How to Win Friends and Influence People

Title: How to Win Friends and Influence People

Bible Book: 1 Corinthians 9 : 19-23

Author: J. Gerald Harris

Subject: Witness; Testimony; Friendship



For some time now we have been talking about how Eastside Baptist Church can have an impact upon our community and upon our world. We have been talking about how we can build relationships with people who are outside the family of faith. And it is obvious that there is a cultural gap between believers and non-believers, and there is a spiritual gap between believers and non-believers. We need to learn how we can establish common ground between ourselves and those who have not yet discovered the abundant life which is in Jesus Christ.

A few people will come to church because they see the buildings and they are attracted to the architectural structure of the facilities. Some people will come to church because they are drawn into the church by the music ministry. There are those who will come because of the youth ministry or the provisions that are made for the children. A few would even dare to come because of the preacher and his homiletical style. But more than anything else, people will come to church because someone has cultivated a relationship with them, and out of that friendship extended an invitation for them to come and discover what God is doing in the life of that particular fellowship.

So this morning I want to challenge you to win friends and influence people. Not for any selfish reason, nor for the glory of the church, but for the glory of God. In fact, this morning I want to suggest to you ten ways to develop friendships.

1. Speak to people. There is nothing as nice as a cheerful word of greeting.

2. Smile at people. It takes 72 muscles to frown; only 14 to smile.

3. Call people by name. The sweetest music to anyone’s ears is the sound of his own name.

4. Be friendly and helpful. If you would have friends, be friendly.

5. Be genuinely interested in people. You can like almost everybody if you try.

6. Be generous with praise – cautious with criticism.

7. Be considerate with the feelings of others. There are usually three sides to a controversy; yours, the other fellow’s and the right one.

8. Be alert to give service. What counts most in life is what we do for others.

9. Add to this a good sense of humor, a big dose of patience, and a dash of humility and you will be rewarded manifold.

10. Make friends in time to make them friends for eternity.

Now, as we look at our text, the first thing that I want us to notice is:


In verse 19 Paul declares that he is “free from all men.” As far as his rights were concerned he “was free from all men.” He was not obligated to anybody. He was liberated. He was free to enjoy the blessings and the benefits of salvation.

He could have gone to church, enjoyed the service, slipped out the back door when the benediction was being pronounced and no one would have thought the less of him for doing so.

He could have gotten in a Bible study and enjoyed the fellowship of other believers and just coasted down the home stretch until he entered the pearly gates of heaven.

And you know something, that’s where I see most of us, just kind of coasting into glory. But I want to tell you something, folks. While the church is coasting into glory, the world is sliding into hell.

Sometimes I wonder if these worship experiences are really challenging us and motivating us to do what God has called us to do. I had a pastor tell me recently that he felt that his messages were received about the same way the message of a flight attendant is received. I want to take you onboard a Delta flight, a Boeing 727. I flew on one of those planes some time ago. The flight was full of businessmen, many of whom apparently had made the same trip hundreds of times. And they became the world's least attentive audience. They were absolutely indifferent. The reason I say that is because no one was paying any attention to the flight attendant. Before we took off, she stood up and proceeded to give one of those routine safety instructions. As she went through her explanation, the inattention was absolute. Businessmen were reading the Wall Street Journal. Some of them were reading those in-flight magazines. Other passengers were talking. The guy beside me was working on his laptop computer. Others were looking through portfolios of clients. No one was paying any attention. And everyone seemed to be relieved when she had finally finished.

Most of you know the spill yourself. The flight attendant said, "Good afternoon. We'd like to welcome you onboard Delta flight 601 to Atlanta. Please make sure that all of your trays are in an upright and locked position. We'd like to direct your attention to the flight attendant in front of each cabin as we point out the safety features on the airplane. "No smoking and seat belt signs are located on the panel above your seat. Please observe the signs when they are illuminated. Safety exits are the two forward doors and the two rear doors and the four window exits above the wings. Please observe your location in the cabin to see the exit which is closest to your seat…”

Although she was giving safety instructions, there seemed to be no passion, no sense of urgency.

And so often it’s the same way in the church. And maybe it’s the lack of passion in the pulpit that translated into a lack of passion in the pew. And so there’s not much response. We have shifted into neutral. We seem to be bent on just playing it safe. We go back to the solitude of our homes and we spend the rest of the week cocooning.

