In this day and age of hustle and bustle, building friendships are becoming the exception rather than the rule. People are tied to their phones and/or their computers, and the human touch is becoming a thing that is secondary. Going out to eat at a restaurant is a prime example to see what I mean. Observe the number of people at their table pulling out their phones to text someone who isn’t even there. I timed a couple who were both at the table looking at their phones to see how long it would take them to look up at one another and begin conversing. They went 20 minutes before a word was spoken to the other person. 20 minutes. Not much connecting as friends during that time. At least with the person they were face to face with.
When you think of connecting with friends, you might want to take advice from someone who had a lot of friends and cultivated their friendships. Would you take advice from someone who was deceitful? How about someone who murdered his step brother? Or someone who torched his friends property because he wouldn’t listen to him? I wouldn’t either until I read a story about such a person.
It’s a story about a person named Absalom. He was one of the sons of King David who in the course of time killed his step brother for raping his biological sister. His father never punished the son for raping his daughter. Absalom was resentful to his father for the way King David had handled the whole situation and decided to win the people of Israel over to his side. You can read the whole story of this encounter between King David and Absalom in II Samuel 13-15, but I was intrigued with how Absalom won friends in the course of taking over the Israelite kingdom deceitfully. I believe there are principles of building friendships even with this scoundrel.
“In the course of time, Absalom provided himself with a chariot and horses and with fifty men to run ahead of him. He would get up early and stand by the side of the road leading to the city gate. Whenever anyone came with a complaint to be placed before the king for a decision, Absalom would call out to him, “What town are you from?” He would answer, “Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel.” Then Absalom would say to him, “Look, your claims are valid and proper, but there is no representative of the king to hear you.” And Absalom would add, “If only I were appointed judge in the land! Then everyone who has a complaint or case could come to me and I would see that they receive justice.” Also, whenever anyone approached him to bow down before him, Absalom would reach out his hand, take hold of him and kiss him. Absalom behaved in this way toward all the Israelites who came to the king asking for justice, and so he stole the hearts of the people of Israel. At the end of four years, Absalom said to the king, “Let me go to Hebron and fulfill a vow I made to the Lord.” 2 Samuel 15:1-7 NIV
Principle One: You need to put yourself in the place of getting in front of people. Absalom “would stand by the side of the road leading to the city gate.” If we are going to develop friendships, we need to be where the people are and make ourselves available. Put away the phone when you are in the presence of others.
Principle Two: We need to connect with the roots of where people are from. Absalom “would call out to him, ‘What town are you from?’ People love to talk about their background if you take the time to engage.
Principle Three: Validate a person’s issues and concerns. Absalom “would say to him, ‘Look your claims are valid and proper.’ Validation of the feelings and concerns of another person goes along way in building connection with the person.
Principle Four: Physical touch. Absalom “would reach out his hand, take hold of him and kiss him.” Touching our friends is one of the ways to bond ourselves to our friends.
Principle Five: Time. “At the end of four years, Absalom. . .” It takes time to build solid relationships and so take the time.
On this journey it is important to take whatever God gives us as teaching opportunities for learning how to connect with those God brings into our lives. Even if we learn from someone who has less than honorable values.