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Fostering Friendships

I remember as a child being painfully shy. I wanted to make friends, but I wasn’t sure how and I wasn’t sure anyone would like me. I remember my mom, who has always been a friendly person, saying, “Just be friendly. Ask what their name is and tell them your name.” It made sense, yet for some reason I just couldn’t do it. I did take some of her advice though and I did try to join in games or activities that others were doing. Still to talk to someone I didn’t know was very hard, so most of the time I just listened. Now listening isn’t a bad skill, still, just how do those of us on the shyer side learn to make friends? I am happy to say, I’e come a long ways since those shy days. I don’t consider myself shy any more. I am really more outgoing and I’m loving it. How did I get there and how can we help our kids make friends?

I prayed about it. My best friend Jesus heard a small girl’s prayers and little by little, He answered. He nudged me out of my comfort zone to introduce myself to others and to be the first one to say my name. I still mostly listen during conversations, but I find that people love to talk to someone who listens to them and who tries to understand how they feel. I also learned to smile and ask questions. When you give someone a genuine smile, they usually smile back and when you ask about their day or wish them a good day, it lets them know that you care. As I listen, I try to really listen and remember what someone has told me. When we listen only with the intent of thinking of what we are going to say, we often miss what the other person is really talking about, but when we listen to understand and then respond with genuine interest, we’ve gained a friend.

I also learned that most people are not trying to judge you. Yes, I suppose we all make snap judgements at times. I know I’ve met someone and thought, “Oh they must be a teacher.” because of something they said only to find out that they worked in a doctor’s office or I’ve thought that someone was rich because they dressed very nicely and later found out that they weren’t any richer than I was, but they knew how to shop the sales. Still most people aren’t automatically trying to judge you as a person or judge what you say unless you are responding in an unkind manner. Most people are happy to smile back at you and are glad that there are some friendly people in the world.

If you are in a group where you don’t know anyone and feel kind of alone, you can be sure that there is at least one other person feeling the same way. So just introduce yourself. Ask their name and then ask where they are from, where they grew up, what their job is or even about the weather. Just introduce yourself! You might make their day.(Did you know that you can find lists of “getting-to-know-you” questions on line if you need something to get you started?)

Ok, so I’m still not the life of the party and I sometimes wonder if I will ever have a friendship quite like David had with his friend Jonathan, but I’m happy to say, I have friends – lots of friends and I am definitely not shy!!! In fact, I belong to a Toastmaster’s group and I actually enjoy public speaking. I didn’t get there overnight, but little by little, with God’s help, I faced my fears. I challenged myself to get out of my comfort zone and I realized that there were a lot of other people, just like me who were little apprehensive about introducing themselves. I’m still growing in my quest to be braver and more outgoing. My next goal is to get enough courage to share my ideas in group meetings even if I’m afraid that everyone is smarter and has better ideas than I do, even if I come across as ridiculous. The only ridiculous idea or question is the one not asked or shared.

How can we ever hope to have a friend like David had in Jonathan? Perhaps the best answer is to genuinely love and care about others. When we can get our eyes off of ourselves and our fears, focusing on the other person instead, then we can be a friend. The best way to make friends is to simply be a friend to someone else.

PRAYER: Father God,
Thank you for being my friend and thank you for sending Jesus to the world. He lived among us and experienced what we experience. He knew loneliness, pain, hunger and thirst. He endured ridicule, misunderstanding and rejection. he also experienced love and companionship and through it all, He loved and served. He healed and helped. He lived selflessly and He called us to follow Him. He died so that we might live in relationship with our Father God. Thank you Jesus, for being my friend. Help me, Lord, to let go of my selfish fears and be a friend to others. I know that I can be a friend because you are my friend and you are always with me. Amen

WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH YOUR CHILD?
SHARE A STORY: Good Friends – David & Jonathan – 1 Samuel 20:12-42
David and Jonathan were very good friends. They loved each other. (Give self a hug.) But Jonathan’s dad was the king and he didn’t like David. (Make sad, mean face.) He was jealous and wanted to hurt David. Jonathan promised David that he would find out if his dad really was mad, (Show mad face.) then he would let David know so that he could go away where it was safe.

Jonathan talked to his dad and King Saul was still very angry. He thought people liked David better than him. Jonathan was sad because his dad was mad. (Show sad face.) But He had promised to let David know and good friends keep their promises. Good friends help each other.

