A recent survey asked people if they had at least 3 friends they could turn to in a crisis. 10 years ago 50% said yes to this. In the last 10 years that amount has shrunk to only 25%.
The relationships we build with others, including our friendships, have a major influence on our lives. They can be the source of great joy, strength and support – or enormous grief and pain.
None of the financial/career/material successes we might achieve can ever replace the high value of strong relationships.
Yet despite the popularity of social networking sites and the modern convenience of electronic communication, it seems many people today have difficulty developing and maintaining good friendships. Many admit they are lonely and don’t feel connected, describing themselves as relationally incomplete.
Many people just don’t seem to have what it takes to develop and sustain meaningful relationships and friendships. Instead they seem to repel people, finding friendships appear to dissolve around them. Many also seem to be missing a sense of community – having somewhere they feel they belong to where they can interact with others face to face.
Here are some of the difficulties people often seem to encounter in maintaining good friendships:
- Not knowing how to cultivate lasting relationships
- Not being able to deal with conflict effectively
- Giving up too quickly
- Expecting to receive before they have given
A quick fix may be to try to alter the outward personality – to learn some techniques and ‘people skills’. But in the long run it is far more effective to build strength of character and good principles into your life.
We need to ask ourselves: ‘Can people trust me? Am I faithful? Do I exhibit discretion? Am I loyal? Can I show love? Am I kind? Do I genuinely care for others?’
Real concern for others is like a plant whose visible branches and leaves grow out of its hidden roots. If we try to ‘fake it’ most people will see through our superficiality pretty quickly.
More to come!