Spiritual Growth and Christian Living Resources

Find Your Tribe: 5 Simple Keys to Building Lasting Friendships

  • Teri Miller Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • Updated Mar 13, 2019
Find Your Tribe: 5 Simple Keys to Building Lasting Friendships

“It is not good that man should be alone.” Genesis 2:18 NKJV

I’m blessed. I’ve got an amazing tribe of people in my life. Some I’ve known for many years, and others I’m just getting to know. Please don’t let the idea of needing to have a tribe intimidate you though. I only use that term because with the invasion of social media, it seems we’ve gravitated to descriptive terms like crew, tribe, and posse to emphasize what we used to just call friends.

But whatever you call it, the need for connection is real. God created us for relationship – with Him first and foremost, and then with each other. The importance of having relationships is displayed all throughout the Bible. Adam had Eve. Moses had Aaron. David had Jonathan. Ruth had Naomi. Jesus had Peter, John and the others, and while it was obviously a priority for Him to get alone with His Father to pray, He also made time to be with the people who were closest to Him. He even instructed the disciples to journey in pairs, so they wouldn’t have to travel alone.

The people in my friend group love me and are there for me. They challenge and encourage me. They welcome me to do the same for them.

Photo Credit: ©CarliJeen.com/Instagram@carlijeen

Friendships are treasures.

Friendships are treasures.

I’ve experienced a lot with these people. We’ve attended church, raised our children, and attended funerals together. We’ve circulated money at each other’s kid’s graduation parties and weddings.

These friendships are my most prized possession, if you don’t mind me saying it that way.

At the end of my life, no one is going to talk about the furniture I decorated with, the car I drove or the jewelry I wore, although I do love my jewelry (wink). They will, however, hopefully, talk about how I have impacted their life and how they were able to add to mine.

I have encountered younger people who admire my group of friends and have commented to me about how they long for relationships like these. They lament that people don’t “do life” together like this anymore. While this is true on some level, I believe it doesn’t have to be true for everyone.

I’m optimistic. I think people are tired of scrolling and posting and are craving authentic face-to-face connection. 

Whether you’re young or not so young anymore, friendships, like a good marriage, take time and commitment. So, if you’re looking to expand your squad, here are four simple keys to help you develop a lasting circle of friends:

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1. Start small.

1. Start small.

“A man who has friends must show himself friendly, and there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24 MEV

Friendships can start in a million different ways. Start with one or two good friends. If you don’t currently have any close friends, ask the Lord to show you someone to reach out to. He will connect you to someone who is also praying the exact same prayer.  

If you wait for someone to knock on your door or invite you to lunch, you may wait a long time, but if you are willing to be friendly, others will be drawn to you. Take a moment and look around. I’ll bet there is someone you already know who would love an invitation to hang out, catch a movie or go to that church event together.

I didn’t have all of the friends I have now when I was twenty five. I remember as a young mom praying for God to bring a couple into our life that we could spend time with. A few months later we met Steve and Emily. Twenty-five-plus years later, our friendship has stood the test of time. We continue to love, laugh and cry together. They’ve moved many states away, but the bond remains and technology and determination keep us close.

Don’t despise small beginnings. Our friendship with Steve and Emily has grown to include six or seven more couples, not to mention the newer relationships my husband and I have individually, but it took time for us to establish and develop each of those relationships.

Each friendship is worth more than gold, and one strong friendship usually leads to another.

Photo Credit: ©CarliJeen.com/Instagram@carlijeen

2. Be other-focused.

2. Be other-focused.

Perspective is everything. There are two different perspectives people have when they walk into a room/gathering. Whether joining others for coffee, knocking on a door for a small group or walking into church…we are either self-focused or other-focused. 

Self-focused people are thinking about themselves. They are focused on who is greeting them, reaching out to them, speaking to them. It is difficult to ever be fully satisfied with this outlook as it is always looking for what it can get from people.

This focus will almost always end in disappointment.

Other-focused people are looking for people to greet. They are looking to meet the needs of others. They are aware of the person also looking for connection; and are willing to be the first to smile or share a kind word.

