a connection. Just keep spending time with people and genuinely loving them for who they are (no strings attached). It's not your job to convert people, your job is to love people, so do it well.

How do you develop friendships with the people you meet?

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