Are you familiar with that word? It is a word that has come on the scene with the last ten years. It describes the lifestyle of the baby boomers and the baby busters. The dictionary defines it this way: Cocooning - a tendency to withdraw into the privacy of one’s home, especially during leisure time. Baby boomers and baby busters are spending a lot more time at home curled up with good books, good music, and VCR movies. Some refer to this as cocooning. So we get home from work, we push the garage door open or the garage door opens, we drive in the garage, the door comes down. And we remain there in our home until the next morning when it's time to go to work, and the garage door opens and we go to work.

A lot of church folks are cocooning because, you see, we have concluded that it's an unfriendly world out there. It's a hostile world. It's a world that no longer accepts our values. And so we've concluded that we need to isolate ourselves from the world. And so do you know what is happening? Christianity is declining and secularism is increasing.

But I'm saying that the church must learn how to deal with the secular society in which we live. Now, I get the impression that when people think of a "secularized" person they get a mental image of someone who is off-beat. And they think this secularized person can be found in a spiritually resistant pocket of the country, in a place like San Francisco or Chicago, and that this secularized person lives some sort of alternative lifestyle. As one person put it, "I would really like to become involved with secularized people, but I don't think we have any around here."

The secularized people of our society are usually not off-beat at all. They shave, they go to the hairdresser, they wear suits and ties, they carpool their kids, they run local businesses. We are surrounded by the secularized. Middle America is secularized.

One fellow described his view of life like this. He said, "Hang loose, avoid commitments, do your thing and let others do theirs." I'm telling you, folks, that is the philosophy of the people in my neighborhood. One neighbor said, "Life is like the butterflies. They spend their time flitting from flower to flower. When it's over, it's over. The idea is to look as pretty as you can while you flit."

Somebody else said, "My life consists of going from one experience to another; none of which lasts longer than the time it takes to live it."

The question is: How do we reach these people? It takes a steadfast resolve.

What do you think the Apostle Paul would do if he were alive today? Do you think he would be cocooning? I don't think so. Look at our text. As far as his rights were concerned, he was "free from all men.” But please notice his preference. Because of his love for all men he gladly limited those rights for their sakes and became “a slave to all.” This was his preference – to forfeit his rights, his freedom and become a slave to others for the sake of the gospel. Paul was willing to modify his habits, his preferences, his entire lifestyle if it would only help him build a relationship and lead someone to faith in Christ.

Do you think the early Christians were cocooning? In Acts chapter 8 the Bible says that even though the church was being persecuted, the believers were “scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria.” And then it says, “Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.”

Now, folks, we’re either going to be the church or we’re going to be a poor imitation of the real thing. So we see Paul’s preference. He was free from all men, but he chose to become a slave to all.


In verse 22 we discover Paul's passion. He said, "I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some." He had a passion to see people come to Christ. This was his heart's desire. This was the longing of his soul.

To the Jews, he became as a Jew. Of course, in Christ he was no longer bound to the ceremonies, rituals, and traditions of Judaism. Following or not following any of those things had no effect on his spiritual life. But if following them would open a door for his witnessing to Jews, he would gladly accommodate. What had once been legal restraints had now become love restraints. His motive was clearly to win Jews to salvation in Christ.

Speaking of his fellow Jews, Paul said, "My heart's? desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation" (Romans 10:1). On another occasion Paul said, “For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren my kinsmen according to the fleah” (Romans 9:3). So Paul was willing to do whatever he could to win his own people – the Jewish people.

But then, please notice in verse 21 that he says, “To them that are without law, as without law…” In other words, Paul was willing to live like a Gentile when he worked among Gentiles. When he was among the Gentiles, he spoke of the fact that he was born in Tarsus, one of the great Gentile cities. He spoke of his Roman citizenship. And he had the ability to relate to the Gentiles.

Then notice in verse 22 that he says to the weak, “I became as weak, that I might gain the weak.” The apostle knew how to adapt his approach to any situation in which he found himself.

Never did he compromise his message, but he endeavored to reach his hearers on the basis of their background or their circumstances. In Romans 12:15-16 he wrote, "Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits." It is not always easy to adapt to the situations of others. But if one loves Christ and possesses a sincere burden to win souls to Christ, he will, like the Apostle Paul, become "all things to all men” that he "might by all means save some."

When I read this passage of scripture, I actually thought about a story that came from the Vietnam War. General William Westmoreland was reviewing a platoon of paratroopers in Vietnam. As he went down the line, he asked each of them a question: "How do you like jumping, son?" "Love it, sir," was the first man's answer.

"How do you like jumping?" he asked the next.

"The greatest experience in my life, sir," exclaimed the paratrooper.

