Over the last few weeks, I’ve written a lot about our own personal spiritual lives, but this week, I want us to focus on looking outward. I specifically want us to look at our communities and how we serve them.
Community is so important. We know ‘No man is an island/entire of itself…’ We need community around us, whether that is a physically close community, like a village or town, a traditional religious community like a church, or even an online community.
But community can be really, really draining. When you’re giving much more than you’re receiving, that’s not helpful for you. So this week, I want us to reflect on the communities we serve, what we’re giving, what we’re getting out of them and whether that’s the right use of our time.
Where is your community?
Firstly, identify the communities you are part of. This may well take some time: perhaps you want to look beyond your spiritual commitments to other things you’ve committed time to. List the real, physical communities and your online communities.
How do you serve each community?
What is your role? This might be a formal role, either as a leader or a helper, or it might simply be that you are a community member.
You might have a regular commitment. Or you might do a few random acts of kindness every now and again. You might like to think about a typical week or a typical month and identify the different things you do.
How much time does it take?
I imagine, for many people, this will be a big one. Serving in a community can take several hours a week. If we’re spending 12 hours a week serving our community and 40 hours at work, where is our rest time? Where is our family time?
Perhaps you want to serve that much, and you’re content with that. That’s brilliant. Alternatively you might realise that you’re not really part of a community that you want to spend time with. That’s something you will want to change.
What do you get out of it?
I’m not talking about this in a grabby kind of way. I’m talking about our time being precious, and that we should really value it. So if you are spending hours each week doing something that you really hate because it’s for your community, you need to rethink that. If there’s someone who could do that job better than you, because they have more time, energy or skills, it’s time to pass it on.
Much community work can be a bit laborious, but knowing that it benefits others is enough. Yes, cleaning up after snack time at playgroup isn’t the most glamorous job, but knowing you’re part of an essential service for families may well be enough.
Does it use your skills, gifts and interests?
Most of the time, we serve our communities in way that benefit them. We’re an extra pair of hands. I wouldn’t say looking after the toddlers and babies in the church creche is one of my strengths, but that’s where the church needs me at the moment (plus I have a very clingy toddler who won’t often let me leave). But also, we need to serve our communities in way that get the best out of us.
Have a think about your skills. Can you use your skills to benefit your community? Do you know you have certain gifts and talents but you’re hiding them? Resolve to get out there and use them!
The next steps…
Decide what you’d like your community commitment to look like over the next year.
What steps do you need to take to get there?
What do you need to stop doing?
What do you need to start doing?
This is our final post on Faith in The Organised Life Project. If you missed the others, you can find them here:
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