Thursday - Act On It - Neighbours to Acquaintances
Time and availability allows us to get acquainted with those near us. You may be discouraged, thinking I’m talking about adding things to your already busy schedule. Sometimes that’s necessary, but usually it’s just about making intentional choices to Love God, Love Neighbour in the midst of daily life.
Think about your downtime – how can downtime connect me with neighbours?
First, be interruptible. I used to have a retired neighbour who was often outside, and always up for a chat. His availability meant I could ask him for a ladder, to get the mail while we were away, etc. My availability to stop and chat meant he could ask me questions about the theology of the church he grew up attending.
You can also make other choices. Stick around on weekends instead of going away. Play in the front yard instead of the back. Putter around your garden, walk the neighbourhood, and read on your porch.
Ask questions, talk about the weather, laugh about something that happened. Ask for referrals – who did your driveway/kitchen/landscaping? Ask about the neighbourhood – how’s X doing? Share something – let someone park in your driveway for a party, or share newspapers.
As you do, get to know their name, and then a bit of their story.
Challenge: Look at your calendar and see how you spend your time over the last two weeks. Reflect on how this compares with your priorities. How can you spend more time with your neighbours, to get acquainted?
Last week, I told you story of my old neighbour who helped build a deck. He nicely represented the transition from strangers to neighbours to acquaintances to partners. Today we’ll go one step further. We’ll talk about becoming friends with those we work with, those we help, and those we live around.
When I was a volunteer paramedic, I remember one partner in particular. We did several shifts together, and on calls he was always nervous, and second-guessing himself, which could be challenging to work with. One day, he invited me to supper. I met his family, saw his home and farm, and in the process learned about him and his values. The next shift we had together was different. I found we could communicate better, and I could anticipate his moves. Debriefing the call afterwards was easier. I knew this quirks, where they came from, and could work from a place of partnership and friendship rather than tolerance.
This has wider application than the workplace, but some good examples of how important this is follow from a few studies:
50 percent of employees with a best friend at work reported that they feel a strong connection with their company, compared to just 10 percent of employees without a best friend at work. (A 2012 Gallup report which found that)
People planning to stick with their current job cited “good relationship with co-workers” as the major reason (67%) – above “job satisfaction” (63%), “flexible working arrangements” (57%) and even salary (which ranked seventh at 46%). A 2013 survey of 2,223 business people across Australia
In the same way, being a follower of Jesus isn’t just about doing transactions, like dealing with other followers of Jesus because you have to, or caring for others in need simply because it looks good.
We’re actually meant to become friends with those we care for, and those we care with. Not every single one to the same degree maybe, but we are actually meant to have a relationship with those we encounter in this life, and not simply use people or tolerate others.
We’ll focus this week on those we care for, those we’ve been talking about all along, and becoming friends.
Question: When have you unexpectedly “hit it off” with someone at work?