Last week I ended up having a great conversation with a friend about community. It sparked some thoughts over the next few days that I would love to share with you.
We all want to feel known, loved and accepted unconditionally, we want to feel a part of something, we want to belong, to be unified with the people around us.
Timothy Keller said it like this, “To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.” (The Meaning of Marriage)
So, how do we build community. I think a lot of it is organic but I do think we have to be intentional with our relationships. Here are just a few thoughts:
Invest in the people who invest in you. (Now this rule isn’t hard and fast so please use discernment.) Here’s the thing, when people stick around, love us well, and invest in us we shouldn’t take that for granted. Invest back. It’s ok if it takes you a while but don’t push those people away, they just might become some of your closest friends. (There is a flipside to this one and that comes with knowing boundaries… but that’s another topic for another day.)
Be the kind of friend you want to have. It’s the golden rule you know. You want people to love you well? Love them well. You want people to be loyal? Be loyal. You want friends who don’t gossip about you? Don’t gossip.
Be vulnerable. We have to start being honest if we want to experience the fruit of true community. “My people” are the people who I can be completely raw and real with. They are those who celebrate with me in the joys and mourn with me when challenges come, and I rejoice and mourn with them. The hard part is starting. It is scary to put your heart out there but the reward is well worth the risk. (Again, I could go on forever but I’ll leave that for another time.)
A few years ago at a family Christmas we asked each person what was one lesson they had learned in life. Immediately I thought about a Proverb that says “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” (Proverbs 13:20) This verse has always reminded me of the importance of the people we surround ourselves with, our community. Jim Rohn says, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” I truly believe this and have seen it in my own life. So, choose wisely the people you surround yourself with, you will inevitably become like them.
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