By Marissa Druken, Summer Student at Connexus Church
This Summer at Connexus we want to continue to be “FOR” our friends, neighbours, and co-workers. Being for someone can take on many different approaches. I hope that one thing you discover is that in the end, being for your neighbours can help YOU more than it could help anyone else. I learned this when I went on my first mission trip to Tanzania. I went over there with the mindset that I was going to change their lives forever, but in reality when I came home I realized that they changed my life. Being intentional about being for someone pushes you to go outside of your comfort zone and allows the Lord to grow you in new ways. Here are a few ideas on how anybody can be a good neighbour and be for your neighbours this summer!
1. Remembering People’s Names
This may seem like an obvious step in connecting with a neighbour, but let me explain. When you meet a new person for the first time, you should write down their name in your phone and include any information they tell you about their children, their hobbies, how their parents are doing, anything! When you meet them again bring up something they mentioned beforehand (they will probably figure you forgot, it will show you are interested in their lives). If people feel like you are genuinely interested in them, they'll be be inclined to share even more. When someone understands and knows what you are going through in life, it is easier to go to that person if you ever need them.
2. Be Available
This means that if a neighbour needs an extra hand, some sugar, eggs, or maybe they need a boost for their car, be available to say yes. The easier it is to keep in contact with you, the easier it is for that relationship to grow. So, answer your phone calls, text back right away, and never let it go too long without any communication. If you say no to someone the first time (or you wait forever to call/text them back), they are less likely to come back to you again if they need anything the next time. If people can feel like you are there for them, eventually you can show them that God is also there for them.
3. Focus In
Pick four people to be FOR. Author Jon Hambrick simplified the fact that we all feel like we have to help everyone, so instead we end up helping no one. He explained that we should decide to connect to a few people, not everyone. You simply don't have time to have the in depth conversations and interactions with people if you are trying to be there for everyone. Maybe you have learned from experience, but it is much easier to perform your best at one task than it is to try your best at many different tasks. Think of the old saying “It’s about quality, not quantity”. If you haven't let us know you'd like to be FOR 4, click here to let us know!
4. Get Outside
This may seem simple but it can take a lot of time. Tend to your gardens with a smile and wave to your neighbours when you see them. Walk to get your mail and greet them with an invitation to conversation; “Hey, watch the game last night?” Or maybe you can walk their recycling bins to the top of their driveway; it only takes a few steps. To make those connections and bridge the gap between you and your neighbours, they need to see that you are friendly and available. People need to see that you are home to feel as if they can knock on your door for anything. It will make the transition from just a neighbour to a friend more likely as the weeks go by.
5. Plan Something
This could be a BBQ, taking your dogs for a walk together, a game night at your place, anything that is FUN. Invite people who you do not normally see or people who do not have close connections with anyone in your community. Shared experiences are where relationships and conversations grow! The people in your life that you have inside jokes with are there because you have spent quality time with them, you have worked for that relationship. New relationships take time.
6. Stay In Touch
If it has been a while since you have spoken to your neighbour (or even one of the people you are FOR), then reach out. It never hurts to send out a text message or give them a call. Here are some lines to help prompt you:
- “Hey, I haven't seen you in a while! We are taking the kids out for some ice cream. Would you like to join us?”
- “Hey, I saw you were working on your garage. Need a hand?”
- “Would you like to go for a walk with me? I can meet you at your place.”
One thing to remember is that if you are putting in as much effort as you can to invest in a relationship, you have to understand that you can only do so much. Relationships are a 2-way street! If the person you are investing in continues to decline any hand you are reaching out then sit back and pray. You never know when they'll take you up on your offer to help or connect – it may even be when you least expect it!
About Marissa: My name is Marissa Druken I was born in St. John's Newfoundland, but I have lived my whole life in Oro-Medonte. I go to Trent University for International Development Studies in the Teacher Stream. I am working with Connexus as a summer student in Student Ministry. I love to travel (I’ve been to Tanzania, Kenya, and Ecuador, I’ve road tripped over half of the United States, and I am always planning my next adventure), I am a varsity athlete on the rowing team at Trent, and in the summertime I am a rowing coach at the Barrie Rowing Club. I love to read and be very active. I have attended Connexus for a year and a half now, at the Orillia Campus. My life goal is to become an elementary school teacher, and change the world one child at a time.