The Flip-side of Community

Over at my new friend Kim’s blog Just Add Tea, she recently shared some things she’d been learning about community:

[Citing an article] [I]t’s what followed that struck me most: “Somewhere along the lines we have lost the concept of true community and our lives are now focused purely on ourselves, our needs and those in our circle of close friends and family. We rarely give any time to those outside the circle unless it’s convenient for us. (Oh the pain and shame, as I just saw me in this reality.) We don’t like to be inconvenienced. But how can we help people if we are never prepared to be inconvenienced? How can we help people if we are never prepared to be uncomfortable?”

Since I’ve got back from overseas, I’ve been forced to think about the flip-side of that coin. Pride is a funny sin; it seems to be able to take over both sides. I love helping people; I’m a people person, and I get great personal joy & satisfaction from getting alongside others and pulling with them to get something done. But I’m a terrible people-pleaser too; the idea of letting somebody down terrifies me (although more on that in a second).

This came to a head for me when I tried to do everything I had been doing after a draining month of travel. I survived a week and a half, then crunched into a wall when I realised I simply couldn’t keep doing all the things I’d been doing.

What to do? Who to say “Sorry, but I can’t” to? I HATE saying no to people! What will they think of me? Ah, ahhh. There’s the rub. There’s pride, poking its face around the corner. Pride, telling me that what people think of me is actually the most important reason to serve. How twisted *bah*

I’m learning to rest; hopefully there’ll be another post about that soon. But how does this relate to Kim’s reflections above?

Well, I’m realising the corollary to Kim’s point. Just as truly being part of a community means letting yourself be inconvenienced in order to love others, you must also let others inconvenience themselves (or be inconvenienced) in order to love you. To fail to do so is just another way that pride creeps in and taints our lives.

So here’s to repentance. Here’s to being humble enough to say no. To being humble enough to let someone else help carry your burdens when things are heavy. To bearing each other’s burdens, and so fulfilling the love of Christ. To the community of God’s family :)

Photo: A helping hand by Forest Runner on flickr. Used under Creative Commons :)


Stephen McDonald
Thanks for this. My navel-gazing is currently oriented in similar directions.