by Susie Shellenberger
Jamie always had a crowd around her. She wasn’t especially knock-out gorgeous.
She usually had a couple of zits, and she wasn’t exceptionally good at sports. But she was one of the most popular students at school. Everyone loved her!
Jamie was like a magnet. Wherever she went, someone wanted to be with her. It wasn’t unusual for Jamie to be seen listening to one of the football players share a problem with her or to see her showing a new student how to get to the biology lab.
Why? What was it about Jamie that made everyone notice her? If her looks and her talents weren’t anything to brag about, what did she have going for her? Here it is — short and simple — Jamie had learned the secret of being popular. She knew how to make friends and keep them.
So let’s just get really basic, OK? You may already know all this. But if you want to have good friends and be a good friend, it’s time for some reminders.
Jamie’s secret to popularity isn’t something a rocket scientist has to figure out. It’s actually very basic:
Jamie was NICE TO EVERYONE.
Wait a sec, you’re thinking. That’s too easy. There’s gotta be more to popularity than that!
Yeah, there are a few more strategies we’ll talk about in a few seconds, but the biggest secret of all — the one thousands of teens try to skip over — is simply being nice to everyone.
Jamie was as kind to the new student who had no friends at all as she was to the football player. She had friends in the band and friends in drama. She refused to associate only with one group of people. Because she was kind to everyone, people responded by wanting to be around her.
OK, as mentioned a few lines earlier, there are some additional strategies that go along with Jamie’s big secret of being nice to everyone. Ready to tackle them? Let’s take a few minutes on each one.
There’s something intriguing about someone who smiles a lot, isn’t there? We’re automatically drawn to someone who’s happy. And wearing a smile usually implies that the person behind it is approachable.
If people know you’re approachable, they’ll start coming to you. And how will they know? Well, you’ll make them feel at ease; comfortable. And how does that happen? By smiling. A smile is an open invitation to be approached. It says, “You can talk to me. I’ll be friendly with you. Really. It’s OK. I’m not going to hurt you.”
A smile also conveys something else that’s really important when making friends. A smiling person insinuates confidence. (That was really a great point. Did you get it? Or did you just zoom by it quickly? Well, to make sure you get it, let’s go over it again, K?)
SMILING INSINUATES CONFIDENCE.
I can already hear your thoughts screaming through the page at me. But I’m not confident, Susie. I feel insecure, and I’m always worried about what I look like and what everyone else is thinking, and —
Whoa. Go grab some lemonade from the fridge and cool off. I said insinuates, not proves. In other words, a smile suggests that you’re confident. You don’t have to actually feel confident to smile. But when you do, people will think you’re confident. Cool, huh? (Watch the lemonade. You’re starting to drip.)
But here’s something even cooler: The longer you practice smiling — even in intimidating situations — the sooner your smile will catch up with you. In other words, you’ll start to believe what the smile stands for. You’ll gain confidence from smiling! No, it won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. I promise.
Let me introduce you to 16-year-old Jenny. I met Jenny along with 300 other teen girls that I took to Brazil with me on a two-week missions trip. On the final night of the trip, several girls stepped up to the microphone and shared what God had taught them during the past few days.
Smiling from ear to ear, Jenny shared her story. “When I was 11, I was in a terrible car accident,” she said. “My bottom teeth were knocked out — causing my mouth to be disfigured. I struggled a lot with having low self-esteem and thought I was ugly. But you know what? God has shown me that I have a beautiful smile! And my smile is something I can give to everyone I meet. Because He can use my smile to minister to others and to encourage those around me, I no longer have to worry about my outer appearance. God is using my smile!”
Wow. Jenny had learned the secret of flashing a sensational smile. And she was right! God was using her smile. Jenny always had a crowd of people around her. She was approachable, easy to talk to and she genuinely cared about others. Know what else? She was beginning to feel the confidence that her smile suggested!
What about you? Will you make a point to start working right now on developing a sensational smile? Just for fun … since you’ve already dripped lemonade all over this page anyway … I’ll leave some space here for you to doodle on. Know what I want you to doodle? Smiles. Make as many as you want. Big ones. Little ones. Funny ones. Magnetic ones. Create a million smiles right here, and I’ll grab a Coca-Cola and meet you back here next month. We’re not finished. Next month, you’ll learn some more secrets to being popular. When you know how to make friends and keep them, God can use you to minister to your friends. Start doodling!