5 Tips For College Students To Become Extraordinary Relationship Builders (For Men)

The quality and depth of our relationships make all the difference in the world. These 5 tips will help you become a great relationship builder.
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This is part two of a two-part series on relationship building for college students. Check out part one, which is geared towards women.

College can be one of the most exciting times in life. When I think back to my college days I have incredible memories.

Though I don’t remember all of my classes, professors, or assignments, I will always remember the exceptional friendships that were built. 

It was only with the help of my friends that I was able to connect the dots in my life, resolve some of the unfinished business from my past, and develop a faith in God that gave me a deeper understanding of relationships. 

The quality and depth of our relationships make all the difference in the world. Unfortunately, many people don’t have this experience.

relationship builder

We can make it a habit of hiding behind our mobile phones and digital screens instead of stepping out of our comfort zones to make face-to-face connections.

As a result, loneliness has become the “silent” epidemic of our new generation. In fact, according to a recent report, loneliness affects 64% of college students:

In a 2017 survey of nearly 48,000 college students, 64% said they had felt “very lonely” in the previous 12 months, while only 19% reported they never felt lonely, according to the American College Health Association.

The Unlonely Project

Fortunately, the Bible shows us how to become great relationship builders, and we’ve compiled 5 tips based on 1 Timothy 4:12 to guide us:

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

1 Timothy 4:12 NIV

By focusing on our speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity, we will learn how these apply and equip us in relationship building.

Faith: become a conqueror

For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, 4 for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith.

1 John 5:3-4 NRSV

This passage teaches us that faith in God is what gives us the power to conquer the world. And why is this important? We either get conquered by life or we develop the faith to conquer life.

When I was in college, I realized that I needed faith to conquer the anger and hatred I had towards family members. I also needed faith to face some difficult events I experienced in my past that really impacted me. 

The first and greatest victory is to conquer yourself; to be conquered by yourself is of all things most shameful and vile.

Plato

Studying the Bible equipped me to develop the faith I needed to begin to conquer the deep fear of disappointment I had. 

Since I was young, I developed an unhealthy habit of not giving my whole heart because of my fear of getting disappointed. This had a tremendous impact on how I built relationships with people, and I chose to be very guarded. 

The truth I was shown from the Bible helped me face this reality about why I had such difficulty being an effective relationship builder. As a result, this profoundly changed my perspective on relationships and how my relationships would grow going forward.  

Reflection questions

  • What do you need to conquer in your life?
  • How can you develop the faith to become a conqueror?

Love: resist superficiality

You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart.

1 Peter 1:22 NLT

This passage calls us to love each other deeply from the heart. Depth of heart can be a very foreign concept when we are caught up in the busyness of college, especially for most guys.

Many guys like to “bond” by talking about sports, girls, drugs/alcohol, parties, academics, and video games and walk away convinced they made a deep connection.

When my friend in college helped me uncover a memory I had suppressed in my past, it changed my life. The depth of his friendship led me to go back to relationships I avoided in order to have some uncomfortable but life-changing conversations.

Unfortunately, most men shy away from developing emotional awareness and depth because of the fear of the unknown, looking weak, or feeling emotions.

Building Close Relationships

Because my friend was loving enough to be patient and understanding with me, I was able to learn how to build rather than ignore relationships.  

Unfortunately, most men shy away from developing emotional awareness and depth because of the fear of the unknown, looking weak, or feeling emotions. This is why settling for superficiality is easier.

Ultimately it’s rooted in fear, which undermines our ability to build close relationships (1 John 4:18). When we resist superficiality, we not only develop deep friendships but also learn how to truly love. 

Reflection questions

  • Examine the quality of your relationships. Are they defined by superficiality or depth? 
  • What fears hold you back from developing depth in relationships?
  • Who does God want you to develop a deep friendship with? 

Conduct: embrace integrity

Close relationships are built on trust, and a lack of integrity will destroy them. Integrity is the difference between being all-in (deeply loyal and committed) or half-hearted in our efforts or commitments. 

