Making new friends is not my strong suit.
I’m an INFJ on the Myers-Briggs scale, and, if you know anything about Myers-Briggs personality psychology, you know that I’m among the rare ones who crave meaningful and lasting friendships, but cringe at the thought of making small talk upon meeting someone new. Considering that most friendships aren’t all that deep from the get-go, it’s a little rough for this introverted idealist to make new friends.
All that being said, the Lord has blessed me with a lovely little circle of friends. We study Scripture together, have Friday lunches together, and lift one another up in prayer. We make each other laugh and talk about relationships and sing our God’s praises together. To my friends reading this – you know who you are. You’re a blessing, and I’m thankful for you.
Cultivating and maintaining friendships has never been easy for me, but I have learned from experience that it is so worth the effort it takes. Read below for my five tips on how to do so.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17.
SAY “HI” FIRST
Before you can foster a deep friendship with someone, you have to talk to them.
I used to think that I’d be friends with someone if they reached out to me first…that I’d chat with them if they started the conversation…that I’d eat lunch with them if they invited me to sit with them. You get the picture. I wasn’t about to make the first move.
It turns out though that I wasn’t the only one thinking like that. A lot of people, especially introverts, spend far too long on the sidelines, desiring human connection, but unwilling to take the first step. Don’t do that. Take the first step. Say “hi” first. In the long run, both you and your friend will likely be glad you did.
STUDY SCRIPTURE TOGETHER
There is no firmer foundation on which to build relationships than the Word of God. Talking about theology with other women provides opportunities to have deep conversations, bounce ideas off one another, and be open and honest about the struggles we face with daily Christian living. So get your group together, Bibles and Moleskine notebooks in hand, order chai lattes to go around, and find a pretty spot in the Lord’s creation. When it comes to investing in friendships, there’s nothing better.
I would offer a word of caution about this point though… I’ve seen too many women start or join Bible study groups for the sole purpose of making Christian friends. The Bible is not your ticket to a better social life. Studying the Bible with your friends can absolutely strengthen and bless your relationships (that’s why I suggested it above), but that should never be your primary motivation to study the Bible. The Bible is worthy of our time and attention because it is the living and active Word of God, and He is worthy of our time and attention.
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER
As Christians, we are exhorted to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), build each other up in Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:11), and spur one another on towards love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24). Among other means, those things can be accomplished by praying for those in our lives.
Typically, my friends and I exchange prayer requests once a week. I write their requests down as they speak them and make an effort to pray for them throughout the week. I’m by no means perfect at this (read about my 2018 prayer related goal in Goals for The New Year), but I try, and it’s a comfort to know that my friends try to do the same for me.
HAVE FUN TOGETHER
It’s no secret that I think talking theology is loads of fun, but that’s not what I’ m getting at in this section. Studying Scripture together and praying for one another are important to growing Christian friendships, but so is having good old-fashioned fun. If you’re hard-pressed for ideas, take a look at the list below.
- Go hiking (bonus points if you go at sunrise).
- Make a fort out of pillows and blankets and watch your favorite movie.
- Sign up for a workout class.
- Find a daunting, but delicious looking recipe on Pinterest and attempt to make it.
- Visit a nearby art museum or botanical garden (both are a bit out of the ordinary, but definitely worth your time).
- Go to a restaurant and just order dessert.
- Get manicures and pedicures.
- Spend a day at the beach (if you live close enough to one).
- Pick one of the following: rock climbing, miniature golfing, bowling, or laser tagging.
- Get dressed up and go to a theater production.
I’ve heard it said of marriage that it’s impossible for a couple to “drift together.” They either work intentionally to strengthen their marriage or they drift apart. The same is true of friendships. Set routines, and make an effort to be consistent about investing in your relationships with other women. Maybe for your friend group that’ll look like Bible study every Thursday evening and lunch every Friday afternoon. Or maybe it’ll be Bible study on Monday and Wednesday mornings and a fun date on the first Saturday of every month. Or maybe it’ll be completely different than that. Find what works for you and your friends and do that.
So there you have it – my five tips for cultivating friendships that last! I hope you find them encouraging!
“A friend loves at all times…” Proverbs 17:17a.