"How do you like jumping?" he asked the third.

"I hate it, sir," he replied.

"Then why do you do it?" asked Westmoreland.

"I just want to be around guys who love to jump."

I believe Paul is actually saying to us in this passage of scripture that there may be some things that you really don't like to do. But you will do them anyway if it will mean developing a relationship that could ultimately result in someone coming to faith in Christ.

Hudson Taylor was a missionary to China and God greatly used him. But when he first went to China, he was not making contact. He was not winning any Chinese to the Lord. Then one day it dawned on him that he was English and they were Chinese. Because his culture was English, they didn't accept him. So he changed his manner of clothing and began to dress like the Chinese. The moment he identified with them, he began to successfully win them to Jesus Christ. That's what Paul is talking about in verse 19 when he writes, "I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more."

We need to reach out to the oriental and the occidental, the rich and the poor, the educated and the uneducated, the white community and the black community. Louis Farrakhan mobilized a million black men in his march on Washington because he reached out to them and offered them self respect and hope. And the Nation of Islam is reaching a lot of people that we could have reached if we had just tried. We have been tragically indifferent and sinfully silent.

I'm reminded of the monastery in Germany that trained Christian brothers for various responsibilities within the Roman Catholic church. One Christian brother in training lived in mortal fear of being called upon to preach the sermon in the daily chapel exercises. As this young man thought about his apprehension, he decided to head it off by going to the monitor of the monastery and discussing the problem with him. In the course of the conversation, he said, "Sir, I am willing to do any menial job that you would assign me. I would be delighted to go out into the fields and plow, fertilize and irrigate them by hand to increase the productivity. If you would care for me to do so, I would be happy to get down on my hands and knees and scrub the floors here in the monastery. It would be a privilege for me to polish the silverware. Any menial job that you call upon me to do, I shall be happy to do it. However, please don't ask me to preach a sermon in the chapel."

The monitor, looking at the young man and recognizing that an assignment to preach was exactly what he needed, replied, “Tomorrow you are to conduct the chapel and preach the sermon.”

The next day, as this young brother stood behind the pulpit and looked out into the eyes of his peers who had assembled in the sanctuary, he was greatly apprehensive. He was so nervous he hardly knew what to do. He started his sermon by asking “Brothers, do you know what I am going to say?” They all shook their head in the negative. He continued, “Neither do I. Let’s stand for the benediction.”

Naturally the monitor was infuriated by this. He said to the young man, “I’m going to give you a second chance. Tomorrow you are to conduct the service in the chapel, and this time I want to preach a message.”

The next day the scene was the same, and the young man began as he had the day before. “Brothers, do you know what I’m going to say?” When they all nodded their heads in the affirmative, he said, “Since you already know, there is no point is my saying it. Let’s stand for the benediction.”

The monitor was livid with anger. Once again he went to the young brother and literally roared at him, “I am tired of your chicanery. Tomorrow I am going to give you a third chance. If you don’t come through, I am going to put you in solitary confinement on bread and water.”

The third the scene was the same. The brother began as he had on the two previous days. “Brothers, do you know what I’m going to say?” Some nodded in the affirmative. Some shook their heads in the negative. Then he said, “Let those who know tell those who don’t. Let’s stand for the benediction.”

The point is that I think we're evading our responsibility. We are tragically indifferent and sinfully silent. But it was the Apostle Paul's passion to win friends and influence people for the kingdom of God. And he was willing to become "all things to all men, that (he) might by all means save some."

Now, we've talked about Paul's preference and Paul's passion. Now let's think for a moment about:


His purpose is stated in verse 23. He says, "And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you." The Greek word that is translated "partaker" is the word "sunkoinonos" and refers to joint participation; joint sharing. And the idea here is that Paul wanted everyone else to be a fellow partaker with him in the benefits and blessings of the gospel. He wanted them to be with him in the family of God.

Here we are enjoying the blessings of God, but perhaps overlooking the fact that we have loved ones, neighbors, associates who are not enjoying the blessings of salvation. Do we not realize that without Jesus Christ souls are lost for all eternity and that they will never have another chance. Not only will they be eternally lost and separated from God, but they will reside in hell forever and ever.

Last week a friend of mine died. His name is Doug Cline. We went to high school together. He played football and baseball. He was an outstanding athlete. He was an all-American football player at Clemson University and went on to play with the Houston Oilers. He was probably the greatest athlete ever to come out of Valdese High School. He died of Lou Gehrig's disease.

