Are you a good friend? Many Christian teens wonder what it takes to be a good friend or how to cultivate lifelong friendships. As a Christian you are often taught the importance of working on your relationship with God, but God also asks us to develop our relationships with one another. Here are some ways that you can be a better friend:
Lose the Judgement
Friends see each other with no judgement. This does not mean that you are going to like all of your friend's choices. However, there is a way to share your opinion without being judgmental. Also, try to find out more information about why your friend is making some of those choices. It may offer you greater understanding.
Are you an honest person? Honesty is a very important trait of a good friend. Friends trust each other to help them in difficult situations. Proverbs states that "Honesty guides good people, dishonesty destroys treacherous people," (NLT). If being dishonest destroys people, it also destroys friendships.
Listening to your friend can help you grow closer. Listening is very different from hearing. You need to not only hear what the other person is saying, but you will need to offer feedback and assurance that you actually understand what your friend is saying. Nodding your head and repeating back what he or she is telling you will enhance your communication and make your friend feel better about your relationship.
Give Rather Than Take
Giving is often better than receiving. Find ways to give to your friend and expect nothing in return. Giving is more than just buying presents. You can give your time and your help. You can intercede in prayer for your friend. Offer to help with homework or cover a shift at work.
Friends need to have fun with one another. Make sure you are doing things you both like and laughing together. While it is nice to have a friend that supports you in times of trouble, if all your times are filled with strife then that is what will define your friendship. Make sure you have fun together, too.
Learn to Compromise
Everyone has different interests, likes, and dislikes, and friends do not always agree with one another. Therefore friends need to learn to compromise with one another. For instance, this week you may end up seeing that action film your friend has been dying to see (and you could care less about), and then next week he or she will compromise by seeing that popular chick flick.
Trust Your Friend
While it is important to be honest and compromise with your friend, it is also important to have trust in your friend. If you always question your friend's motives, you will never open yourself up to developing a close relationship. While trust takes time to develop, let go of your own insecurity once in a while to give your friend the benefit of the doubt.
Sometimes a friend just needs a shoulder to cry on or a cheer from the audience. Be supportive of your friends. When your friend says he or she is running for class office, be the first to volunteer your campaign services. When your friend is crying after her boyfriend broke up with her, be the shoulder for her to cry on.
Many Christian teens confuse being sympathetic with being empathetic. Being empathetic means that you are able to put yourself in the other person's shoes. When your friend needs your support, you need to try to see the situation from his or her eyes. While you may not agree or you may not have knowledge of their situation first hand, putting yourself in their shoes will help you be more supportive to your friend.
Touch is a valuable tool in growing a friendship, yet it is often overlooked. Touch is important in that it creates a bond between you and your friend. A good way to use touch is to put your hand on a friend's shoulder in support or giving your friend a hug in greeting. However, be sure you are appropriate in your touching and that you don't make a person feel uncomfortable by entering their personal space too soon in your friendship.
Share Your Feelings
Opening yourself up to another person is a part of growing your friendship. Learn to share how you feel, even if you think it will cause some confrontation. Friends need to be able to share their feelings without judgement. If you are not able to share your feelings with your friend, then you will keep the friendship from growing into a great relationship.