The Friendship Factor: How to Get Closer to the People You Care For, by Alan Loy Mc Ginnis. Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1979.
This is an easy to read, very practical down to earth guide to the art of interpersonal relationships. It gets to the little details which are easily overlooked but which have a big impact on friendships. For example, Mc Ginnis writes: even when our mouths are closed we are saying a lot. When people speak to you, they are receiving lots of messages about how interested you are. Remember: the surest way to be interesting is to be interested, and the intensity of your interest can be measured by the way your body talks.
Eye contact is one the surest indicators. If you are staring at the wall or glancing at other people, the speaker gets the strong impression of how little you care about the conversation. On the other hand, if you look a man directly in the eye as he speaks, you will be amazed at how quickly he gets the complement.
This book is not written from a distinctly Reformed point of view and must be read with some discretion.
The Four Loves, by C.S. Lewis. Published in a collection of writings called The Inspirational Writings of C.S. Lewis. New York: Inspirational Press, 1991.
C.S. Lewis looks at relationships from a more philosophical point of view. He is more difficult to read, but has some valuable and penetrating insights. In connection with friendship he brings up the scenario: if, of three friends (A, B, and C), A should die, then B loses not only A, but A’s part in C, while C loses not only A but A’s part in B. In each of my friends, there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets. Now that Charles is dead, I shall never again see Ronald’s reaction to a specific Caroline joke. Far from having more of Ronald, having him “to myself” now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald. Hence true Friendship is the least jealous of loves. Two friends delight to be joined by a third, and three by a fourth, if only the newcomer is qualified to become a real friend…. Friendship exhibits a glorious “nearness by resemblance” to Heaven itself where the very multitude of the blessed (which no man can number) increases the fruition which each has of God. For every soul, seeing Him in her own way, doubtless communicates that unique vision to all the rest.
A book like this may be useful to stimulate some in depth discussions on the concept of friendships.
Your convention has the theme “Godly Friendships.” Most books just speak about friendships. What precisely makes a friendship “godly?” Our Protestant Reformed Churches have developed a distinctive view of the covenant as a essentially friendship. If you don’t already have the RFPA publications having to do with the concept of the covenant, you may want to get them and study this fundamental concept.