Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
By Chris WittsThursday 15 Apr 2021Morning Devotions with Chris WittsDevotionsReading Time: 5 minutes
Are you friendly to others? Do you have a friendly attitude? I spoke about it in Part 1 and I want to take it a bit further. It’s not what you say; it’s your attitude. Have you heard people say that?
The Bible in the New Testament has some good advice about being friendly: “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.“ (Philippians 2:4).
In other words, life is not just about you. It’s about others. It’s about making an effort, and getting to know others. Being friendly to them. Being open to them. Are you an open and friendly person?
Ways of being friendly
Friendliness takes getting outside of what makes me feel comfortable and doing what makes others feel liked. It’s not about me; it’s about you.
When someone says, But talking to someone I don’t know well makes me feel uncomfortable, they are accidentally admitting that they are still focused on themselves. This attitude says, I am more concerned with my need to feel comfortable than I am interested in the other person. Self-consciousness is just that, occupation with self.
Speak first. Do not wait for the other person to speak first. Friendly people are known for being the first to speak. It’s practically the definition of friendliness.
Act friendly whether you feel sincere doing it or not. It is not insincere just because we are not used to doing it. It might feel a bit strange at first because we are learning a new skill. It’s like learning how to play a new sport or how to sing. At first, it feels awkward and ‘not me’. But as we learn the skill, it becomes second nature.
Speak audibly. Ever notice how the guest who is the life of the party talks so loud? One doesn’t have to be loud or the life of the party, but one does need to be heard. If they don’t hear you speaking to them, as far as they are concerned, you haven’t spoken to them. Don’t sound ‘mousey’—speak up.
Speak in complete sentences. When someone says something to you, say something back. One word answers, like yes or no, kill a conversation. They are a signal, not that you don’t know what to say, but that you don’t want to talk. When answering a question, add an explanatory sentence or two: Yes, we went. It was excellent. The best part was…
Ask questions, when you aren’t sure what to say. What have you been doing today? What is that you are holding? Ask a question and listen.
Be a good listener. Instead of planning what you are going to say next, listen to what the other person is saying. Ask questions about what is said to gain a better understanding. When the Bible says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15), it is saying, take a genuine interest in the other person’s feelings.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15)
Don’t put yourself down. Sometimes we struggle with feelings of inadequacy. Some people will put themselves down just to get it said and over with before someone else says it. Sometimes, people are smart but don’t want others to feel that they think they are better than others. They may put themselves down in an attempt to make others perceive them as humble.
Self-put downs will accomplish neither goal. The truth is, we all have weaknesses and feelings of inadequacy. However, when we put ourselves down, it makes others feel awkward. People don’t know what to say. What could they say? If the self-put down really is a weakness, then they can’t tell you it isn’t true. If it isn’t a weakness, then do you want them to call you a liar? It signals that I am insecure and would make the high-maintenance kind of friend who has to be reassured all the time.
Carry your end of the load. Take the initiative. Call that person you’ve been thinking about. People don’t want to have to do all the ‘caretaking’ in a friendship. Having friends is about being a friend. This requires some time, thought, and effort.
If you are a young person, be friendly to adults, too. If an older person speaks to you, don’t just look at them as if they were an alien life-form—speak back. One way adults measure maturity is by your ability to carry on a brief conversation with them. When an adult speaks to you, they are signalling that they view you as a real person.
When you can carry on a competent conversation, they respect you for it. They think, What a sharp kid; he knows how to conduct himself in the adult world. Failure to converse says, No, I just look like I’m growing up. So, say, “Hi, Mr. Smith. How are you today?” If that person asks how school is going, reply with some information—”Good. I’ve got a full load this year and I’m staying busy, but, it’s been a good year.” One would do well to remember that those same adults may be needed one day as a reference for a resume or may even be the persons who will interview you for a job.
We have to work at friendships
An editorial in Decision Magazine said:
Friendships don’t just happen; they have to be cultivated—in short, we have to work at them. They are not built on just taking; they are built on giving. They are not just for the good times; they are for the bad times as well. We do not hide our needs from a true friend. Neither do we hold onto a friend only to have his help.
There is something special about having a friend that you can confide in, tell your troubles to, and share your life with. It has been said that a sorrow shared is halved, but a joy shared is doubled. Proverbs 27:10a says, “Do not forsake your friend or a friend of your family;”—you may need that friend in a day of trouble. The value of friends is one of the most important things in a person’s life.
The value of friends is one of the most important things in a person’s life.
True friendship involves a relationship. Many people say, Oh, he’s a good friend of mine, yet they never take the time to spend time with that ‘good friend’. Friendship takes time: time to get to know each other, time to build shared memories, time to invest in each other’s growth.
Honesty is always first and foremost in a relationship. Even when speaking the truth in love is difficult and painful, a true friend will lovingly confront. Jesus is our best friend for he will not fail us, but always corrects us when we need it. Freedom exists in our relationship with Jesus to be forthright; he will confront our faults as only a true friend can do. Jesus is an excellent friend.
A good friend understands and emotionally supports their companion even if their failures are the result of their stupidity and stubbornness. True friends trust in one another implicitly even when circumstances would question that loyalty.
Jesus is our best friend. He made a covenant bond with us: he will never leave us or forsake us.