Everything I know about serving people, specifically in serving my friends comes from failing miserably. I say that because I am not naturally one who acts selflessly or sacrificially. I am not the type that invests in people very easily. But in my failure I have been met with the most amazing amount of grace from friends who image Christ to me in both word and deed.
Being someone who has spent a majority of my adult life as a single person, I have become immensely thankful for the friends in my life who have chosen to serve me knowing that I often go home to an empty house, don’t have a spouse to remind me to stop working past 2am or have kids to cuddle with me on the bad days.
My friendships are the reason I do not feel any void, discontentment, or loneliness and every reason why I feel loved, valuable, and noticed. They show up, for the celebrations and the mourning. They say the helpful thing even when it is the hard thing, and they use their gifts sacrificially to remind me that I do not go unnoticed.
In 1 John 4, John talks about loving people as the application piece or the result of loving God. He says that one cannot exist without the other:
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love...Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.”
I really urge you to take some time to think about the friends you have in your life, or the people that God has had on your heart for weeks that you keep brushing off or ignoring (I’ve been ignoring those nudges too). Think about the gifts he has given you and the ways you can use those gifts practically to serve.
Below are some of the ways my friends have served me well:
- When a friend mentions that they are having an event, get together or important ceremony show up in support of them. Help them with the planning or preparation, ask them if you can run errands for them, or just be there with a big neon sign cheering them on from the side lines.
- When your friends are sick, in peak work craziness, dealing with loss, stress or anxiety, show up with dinner for them. You’d be surprised how helpful it can be, in the midst of hardship, to know that you don’t have to cook yourself dinner.
- Carve out intentional time in your week to catch up with your friends face to face. Maybe that needs to be at 6am on a Tuesday because that is the only free time you both have, do it anyway, relationships are worth the inconvenience. Time is the most valuable thing you’ve have to give and your friends deserve it. (This includes long distance friendships, its 2017, you have just as much access to a friend in Boston as you do your neighbor).
- Pick a couple friends at the start of the week and commit to pray for them daily. But actually tell them, text the prayer you prayed for them. Follow up with some texts throughout the week to check in and see how they are doing and how else you may be able to serve them.
- Write tangible letters of encouragement. In a world of email, texts, tweets and likes, do something that will encourage beyond the day. Mail them, put them on their doorstep with a bunch of flowers, or drop off a cup of coffee to their office.
- Gather people. Invite friends over for a dinner party, bingo night, wine and dessert, movies, crafting, reality TV… the options are endless. But something amazing happens when you open your home and heart to other people.
Friendship is not something that you can passively participate in. It requires your mind, heart and hands. The ability we have to serve people is our honor, it is our call and our God is the picture of how that is done perfectly. He invites us into friendship and community so that we can experience him as we sharpen each other and encourage each other toward holiness and worship.