Jonathan went out to the field where David was hiding. He shot some arrows to let David know that his dad was still mad and that David needed to get away. Afterwards Jonathan sent the boy who was with him back to town so he could see his friend, David, one last time. David came out from where he was hiding to say good bye to his friend. They cried together, (Say, “Boo hoo!”) and they promised to be friends forever. (Say and clap, “Friends forever.”) They promised to be kind to each other.

David and Jonathan were very good friends.They loved God (Point up.) and they loved each other. (Give self a hug.)You can be a good friend too. Ask God to help you be a good friend and show kindness just like Jonathan did. Do you know who wants to be your good friend? Jesus! He really loves you. You can be a good friend to others because Jesus lis a good, good friend to you.

PRAYER:
Dear God,
Thank you for my friends. Help me to be a good friend and be kind to others.
Help me remember to share. Thank you God for being my friend too. I love you! Amen

MEMORIZE: Proverbs 17:17 – (Hold hands open as though holding a book.)
A friend – (Hook pointer fingers together.)
Loves – (Give self a hug.)
At all – (Throw hands out to sides.)
Times – (Point to clock.)

VERSE SONG: (To the tune of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”)
A friend loves at all times,
All times, all times.
A friend loves at all times,
And Jesus is a friend of mine.
(2nd time through replace last line with Proverbs 17:17)

FOSTERING OUR KID’S FRIENDSHIPS (Parents)
With young children, getting together with other families with young children is a good start. Young children begin to understand friendship as they simply play alongside one another. Playing with your child as he/she plays alongside others helps too – as well as having toys that can be shared – 2 trucks, 2 dolls, blocks, etc.

  • Teach your preschooler what to say when meeting someone new. “Hi! My name is …. What’s your name?”
  • Invite someone over to play one on one. with your child. It’s a little less intimidating one on one than in a whole group..

    FRIENDSHIP IN CLASS (Teachers)
  • Introduce kids to each other. Have some of the friendlier, less shy kids be greeters to welcome other kids. Assign someone to be a new child’s special buddy the first day in class.
  • Play a name game in circle time by clapping different names or singing the names around the circle.
  • Include activities where more than one child is included – art activities done as a group or building together, doing a puzzle together, etc.
  • Model and role play how to introduce yourself and some get-to-know you types of questions.
  • With older kids, encourage friendships amongst kids who have like interests, but also amongst kids who are different.
  • Celebrate each child’s uniqueness.

A Good Leader Learns To Follow

Happy Fourth!

All of us are leaders and all of us are followers. Some leaders are good leaders, others are not very good leaders and still others can completely get you off track, because they haven’t learned the way to go themselves. Wherever you might find yourself in the realm of leader and follower, you can be sure that you are both. You might be thinking, like I was, “Me? A leader? You’ve got to be kidding!” But you can be sure that someone – your kids, a student in your classroom, a neighbor or who knows who, but someone is watching you and learning from what you do. The question then arises, “What makes a good leader?” That question could be answered in a myriad of ways depending on what it is you want to be learn or follow. Do you want to learn how to cook healthier meals? Then follow someone who has had some experience with cooking healthy meals. Do you want to know more about car repairs or home decorating or jazz music? Then seek someone out who knows about those things. You-Tube and the internet in general abounds with instructional videos – some good and some not so good. You will know as you watch. Watch carefully!

However, we are talking about leading here not following, right? So how do I become a good leader? How can I lead people well and not get off track or muddle along losing traction? It goes back to following. If you want to be a good leader, find someone who is a good leader and follow them. That is no easy task, because, as was already stated, there is a wealth of information out there, some information is very good and some is quite questionable. Sorting out the difference between the two can be difficult. Some leaders are helpful and some will lead you down the wrong path.A lot of voices vie for our attention, a lot of things call us to follow, “Follow me on Twitter” or “Instagram.” “Follow me on Tik Tok.” It’s really important to choose well when you are looking to follow someone or something because you will become like those you follow and you will lead others to go that direction too.

Jesus called disciples to follow Him and later those same disciples led others to follow in Jesus’ footsteps. Paul said, “Join together in following my example …” Phil. 3:19 He could say that because He was following Jesus. If you want to lead well and follow well, be sure, above all else, that you are following Jesus.

