How many friends can I have? Not on Facebook, but in real life. Is there a point where the number of people that I know well and would consider my friend maxes out either because of time, or memory, or simple fatigue. I suppose their is, but I have not gotten there yet, and I would like more close friends than I presently have, and I am a strong introvert.
One of my major priorities in life is growing in character every day to be more like Jesus. I desire that very much, but I must know how to make that desire a reality. I have discovered that rapid growth in myself happens most effectively in meaningful community, that is during and in the context of pursuing growing relationships. I want people to like me, not because of ego but because I want to influence them toward a relationship,with Jesus. If they don’t like me they probably are not going to,like my God and Savior, that is just the way it is.
As I pursue people, very much like I pursued Patty when I was courting her, I think about how I act and speak and smile and smell, and listen. It is in the pursuit of meaningful relationships that my character flaws, irritating habits, and lack of relational intelligence becomes magnified so that I can see it and work on it. A super important principle in this lifestyle of pursuing people is, it has to be about them not about me.
I have identified some key attitudes that must be strong in me if I am going to effectively increase the number of meaningful relationships that I have that results in the other person being blessed by God because of me.
The first is accepting them where they are in their growth, and not being critical or judgmental in my thinking toward them because it will come out in my body language, tone of voice, facial expression, in my eyes, and choice of words. It takes great self-control to totally accept another person in your thoughts, but how we think about a person has major impact on how we treat them. It is embarrassing to me how old I was before I figured that one out.