Since there are three levels of friendship–causal, close and committed–it should be our goal to move as many friendships as humanly possible from a causal to a committed friendship. There is means that there are at least 10 things that each of us can and should do in nurturing a friendship grow.
1. Recognize you need friends. It’s the first step that leads to better and more secure friendships.
2. Look for others in need of a friend. This may mean reaching out to people whom you might otherwise pass over.
Ask God to bring a faithful friend into your life.
3. Be approachable by smiling at others. At times, I’ve been to that I look stern when I’m not aware of my expression. This means to me that I must be more aware and adjust my facial expression.
5. Listen attentively to others.
6. Look at the face of the speaker and keep your eyes on the face of the person speaking.
7. Give genuine compliments and encouragement. Get caught noticing the good things in a person.
8. Ask open-ended question. Is your daughter feeling better? How is the job?
9. Help others verbalize their feelings. You don’t seem quite yourself today, are you feeling all right?
10. Look for the kernel of truth in your friends’ criticism.
I’ve learned a great deal about friendship living within the mentally challenged community. In general, these are people who give of themselves without reserve. With the slightest encouragement, you become their friend for life. Yet, shifting on the other foot, they find interacting with their peer may be more difficult. Within Special Gathering, which is a ministry within the mentally challenged community, we endeavor to help our members establish valued and long-lasting friendship with their peers.