I had a friend once that I was really close with. A friend who I laughed with, cried with, told my struggles to, celebrated good times with but somewhere along the way we just kind of drifted apart. Neither one of us planned for that to happen, neither one of us wanted that to happen but it did. And we were both hurt by it in the process.
The weird thing was, there was really no real reason for this drift to happen. We didn’t have a fight, no one moved away, no life changes happened that would have caused this shift in our friendship. It was so easy for me to blame her and for her to blame me but I think looking back we can both say that we are equal parts to blame.
As I have lived and learned since that friendship, I have learned that friendship is so much more than two people getting together to hang out and sending funny texts every few days. Friendship is work because you continuously have to water that friendship for it to continue to grow.
Now looking back, I see that what our friendship lacked was the intentionality that every relationship needs to last and flourish. Neither one of us were intentional about being each others friend! All relationships need purposeful actions and words to continue to thrive.
We have all heard the saying, “If you want to have a friend, you have to BE a friend.” As corny as that may sound, it’s so true.
So how do we pursue intentional friendships? Be intentional about being a friend.
1) Pursue: I think this is one that always trips me up. I am not a natural “go-getter” of friendships. I like when other people initiate! But we are talking about intentional friendships here and to be intentional you have to pursue that person. Pick up the phone and call them. Send them a quick text to grab a coffee together to catch up.
Be the person to make the plans. So often we think that should fall on the other person, “If they want to hang out they can call me!” Be the person that calls and texts, be the person that initiates the hangout!
2) Hear: Listening is so easy, right? We listen to music. We listen to the radio. We listen to other people’s conversations (don’t lie – you eavesdrop too!). We listen to our friends. But the thing to ask is are we really hearing them?
Think of that song you hear every single day, whether if it’s playing on the radio on your way to work or playing in the background at work. I bet you can’t sing the lyrics without the actual song playing! Why is this? Because we are listening to the song but we aren’t really hearing it. So when it comes down to it we can’t repeat the words or understand what the song is about.
When we hear someone it means we are actively listening. We are focused on that one person, not distracted by other people around us or the phone buzzing in our pocket. When we hear our friends we are listening and we are trying to understand where they are coming from. When a friend says that she has been feeling lonely lately or that she’s been feeling a little depressed what do you hear? Are you just listening to the fact that she’s just going through something? Or are you hearing that she needs more encouragement from you?
Be an active listener and really hear what your friends are telling you. You might be surprised at what they truly mean!
3) Reliable: Are we reliable in our friendships? I know this is something I fall short on. My friends know that if they ever had an emergency or tragedy I would drop everything and be there for them. But the small things matter as well and it’s those things that I need to work on.
When we make plans with someone are we constantly moving plans or canceling? Or are we keeping our word and being reliable. In my group of friends we have one person who we always joke about never coming. We will make plans, they will say they’ll be there but it never fails, this person never shows up or cancels last minute.
Do our friends know that when they make plans with us they can count on us being there? Be the friend that people know they can count on!
4) Be silly: Okay so I think we all need to be silly every now and then! One of my favorite quotes says “We do not stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.” I’m a firm believer in this!
My best and deepest friendships are with friends who aren’t afraid to be silly and goof off now and then. Sometimes we don’t have to be serious all the time. Yes, authentic friendship consists of those serious and hard conversations but they also need the balance of cutting loose every now and then.
5) Be vulnerable: This one….oy. It gets me every time. Y’all I struggle with this so much and though I’m getting better, I know I still need to work on it.
If we expect to develop and cultivate friendships that last, we need to be intentional about being vulnerable. We can’t expect someone to want to open up if we aren’t willing to do the same. Be intentional about opening up and asking for prayer or advice. This is really the only way someone will open up to you in return!
When two people have been vulnerable with each other and they know they can trust each other, they create a deeper and stronger connection.
6) Be the encourager: This is so vital, y’all! I don’t mean be your friend’s cheerleader (although that’s always good too) but I mean really encourage!
If a friend is going through a trial or break up or death in the family, be intentional about looking up verses that will comfort them. When they are looking for a job, root for them, send them “good luck” texts on interview day.
Be the person that stands with them in every season of life to help push them through and celebrate with them on the other side! Always encourage them towards Christ no matter what season they are in. (Ecc 4:9-12, Hebrews 10:24)
7) Serve: I love 1 Peter 4:10 and I think it’s so important here! We each have different gifts and abilities. Use those to serve your friends!
Are you really great leading bible studies? Start one and pour into them! Are you a stickler for a clean car? Help them out by going with them to the car wash to vacuum and wash their car. Really great cook? Take them a meal on a day you know they won’t have the time or energy to cook.
There are SO many ways we can serve each other! If you don’t know how you can serve, just ask. Sounds silly and you may get a strange look at first but just ask how you can serve them this week!
8) Pray: Praying is by far the most important way to be an intentional friend. We all should be praying for our friends but to be intentional about it we need to know what they need prayer for. Write those prayers down, type them in the “notes” section of your phone so you can have it handy all throughout the day.
One of my favorite things to do is to text a friend and say, “Hey, you are on my heart today and I would love to know how I can be in prayer for you today!” Sometimes I get nothing, sometimes I get a whole list of things they need prayer for.
Praying with your friends and not just for them is so crucial as well! We must not be timid about prayer! (I’m speaking to the choir here!) Prayer is such a powerful weapon against the enemy and we should use it constantly! Be intentional about being an active prayer partner for your friends!
Being a friend is easy, but when we want to cultivate friendships that last, real and authentic friendships, we need to be more intentional about being a friend to someone.
When we live intentionally we will begin to see friendships bloom where they were superficial before. We will begin to see God move in our friendships and we will feel the security of that friendship in our lives.
So, are you ready to take your friendships to a deeper level? Will you join me in working on being intentional with your friendships? I would love to hear what things you think are important to being an intentional friend!