PARENT PRAYER:
Father God,
I do want to lead well. I want to lead my family well and the kids that I do chapel with. I want to lead my women’s group well. I want to love like you love and serve like you serve, but I also realize how very important it is to follow. If I want to lead well, I need to pay attention to how closely I am following you. It’s so easy to get sidetracked or distracted by all the other voices in the world. Teach me Lord, to listen, to watch closely and learn from you. Amen

TIPS FOR HELPING OUR KIDS LEAD & FOLLOW

* Remind them to choose well who and what they are following. As parents, we may have to say, “No!” to a destructive friendship especially when they are young. What is your child listening to and watching? What does he/she devote his/her time to? These are the things that will shape your child.

* Watch what you are portraying to your kids. What are you saying, doing, living and watching? If you bend the truth, chances are your kids will too. If you are watching questionable shows or going to questionable sites, chances are your kids will be more inclined to do so as well.

* Affirm your child’s values of honesty, kindness and integrity. Teach them to be courageous and stand up for their values – this is the beginning of leadership to be able to say, “No!” to someone who is asking us to go against our values. If your child learns to say, “No!” other kids may be inspired by your child’s courageous stand.

* Allow them to begin making safe choices at an early age, but give them boundaries. Kids need to know they can make choices and think for themselves within safe boundaries. Help them understand what is a good choice and what is a bad or not so good choice. Allowing them to experience simple, safe consequences for their actions, can help them begin to understand when a not-so-good choice is made and role-playing or talking about good and bad choices can also be helpful.

* Give them responsibility. This gives them a chance to learn discipline and also a chance to lead. Making your child responsible for simple chores such as caring for his or her pet, putting his or her clothes away, unloading the dishwasher, are all good ways of helping your child learn responsibility.

* When playing a game or entering your child’s pretend world, let your child take the lead. They will enjoy being the leader for a time and will gain confidence in leading.

Kid’s Section

SHARE A STORY: Jesus Calls Follow Me – Matt. 4:18-22, Luke 5:27-28
One day as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, (Walk, walk, walk) He saw (Place hand above eyes as though looking.) Peter and Andrew fishing. Peter and Andrew were brothers. Jesus called to them, “Come. Follow me. I will help you fish for people.” (Put hands by mouth and say together, “Follow me!”) Peter and Andrew stopped fishing, left their nets and just like that, they followed Jesus.

A little further down the beach, (Walk, walk, walk) Jesus saw (Place hand above eyes as though looking.) two more brothers. James and John were fishermen too. They were in their boat getting ready to fish. Jesus called, “Come, follow me.” (Put hands by mouth and say together, “Follow me!”) James and John left their boat and followed Jesus too.

Jesus asked Peter, Andrew, James and John to follow and learn from Him. They would be His disciples or helpers. They went everywhere with Jesus. Jesus was their best friend.

Later, Jesus chose others to be his disciples or helpers and follow Him too. Jesus is still looking (Place hand above eyes as though looking.) for people to follow Him. He wants you to follow Him too. He wants you to listen, learn and know about His Father, God. He wants to be your best friend all the time. He wants you to love others like He loves.

How can you follow Jesus? You can ask Him to be your friend and to forgive you for any wrong things you’ve done or any wrong choices you’ve made. You can give Him your love and you can listen and learn from the Bible. Don’t forget you can also talk to Him everyday. Jesus will help you follow Him because He loves you and wants to be your friend all the time wherever you go.

PRAYER:
Dear Jesus, I want you to be my friend all the time. Please forgive me when I make bad choices or forget to listen and love you. Forgive me for anything I do that does not honor you. Help me to listen and learn from you everyday. I want to follow you and do the things you do. I want to be quick to say, “Yes!“ to you. Thank you for loving me. Amen

MEMORIZE: Matt. 4:19 ERV – (Hold hands like holding a book.)
“Jesus said” – (Sign for Jesus – touch fingers to palm of other hand and vice versa.)
“Come,” – (Beckon with hands.)
“Follow” – (Walk in place.)
“Me,“ – (Point upwards.)

KNOW: I can follow Jesus.
TALK ABOUT: What does it mean to follow? To follow Jesus?
ASK: Who wants to be your friend all the time? Jesus wants to be my friend all the time.
AND DO: I can follow Jesus by loving and listening to Him.

FUN IDEAS FOR THIS WEEK
Play “Follow The Leader.”  Talk about how you can follow Jesus or do what Jesus would do.

* Practice following directions by giving your child fun directions to follow such as hop over to your bed, walk like an elephant, etc. Then let your child give you some fun directions. Talk about why it’s important to follow directions, especially God’s directions.