January 19, 2008

Finding and Keeping Community

This weekend, I have read several selections from Martin Luther Kings, Jr.'s Where Do We Go From Here, his last book and the one I referenced in the previous post. In the last post, I also reflected upon how tragically close we have come to chaos.

What can we do about this move toward chaos? The trend is strong, but not irresistible.

Let's begin by finding and keeping community wherever we can. For some, home may be the starting point. For some, it may be school, a group or club, an informal circle of friends, a church, or a support group. Aren't we already doing this? Some of us are, but not enough of us and not enough of us with intense intentionality.

Here are my suggestions for finding and keeping community:

1. Select at least one place as a location where you will invest in modeling the elements of community, communion, and common-unity.

2. Consistently practice honestly, kindness, and courtesy in speech in your place of community.

3. Identify and fill a need in your place of community. Chose your contribution based on your skills, abilities, and available time/resources. Be pro-active and don't wait to be asked. If you are pro-active, you will not feel undue pressure if you later need to say "no" to a request for time, money, etc.

4. Accept that others will challenge the building of community. The challenge will take many appearances and is always a spiritual conflict. This is especially true if you are trying to reclaim or regain a space marked by high degrees of chaos. Focus on process, not immediate outcomes. Focusing on process is personally and corporately transformative. Focusing on immediate outcomes turns you into a worrier.

5. In prayer, ask God to sustain your commitment to community. Pay daily attention to your thoughts, words, and actions. Be the change you want to see. Go easy on yourself, but hold yourself to the highest standard and be gentle with others. Demonstrate the value of your values. Trust God for the final outcome.

6. You don't have to announce your intentions. If you practice these steps consistently, others who want the same things will find you and join with you. This is not a Lone Ranger pursuit.

It may take more than any of our lifetimes to re-trend away from chaos. Still, it it worth the investment of time and energy. Community building is a good legacy. What else is more valuable? What better way to spend your time and your gifts?

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