If you know me, you’ll know that making and keeping good friends is a top priority in how we do life.  However, I’ve noticed something slightly alarming here in the States since we’ve been back from our 12 years in the Middle East.  Many people are not good and making friends. So, how do you make a friend?

First, some misconceptions about friendship.

1. Friends don’t just appear. You don’t “just have” friends.
2.  Friends take work. They don’t come easy.
3.  A good friendship always goes two ways.

So…how do I make and keep friends?

(First, a disclaimer. I’ve done all the things that a bad friend does. I’ve used and abused friendships. I’ve ignored them. I’ve hurt and offended them. So don’t think that I think I’m a perfect friend. It’s from my mistakes mostly, that I speak).

1.  Initiate. It all starts with this. Don’t wait. If you see someone you might want to hang out with – call them. Go over. Show up.  Chris and I did this with a couple when we first moved to Lebanon. And they lived in Damascus. But we drove across the border and showed up at their house. We became best friends and they ended up moving to Beirut.

2. Keep initiating if you like them. Don’t be a pest.  Don’t bother them. And I know it’s a fine line, but just keep pursuing the friendship. Don’t give up until you can clearly see they don’t want your friendship.  (And sometimes that’s the case – but rarely).

3. Build.  Just like building anything. You have to think about it. Strategize. Take one step at a time.  Ask more questions about them and their life then you say about your own life.  Two things happens when you ask them lots of questions: you get to know them and they like you. Everyone likes to talk about themselves. We all want to be known. So ask questions. They will get around to asking you eventually….but don’t worry about that. Just get to know them.
4. Push them. Gently take them out of their comfort zone. If all they like to do is watch sports on the weekend, start by GOING to a sporting event. Then take them hiking. Then camping. Then backpacking. And then climb the Himalayas.   People don’t always know it, but they like to be challenged.
5.  Nurture and serve.  What does your friend need?  Help them find it. God?  Fun?  Another friend?  Getting in shape and eating healthy? Whatever THEY need, figure it out and help them get it.  Serve them.  Love them. Be there for them and take care of them.

Bottom line is this – if you want a friend – be a friend. The whole world needs a friend, so you should have lots of them!

(I originally wanted to write this to our three kids – and by “kids” I mean young adults – but it was too good to keep just for them).