Christian guide to making friends and starting lasting friendships.

Creation Tips Teen Topics: Bible advice for Christian teens
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How can I make friends?

Group of friends

There is one simple rule for making friends: Be friendly! Even people you don't know will usually talk to you if you appear friendly. But you also need to show genuine interest in them if there is to be any long-term friendship.

Let's get one thing clear though — even if everyone was friendly toward you, you still wouldn't want everyone to be your close friend. The fact is, some people would drive you crazy if they were your close friends!

That's because people have:

  • different personalities
  • different interests
  • different upbringing
  • different likes and dislikes
  • different ideas about what we want our friends to be like.

Choose your friends

Two girls -- friends

Instead of thinking, “I have no friends. I want lots of friends,” try for just one or two. Most people can only handle a few close friends — from zero to three is common. If you just want a “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” because you're lonely, that means one friend, so you've made a start. How do you make a close friend? Here's one way:

Among all the Christians you know who are not your close friends, think of one who has ideas or likes and dislikes similar or closest to your own. This is the first person you should try to become close friends with. It may be someone in your youth group, church, school, sports club, or anywhere else. Now let's see how to turn this person into a friend.

Start with a brief conversation

To start, think of something you could talk to this person about, even if it's only for a minute or two. You may simply ask him or her:

  • what she or he thinks about a certain song or style of music
  • what he or she likes to do on weekends
  • what places or events she or he likes to go to.

Or maybe something has happened at your school, the place you work, or on the TV news that you could ask the person's opinion about. You only need a brief discussion to start with to break the ice. Whatever you decide, try in a friendly way to get them to talk with you and discuss it for a while. If you can find out what this person likes, you can then learn more about it yourself. You can probably get the person talking easily by asking them a few questions about it.

Keep in mind that no one likes someone who is not a close friend asking a bunch of personal questions. Try to put people at ease until they feel comfortable talking to you. Make the conversation a two-way discussion: don't do all the talking yourself, and don't expect the other person to do all the talking or answer all the questions. If it doesn't work out the first time, try again later.

Practice on others to get rid of nerves

If you feel too nervous talking to them, put it off until you feel OK about it. Meanwhile, practice your talking skills on someone you don't care about as much. This will give you valuable practice because you won't be as nervous.

After finally talking to your new potential friend, if you still think this person might make a good friend, invite them out with a group. Or see if they would like to go to a public place with you. This could be an exhibition, a sports game, a school art display, or somewhere you are out in the open. This is much less threatening than asking them over to your house straight away or asking them to the movies.

If you need to, organize a few people to go somewhere. Just say something like: “A few of us are going to the big baseball game next month — would you like to come?” You could say this to several people until you have enough. If it's an invitation to something you know the person likes, success is likely!

Brush off rejection

What is hardest about making friends for some people is that they don't know how to be friendly. Or how to brush off rejection and try again. But anyone can do it.

Three good friends

Think about people who come to this country from overseas to live. How do they make friends? Well, they take every opportunity to talk to people. They will ask for directions. They ask questions. They talk to strangers in the bus or train. They go around meeting the neighbors, join the local church, talk to sales clerks and customers in stores they visit. They do whatever they need to make friends and find out about this new country, culture, and area. Mostly they won't turn these strangers into friends, but now and then they will. Friendliness pays off if you keep working at it until it's a natural part of your personality.

What does the Bible say about friends?

The Bible says:

  • if you want friends you should be friendly (Proverbs 18:24)
  • friends provide helpful advice (Proverbs 27:9)
  • friends are valuable in a time of need (Proverbs 27:10)
  • true friends are faithful (Proverbs 17:17)
  • friends provide helpful criticism (Proverbs 27:6).

If you are a Christian looking for a friend of the opposite sex, make sure the other person is a Christian too. The Bible is clear that Christians should not tie themselves deliberately to non-Christians (2 Corinthians 6:14). The Bible gives examples of friends who came together through an interest they had in common, through love, and through sympathy. It says to avoid “friends” who try to get you to sin (Deuteronomy 13:6), and it gives many examples of true friends who helped each another.

Starting friendships

Friendships grow from small beginnings. We know of one teen, Angela, who moved to a new city with her family, and joined the local church youth group. She noticed a girl in the group, Michelle, who had beautiful hair, and said to her: “I wish I had beautiful hair like you have — mine always looks flat!”

Michelle said to Angela, “Really? I used to have that problem too, but I learned how to fix it — let me show you what to do.”

They became good friends from that moment, because Angela's comment was not empty flattery, but sincere admiration.

And that's the difference. Try to find something genuinely positive to say to the other person and it will break down barriers to starting any friendship. Follow the Bible's advice. If you want to make friends, be friendly!

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