How to Be a Good Neighbor
- Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Record information about your neighbors on a chart. Draw a chart in which your home is at the center. Then include eight other boxes that represent the homes of your eight closest neighbors. Inside those boxes, write down a list of whatever facts you can about the people who live in those homes: their names, and anything else you might already know about them. Then use that chart to gradually add information as you connect with your neighbors. The chart then can help you remember details about the people you meet.
Check your motives. Make your goal loving your neighbors unconditionally, whether or not they choose to begin relationships with Jesus or grow closer to Him. Don’t view your neighbors as projects you must work on to convert or change. Instead, see them simply as people whom Jesus calls you to befriend. As you do, opportunities to talk about your faith who come naturally as you share the story of who you are and what’s important to you. Never force sharing your faith; trust God to lead you to do so naturally for the best results.
Get to know your neighbors. Seek out opportunities to meet and talk with your neighbors so you can begin the process of befriending them. Approach them to start a simple conversation while they’re out in their yards, bring a pie or some other treat to their doors and introduce yourself, or take a walk around your neighborhood and look for neighbors to meet. Host a block party, or invite neighbors over one household at a time for a meal at your home.
Give what you have. Even a small amount of effort can make a big, positive difference in your neighbor’s lives. When you give whatever you have to give to reaching out to your neighbors, God will multiply it to bring about miraculous results in your relationships with Him and your neighbors, and God will also empower you to keep giving as you go along.
Be willing to receive. Keep in mind that healthy friendships are two-sided relationships where both parties give and receive to and from each other. Don’t just give without receiving. Pray for help to be humble and vulnerable in your relationships. Allow your neighbors to help you when they offer and you could use help with something.
Set boundaries. Pray for the discernment you need to set healthy boundaries with your neighbors so you all don’t resent each other. Be responsible to love, encourage, bless, pray, and serve people, but don’t take on responsibility for your neighbors’ choices, emotions, or circumstances.
Focus on the most promising relationships. While you should be friendly with all of your neighbors, you can realistically only build close friendships with a few of them. Focus on investing most of your efforts on the few neighbors who prove to be the most open and responsive to you.
Forgive neighbors who offend you. Overlook minor annoyances by giving your neighbors grace, and work to resolve major conflicts. Pursue healing by following Jesus’ command to forgive in every situation, and whenever possible, work to reconcile relationships.
Adapted from The Art of Neighboring: Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside Your Door, copyright 2012 by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon. Published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Mich., www.bakerbooks.com.
Jay Pathak is the senior pastor of the Mile High Vineyard, located in a suburb northwest of Denver, Colorado. Prior to planting this church in 2001, he served at the Columbus Vineyard as a leader in its young-adult ministry, Joshua House, and as an intern to the senior pastor, Rich Nathan. Jay is a graduate of Ohio State University with a BA in philosophy and a graduate of the Vineyard Leadership Institute. He has spoken nationally and internationally for the Vineyard and other groups in both conference and classroom settings. Currently he serves on the National Board of Vineyard USA. Jay and his wife, Danielle, have two daughters. Visit his church’s website at: www.milehighvineyard.org.
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