Hold on to loyal love and don’t let go, and be faithful to all that you’ve been taught. Let your life be shaped by integrity, with truth written upon your heart.

Proverbs 3:3 TPT

This scripture addresses the importance of integrity and how it should shape our lives. Our integrity gets tested when we face difficulty. Yet in these challenging moments, we must dig deeper spiritually and rely on God for the internal strength to endure.

Integrity means standing up for what you believe in, even if you think everybody else is against you. God is the only one who can provide you with the inner strength to hold to what you believe (Psalm 18:31-35).

When you do this with love and faithfulness, people around you have a chance to get inspired by your determination. Deep and lasting friendships are forged during times like these.

Weak friendships are built from allowing compromise and complacency, but deep friendships are forged when we choose to live with integrity.

Building Close Relationships

It is important to watch your conduct in all areas of your life, including schoolwork, hobbies, music, and anything you spend time doing.

There have been countless times I have attempted to turn around my relationship with God without changing specific areas in my life. This has resulted in my efforts to change being unsuccessful.

A great relationship with God should be measured by the depth of our relationships and how we handle the pressures that come with school and work. The heart is what shines through in adversity, not the actions that you choose to take.

Weak friendships are built from allowing compromise and complacency, but deep friendships are forged when we choose to live with integrity. 

Reflection questions

  • What areas in your life are you refusing to change?
  • Who is a friend that you can change with together this week?

Purity: treat with respect

Since you have purified yourselves by your obedience to the truth, so that you show sincere brotherly love for each other, from a pure heart love one another constantly…

1 Peter 1:22 CSB

Having a pure heart as the scripture talks about is not only essential to building close relationships, but it also determines how we treat and respect those around us.

Choosing to use people and things for your own pleasure shows your two greatest loves:  pleasure and self.

Honor the older women as mothers, and the younger women, treat as your dear sisters with utmost purity…

1 Timothy 5:2 TPT

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves … lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 NIV

A man who is impure loves himself and pleasure instead of loving God and others. Failing to act with respect for others will leave us powerless.

God says that we should turn ourselves away from men who are like this. We may have a form of godliness and sociability on the outside, but lack the power that comes from spirituality and love to build close relationships. To be great relationship builders, we must prioritize purity.

In college, something that kept my roommates and I close was knowing that we were helpless to fight impurity on our own. In order to fight the temptation of impurity and sensuality, you must see people as human rather than objects used for pleasure or self-promotion.

To do this we must learn to love God and others more than ourselves. This begins with welcoming the influence of scriptures and spiritual friends on our hearts and lives.  Who do you allow to spiritually influence you? 

Reflection questions

  • What impurity sins do you need to be open about that are keeping you from being close to the people around you? (See Colossians 3:5-9 for help identifying specific impurity sins)
  • What is one thing you can do to love God and the people around you more than yourself this week?

Speech: consider the impact of your words

The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.

Proverbs 18:21 NLT

The Bible teaches us that our words are very powerful. This particular passage talks about our tongue bringing death or life to those who are listening to us.

It’s so easy to talk before thinking or to be inconsiderate of others and how our words affect them. 

I remember how my words negatively impacted one of my good friends, and I was oblivious. Fortunately, he was honest with me even though I was resistant to listening.

I had the hardest time taking responsibility. In my heart, I blamed him for being too sensitive. I clearly didn’t take my words and their impact seriously.

After a few humbling relationship experiences, I realized my friend was right that I was inconsiderate. I learned from it and started to develop a conscience about the impact of my words.

The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.

Proverbs 18:21 NLT

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

Ephesians 4:29 NLT

Reflection questions

  • Do your words, jokes, or sarcasm bring death or life to those around you?
  • How seriously do you consider the impact of your words?
  • What do those words and conversations reveal about your heart? (Luke 6:45)
  • What heart change do you need to embrace that will lead you to be a great relationship builder?
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