Now let's just suppose that I had the cure for that disease. I mean, I developed a vaccine and one injection of that vaccine would cure the disease and there would be no ill side effects. Do you think I would be wrong if I withheld that cure from others? Do you think I would be a real friend to Doug Cline if I refused to tell him about my discovery?

You would say, "Well, preacher, that's tragic. You should want him to be a fellow partaker of your good health."

Well, folks, we have something very special here at Eastside. It is the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the fellowship of believers. And we are wrong to just keep this for ourselves.

Do you remember the story of the four Samaritan lepers mentioned in 2 Kings chapter 7? They not only had this rampaging physical malignancy, but they were starving to death during a time of famine. And so realizing that they had nothing to lose, they decided to walk into the camp of the Syrians. The Syrians were the enemy. They knew they were taking a chance because the Syrians might well kill them, but they were starving to death anyway. But then they thought that there was a possibility they would be granted mercy and given some food. When they reached the camp of the Syrians, they found it deserted. And when they looked in their tents, there was food aplenty. The lepers went into the camp and gorged themselves on gourmet food for as long as they could eat. Then they found and hid more gold and silver than they would ever need. When the excitement was over, they began to come to themselves. And they said, “Here we are gorging ourselves on this rich food when the people in the city are starving to death. We’ve got to tell them the good news.” In fact, in II Kings 7:9 we find these words of the four lepers as they sat in the camp of the Syrians. They said, "We do not well: this day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace.”

Folks, that describes us. This is a day of good tidings and we hold our peace. We ought to be willing to share God's goodness and God's blessings and God's message of salvation with others. Paul said, "I'm going to do this because I want others to be a partaker of God's goodness and grace." That's why he became all things to all men. He wanted to share with others the blessings of salvation.


The story is told of the soldier who asked his officer if he might go out into the "no man's land" between the trenches in World War I to bring in one of his comrades who lay grievously wounded. "You can go," said the officer, "but it's not worth it. Your friend is probably killed, and you will throw your own life away."

But the man went. Somehow he managed to get his friend, hoist him onto his shoulder and bring him back to the trenches. The two of them tumbled in together and lay in the trench bottom. The officer looked very tenderly on the would-be rescuer, and then he said, "I told you it wouldn't be worth it. Your friend is dead and you are mortally wounded."

"It was worth it though, sir," he said.

"How do you mean, worth it? I tell you, your friend is dead."

"Yes, sir," the boy answered, "but it was worth it because when I got to him he was still alive and he said to me, 'Jim, I knew you'd come.'"

There are a lot of folks out there, and there are some of them that only you can befriend. And on the day of judgment some of them are going to say, "I knew you'd come."

But others may say, "I waited for somebody to come and be my friend. I waited for somebody to come and show me the way of life. I waited for you. Why didn't you come?"

This past week I was thinking about the community where I grew up. Mr. and Mrs. Eb Wood lived next door. I never did really like Mr. Wood because if we ever hit a baseball in his yard, he would keep it. And if he saw us climbing over his fence to try to get the ball, he would come out of his house and give us a stern reprimand. And down the street lived Freddie Taylor. Freddie Taylor was a bully. I remember him throwing rocks at me one day when I came home from school. And I can't honestly say that I liked him. Mr. O'Quinn who lived next door was an alcoholic. I remember more than one time my dad having to go next door to help him in the house. He was so inebriated that he had fallen down in the yard and couldn't even get up. Bass Griffin lived down the street. He built houses. He had a rough, gruff voice. And I was afraid of him because he was so big and intimidating. I had a first cousin that lived behind our house, and he raised gamecocks. He raised chickens for chicken fights. And I always thought that was a dumb, cruel thing to do. And so, quite frankly, sometimes I saw my neighbors as cantankerous and obstreperous and not very easy to get along with. Do you have neighbors like that? Do you work with people like that? If you do, I bet I know what you think. Sometimes you think, "Well, they just deserve whatever they get."

Do you know what Jesus did when He saw people like that? He wept over them because they were like| sheep without a shepherd. He was moved with compassion upon them because He saw their lost condition. And Jesus became a friend of sinners. And He had fellowship with gluttonous men and winebibbers and tax collectors because He saw them headed for an eternity without God.

I wonder when are we going to see lost, wondering people as precious souls for whom Christ died? When are we going to build relationships with eternity in mind?

You see, one of the most indicting verses in all the Bible to me is Ezekiel 3:18, and I want you to hear what it says. God speaks and He says, “When I say to an unrighteous man, You will surely die; and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin and I will hold you accountable for his blood.”


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