With this perspective it is difficult to feel out of place or to be hurt that others aren’t being friendly because the motive to give brings fulfillment and joy.

I realize that this perspective is not always simple; and is only possible when we are living from our true identity in Christ and are receiving the authentic love of God in our heart.

If you struggle with being self-focused and maybe a little insecure, may I suggest that before you spend too much time reaching out for companionship, you spend some quality time reaching up to God, for only He can truly satisfy.

Photo Credit: ©CarliJeen.com/Instagram@carlijeen

3. Forgive again.

3. Forgive again.

“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” Colossians 3:13

If you’ve had a friend for any length of time, you realize the importance of a good apology. People who have lasting friendships have them for a long time because they are willing to humble themselves and own their part in any disagreement or misunderstanding. And the flip side is, they are also willing to forgive.

For some crazy, blessed reason my husband and I have been able to do this well. Our friendship is honest, loyal and has a long record of apologies and the grace it takes to forgive. We try to “assume positive intent” with each other.

So, when feelings get hurt or tempers flare, we are able to give each other the benefit of the doubt, talk about the situation and listen to understand what the other person is saying.  We’ve been married for over thirty years and we still really like each other, and I believe this is one of the main reasons why.

When you understand how magnificent God’s grace and forgiveness is, you can begin to forgive others. His Spirit within you will enable you to extend grace, forgiveness, and love to others.

Photo Credit: ©CarliJeen.com/Instagram@carlijeen

4. Be devoted.

4. Be devoted.

“All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals, and to prayer.” Acts 2:42

A healthy tribe is devoted to serving the Lord, individually and when the opportunity presents itself, together. They spend time laughing, eating and worshiping together. They pray for each other often. They invest time in one another. If one person or couple in the group needs help or is sick, the others make the effort to be available and meet the needs whenever possible.

These principles apply whether you have three close friends or twenty.

My tribe is facing some serious trials right now. One of our dear friends is facing terminal cancer. I love this man like a brother. I’ve spent more time with him and his beautiful wife than I have my own brother.

Our families have worshiped the Lord together, vacationed together, celebrated birthdays together and now we are battling a life-threatening disease together. And while we are praying and believing for total healing and restoration, we are also standing beside our sweet friends in the painful shadows of this dark valley. It’s frustrating that we can’t do more for them, but we are trusting God with them, and we are committed to surrounding them with love and support.

Others of us are facing layoffs. Marriages are being tested. Several of our adult children are struggling. You get the idea. This is life in a broken world. But we have hope and faith in Jesus.

We place our lives in the loving, generous, gracious hands of God. We are not alone in this journey. We have a loving God who sees us, knows us and is waiting for relationship with us, and we have each other to remind us of these facts when we grow weary or forget.

This is the beauty of community. This is the beauty of being The Church. I’m so glad I don’t have to go it alone. I don’t want anyone else to go it alone either. 

Photo Credit: ©CarliJeen.com/Instagram@carlijeen

5. Stay open.

5. Stay open.

“God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Imagine yourself and your closest friends in a huddle with all of your arms linked together. Now imagine that you all drop arms and turn around, facing outward. You’re still standing side-by- side, doing life together, except now each of you are available to reach out to others and pull them in. This perspective has served me and my friends well. We are able to maintain relationship while growing in new ones.

It’s easy to get comfortable and play it safe when you are blessed and find one or two great friends. Our natural response can be to hold them tight and protect the dynamic from intruders. This “clique” mentality is unhealthy and will keep you from meeting and keeping new friends.

People will come and go in our lives, and some people will be there ‘til the end. Relationships change and grow, especially when we continue to grow and change. Great old friends are a treasured blessing without compare, and new friends add a fresh sound to the symphony that is our life.

Teri Miller is a writer, speaker/teacher, and counselor in training. She is passionate about helping others find healing and freedom in Jesus. She is the author of Death of a Church Lady, Confessions of Hurt, Healing & Freedom. She is the mother of three amazing children, and resides in Michigan with her handsome hubby of 30+ years. For more information regarding Teri’s book, ministry, or to contact her, visit https://terimillerministries.com/

Photo Credit: ©CarliJeen.com/Instagram@carlijeen