You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.
Every friend you have today was once a stranger who crossed your path. Friendships begin in simple moments offered by a warm smile, a gentle word, or a kind act. They open the way for us to discover the treasures God has placed around us.
Greet one another [2 Corinthians 13:12 a] and offer hospitality to one another (1 Peter 4:9 a).
Greetings are often just a social courtesy:
- How are you?
- Good to see you!
- How is it going?
We do not expect them, nor take the time, for someone to take us seriously and launch into a detailed conversation, especially with a stranger. We have overlooked the importance of greetings and that is why most churches have a Greeters Ministry. Church greeters are trained to:
- Smile warmly
- Shake hands with just the right firmness
- Know where everything is located
Where relationships Begin
Most relationships begin with a simple greeting offered sincerely. It can begin a conversation, which in turn can start a friendship that can powerfully affect both lives. We can begin to take the focus off of ourselves and put it on others by:
- Giving a sincere greeting
- Listening for their response
You will be amazed at some of the reactions you will get and how quickly the door can open to a new friendship
A Greeting that Changed a Life
A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give Me a drink." (John 4:7 KJV)
Jesus “broke the social rules” by speaking to a woman and a Samaritan in public. The interest Jesus shows her resulted in many of her town believing in Him.
Now many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the report of the woman who testified, “He told me everything I ever did.” (John 4:39)
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?
So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, (Acts 2:46 NKJ)
The early church flourished in the homes of believers! The home provides the perfect setting for relationships to get beyond the superficial and head into deeper waters. Friendships begin and take hold in such environments where we have the time to explore one another’s lives.
Unfortunately, dinner fellowship has become rare in the Body of Christ. We shy away from hospitality because we mistakenly think our homes must be spotless and the meal scrumptious. We are missing the whole point! We are not trying to impress people but to be real.
If we do not break away from the need to put on our best face (a mask) we will never develop genuine relationships. Just realize everything does not have to be perfect. We can order pizza, throw hot dogs on the grill, or make sandwiches. What is important is unhurried time together to let people into our lives without partiality (James 2:1-4).
Spending significant time together opens the door to deeper relationships. Overnight visits allow for getting to know one another much better. One weekend living together with a few people can advance small group relationships four to six months. Sociologists tell us that it takes three interpersonal contacts a week for a relationship to grow.
Leaving Room in the Margins
If we desire to live a life of one anothering then we will have to tackle our struggles with time. We need to have some margin in our daily schedule. Some discretionary time for an unexpected crisis or opportunity. Realize, opportunities for deepening friendships often come in unanticipated moments. We may be missing a lot of one anothering moments simply because we are too busy to engage others meaningfully.
Do not think of one anothering as one more thing to do! Prayerfully take a look at how busy you are. Remember that you do not have to meet the needs of everybody around you (freedom from expectations!). We do not have to invite the whole city over at once – just invite those you meet one at a time (remember how to eat an elephant… one bite at a time!). Look for ways to add people to the things you already do (i.e., hobbies, errand running, household projects, and other activities).
You Never Know…
While we may not often meet an angel you will be surprised at how much you are blessed by those you meet when you live to bless others! (Hebrews 13:2). Take a look around you and see where you can be hospitable. Clear your schedule and invite a friend or somebody you may not know well over for food. The beginning of a priceless friendship is that easy! (2)
Authentic Relationships Series:
- Authentic Relationships: Introduction
- Authentic Relationships: Loving One Another
- Authentic Relationships: Forgiving, Accepting and Bearing with One Another
- Authentic Relationships: Being Devoted to Another and Honoring Another Above Ourselves
- Authentic Relationships: Greeting and Being Hospitable to One Another
- Authentic Relationships: Being Kind, Compassionate and Sharing with One Another
- Authentic Relationships: Serving, Carrying Burdens and Building Up One Another
- Authentic Relationships: Instructing and Admonishing One Another
- Authentic Relationships: Praying for One Another
- Authentic Relationships: Confessing Your Sins to and Being of the Same Mind Toward One Another
- Authentic Relationships: Submitting to One Another
(1) Left-click on the underlined phrase to open another article in a different tab with more explanation.
(2) This blog adapted from Authentic Relationships: Discover the lost art of “One Anothering” by Wayne Jacobsen (http://www.lifestream.org) and Clay Jacobsen. ISBN-13: 978-0801064517
(3) See attached PowerPoint that can be used to lead a class through this study.