Two men were on a hunting expedition. One morning as they were breaking camp, they saw a Grizzly bear in the distance. Standing erect, the bear seemed to be nine feet tall. The bear caught the smell of the men and began to charge their camp. One of the men was franticly attempting to put on his tennis shoes. His friend looked at him and said, “What are you doing? You can not out run a bear.” The friend replied, “I don’t have to out run the bear. I just have to out run you.”
This is hardly the type of friend that anyone would choose. Instead, most people would like a friend that would reflect the following words: “Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts, nor measure words, but to pour them all out just as they are, chaff and grain together knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.” (George Eliot, quoted in Today in the Word, July, 1989, p. 28) This kind of friendship does not happen automatically. It must be cultivated. Here are some characteristics that we can develop that will help us to build lasting, strong friendships.
One, we must understand the need for commitment in any relationship. Fair weather relationships do not hold up to the test of time. Storms will come to all relationships and they will not stand without commitment. Two, we must learn to be considerate in our dealing with people. We can not expect them to respect our feelings, if we do not respect theirs. We should never presume upon the friendship or take advantage of their like for us. Three, we need to learn the importance of confidentiality. We all need someone to which we can talk about our real feelings. We are not going to talk to someone who can not keep a confidence, nor should we expect someone to talk to us, if we have not proven to be reliable in this area. Four, we need to be constructive in any criticism that we give. A true friend will bring to the attention of his/her friend a blind spot that the friend may not see. It will always be done to buildup and to help. It will always be done in private and never in public. Five, we need to be consistent. It should not be predicated on how we feel at any given time. It should be built upon our commitment to the individual.
While acquaintances are a dime a dozen, true friendship is costly. It requires effort on our part. We must be willing to pay the cost of being a friend, if we are to expect to have a friend who will always be there. Yes, lasting friendship is costly, but it is worth the cost