My boys informed me on the van ride back home from American Donuts in Pineville that we don’t just go there because the donuts are the best in town. (That’s a given fact which we established a couple of years ago.) Alex said we also go there because the people who own it (and work it) are so kind. The boys are right. It’s a sweet shop in more than one sense of the word. Rose is one of the sweetest people you could meet. In fact, whenever one or more of the family are not there when we get donuts, she always asks about them. She always wants to know how we are all doing and what we’re up to that day.
Rose is a great friend because… she’s INTERESTED.
Paul writes to his friends who lived in Philippi who were trying to follow and live like Jesus, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”
That’s great advice to people like me who want to be a great friend because it’s far too easy for me to get wrapped up in my own life, my own challenges, my own issues, my own blessings… and forget that other people have a life, too. It’s not that I don’t care… It’s just that I often don’t show it enough. Someone asks me how my day is going or what’s new with me, and off I launch into a monologue about my wins or my woes. And before I know it, the “conversation” is over, but I haven’t shown interest in them or how they’re doing. I want to know how they are, but I take too much time on myself and miss out on being interested in them.
You know, some people start a conversation because they want you to ask about them. A great friend starts a conversation to find out about the other person, and keeps working to turn that conversation back around to the other person.
Jesus was the master of being interested in others. He was always stopping for someone. He was always doing something that expressed interest… care… concern. He would touch a leper who had not felt the tender, loving touch of another human in years. He would have a conversation with someone most people tried to avoid. He would heal until the entire crowd of needy people had been transformed. He fed thousands with only a handful of food when He knew that the people were hungry. He would engage a late-night seeker of truth and meet him where he was at on the journey.
Jesus was friend-focused.
Just Keeps Coming Back
What’s odd about the concept of making sure we express interest and concern for others in our attempts to be great friends to them is that it backfires… it boomerangs… it comes back to us. The more interested we become in others, the more interested they find themselves in us. The more we try to keep the conversation focused on them, the more they want to know how we are. That good friend vibe echoes right back to us. We give and yet have so much returned to us emotionally and relationally that we stay charged up… and able to continue expressing interest and concern to others.
What if – starting today and going for 3 days straight – we did everything we could to be interested in others more than ourselves? What if we were like Rose? What if we were like Paul? What if we were like Jesus? What if we just put the other person’s interest ahead of our own? I’m convinced our friendships would be transformed… our marriages would be transformed… our parent-child relationships would be transformed… our workplace relationships would be transformed… our friendships would be transformed.
I am on a quest… and not just this week… to be a great friend. I may not always succeed, but that won’t keep my from getting up, dusting myself off and trying again. So what do you say… Let’s choose today to be great friends and be interested in others!
You’ll be excited to know that tomorrow will feature a guest blog writer… a guy who has been my friend for nearly 13 years… a guy who is the epitome of a great friend. Who is he? Come back tomorrow and find out!