By Andrew Hess
Facebook recently released a new feature they call “look back,” which takes your most popular posts and pics and pulls them into a slideshow with a nice emotive piano bed. I loved watching mine. So many great times with great friends paraded in front of me. I didn’t want it to end.
In seven years since I first joined Facebook, a lot has changed in my life. I’ve changed jobs, finished seminary, moved, started new ministries, and married off several of my close friends. In the ebb and flow of life as a single man, I’ve noticed things are always changing, especially relationships. Friends I used to spend lots of time with now spend most of their time taking care of their new babies. I still see them, but our relationship takes more intentionality.
The single life is a life of continual adjustment. We cannot afford to settle in and just let our relationships coast. Increasingly, I believe single young men must proactively shape our own relationships. We must cultivate new ones and strengthen old ones. In summary, we should be more intentional in building strong relationships.
I’d like to suggest four ways this can be done.
Meet New People
Single men should be intentional about meeting new people. Guys need to regularly put themselves in situations where we are meeting new people and getting to know them. Think of this as gathering new acquaintances. You may never become best friends with the people you are meeting, but you are gaining a level of familiarity.
Some guys might feel content with the friends they’ve already developed and wonder why they should spend their time meeting new people. Isn’t that just for people looking for friends or spouses? To those questions, I’d respond that Christians should always be open to new relationships. In the body of Christ, God often brings grace into our lives through other people. In the same way God calls us to edify one another, we should build relationships expecting that God will bring all sorts of blessings into our lives through those relationships.
If you’re like me, sometimes you might let your friendships drift. I can easily let parties and social gatherings be the only time I connect with my friends. We’re still close, but neither of us are intentional about creating times to hang out. I sometimes blame how busy I am or how tired I am, but truth be told, I just haven’t been intentional enough.
Many men enjoy grabbing a meal with a friend, but just aren’t very intentional about making it happen. I keep a running list of friends I want to connect with just to enjoy their company. Some of them are old friends, and others are new. Create a few standing monthly lunch or breakfast meetings with friends.
Initiate Spiritual Conversations
Many men don’t feel comfortable striking up a conversation about faith with their friends. We assume others don’t want to talk about faith or that they will see it as some type of prying, but men benefit from talking with each other about their faith. Proverbs calls this iron sharpening iron (Proverbs 27:17). We should wonder about how important our faith is to us if we never share it with those who are closest to us.
An easy way to initiate a spiritual conversation is to wait for a need to come up and ask a friend if you could pray for their need. It doesn’t need to be a long, grandiose prayer, but a simple request on their behalf. Sharing each other’s prayer burdens is a great way to grow closer to each other and gain a closer brother in the Lord. My sweetest friendships are those with whom I can talk about my faith and ask for prayer. Every guy should have friends they can open up to about their walk with the Lord.
Learn Within Community
We live at a time of incredible opportunity for growth. There are more books to read, messages to hear, blogs to browse, and classes to take then anyone has the time for. With so many great opportunities, men need to be intentional about picking opportunities that will prove the best use of their time, energy and money.
I believe many young men will improve themselves by spending more time gathering with others to learn and grow. Many of my previous suggestions often happened for me at conferences. Even in high school, I was saving up my money to go to conferences. These were sweet days when God planted dreams and desires in my heart that I’m still pursuing today. Sometimes, I feel I’ve learned more at these conferences than I did in some of my graduate courses.
One place you can meet new people, nurture friendships and enjoy spiritual conversations is at the upcoming weekend event Pursuit 2014 hosted by Boundless.org Aug. 7-9.It’s good to learn from great teachers and process what you are learning within a community. Whenever I’m planning a time of growth, I try to include as many other people as possible. Inviting your friends to come and learn along with you is a great way to grow and make some great memories with your friends.
There will be a lot of great teaching from folks like Tullian Tchividjian and Emerson Eggerichs. Many single young adults will travel from all over the world to gather in beautiful Colorado Springs, Colo. Conferences like this one are great opportunities to connect, grow and be more intentional. I plan to attend; consider joining us. It’s sure to be a great time.
BIO: Andrew Hess is research associate for Family Formation Studies at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, Colo. He teaches Bible and psychology classes at Colorado Christian University and took his M.Div. from Denver Seminary. Find out more about Andrew and Boundless here.
You, too, can help support the ministry of CBMW. We are a non-profit organization that is fully-funded by individual gifts and ministry partnerships. Your contribution will go directly toward the production of more gospel-centered, church-equipping resources.