This past week my job brought me to the door of an Oregonian couple moving to Dallas, Texas to retire and be with their children. Of course anytime someone mentions Texas I start talking about the church in West Texas and how the Lord brought me here to begin Your Church +Portland. When I mentioned that I was a pastor the woman said that her late father had been a Nazarene pastor for years in a city up in Canada called Saskatoon – the city where she was born. A fellow Canadian! I was amazed since that too is my birthplace. Then her husband tells me that he grew up in Hamilton Ontario where his father worked at the nickel plant – yet another ‘go figure!’ moment since most of my childhood was spent in St. Catherine’s Ontario. It was like we were old friends who found each other – good ole Canadian friends! I was going to wish them well in Dallas by telling them to ‘take off eh!’ but we were interrupted by people coming to look at their house.
I walked away from our conversation that evening thinking about how amazing it is that one can stumble upon complete strangers and end up having some sort of connection with them. You know, when I think about it you can find that with pretty much anybody if you’re willing to go there. It’s sort of like the world of sales. When you’re selling product you accomplish a connection with customers by utilizing a sales-proven method called, ‘discovery’; the process of taking time to ask questions in order to discover your customers’ needs. If you can target the right questions you’ll not only discover what your customer needs but also uncover their pain. When you uncover their pain an effective salesperson will acknowledge the pain, relate to it with his/her own similar painful story and then sell the solution – how your product solves the pain. It’s known as the feel-felt-found method.
As Christians we technically don’t ‘sell’ Jesus to others, but in reality we sell ourselves. We sell the light, who we are, by being a positive influence on others. Yet in order to be a positive influence we have to have people in our life to actually influence! Deep isn’t it? It may sound elementary but if we are going to be salt and light to this generation then the only way we can really do that is to have friends. Like it or hate it, we need them. Having one faithful friend in life is great but what if we had more than one? Is it possible? I read a stat that the majority of Americans (yes that includes Christians) on a daily basis deal with some level of loneliness. Information like that really sucks but I know what it’s like. When we look inward I think what holds most of us back from having more friends is our inhibition. “What if I put myself out there and they don’t reciprocate?” “What if I get used or played?” My biggest fear is what if they turn out to be really strange or are actually alien invaders inhabiting human bodies like in the movie ‘Men in Black?’ Believe me I’ve met them!
When it comes to acquiring friends, the fact is we all have fears and to some degree some of it is just a form of selfishness. Life is easier to control when it’s just us and our castle. We’d all like the perfect friend who is available only when we need them, the ones who like what we like, and who take us out for dinner. But as the saying goes, to have friends we have to be one. That means it starts by being somewhat of a salesperson using that discovery process and finding out what makes others tick. It means taking the time to uncover someone’s pain point and then revealing ours. Vulnerability! It means we’re going to get shafted by somebody – but not everybody. If we stick with it, it equals new friends and a lot of them. Then we can be an influence.
A man who has friends must himself be friendly…
Cheers to my friends!