We heard advice from several Xenos Biblical counselors last week on how to build friendships.
Friendships are vital to our fellowship as we seek to live out an Acts 2:42 lifestyle.
Veteran counselor Bev DeLashmutt says, “Those who go out to find a friend, often do not find one. Those who go out to be a friend, find many.” She suggests reviewing the “one another” commands and being committed to practicing them with all the people in your life, whether they are friends or not, or whether you like them or not. Loving God’s Way by Gary DeLashmutt is a great book about applying the one another passages in community.
And counselor Lee Campbell has some practical tips for strengthening your listening skills:
- Stay humble...it will help you be genuinely curious. It's impossible to be humble and curious while being defensive. Let them talk. You have plenty of time to tell them your perspective after you've listened.
- Remember that it will be most helpful for them if you let them talk. God himself, who knows everything, asks questions and waits for a response. It must be that the speaker needs to talk (not the listener). Instructing, critiquing, rebuking, reproving are very important after you've listened.
- Feedback what you think you heard them say and check if you heard them accurately. At the end of their talking summarize the whole thing and check again to make sure you've heard them accurately.
- Validate what you heard. This is not the same as agreeing. It simply means that you've listened long enough and empathetically enough that what they think, feel, want or did makes sense. Saying, "I see why you feel this way," is a validation.
Bev adds that she has a goal to “listen until I get a new insight or perspective from the Lord through the words of the person speaking.”
For additional resources on listening, check out Lee’s workshop and handouts (http://www.xenos.org/counseling/workshops).
To consider how deeply you’re building your friendships, see the chart on page 31 of Spiritual Relationships that Last by Dennis McCallum and Gary DeLashmutt.