This Sunday, with the sun shining brightly the ice and crystals are casting rainbows and halos of light through the trees, the river blasting booms that can be heard as well as felt as the ice expands and explodes open to push the open water above the shelf, I find myself thinking about community and fellowship.
“This is the true joy in life – being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.” ~George Bernard Shaw
As always, I first went online to grab the common definitions of the words I would speak of. Community is a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common. It is also a feeling of “fellowship” with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests and goals. Fellowship is a friendly association with people who share one’s interests.
Community has from my own childhood meant so much to me. Safety, I think, came first. Community was to be surrounded by those who would protect and teach me, as a child. Then as a young adult, learning to serve, in the military, protecting and serving others.
Over the last few decades, community meant Chisana to me. People from all different walks of life, brought together to this wilderness area to create a life taking others who would come only to visit and experience something that they could not experience anywhere else. Again, serving, protecting and teaching in guiding them to adventures and sharing all we are and have with those that come to us.
More recently, during my time online as Alaska Chick and in my journey throughout Social Media, community has come to mean even more to me. Both, actually, community and fellowship have come to mean a great deal to me both in business as well as my personal life.
“Respect your fellow human being, treat them fairly, disagree with them honestly, enjoy their friendship, explore your thoughts about one another candidly, work together for a common goal and help one another achieve it.” ~Bill Bradley
As I have now begun reading Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life for the third time, I am in a constant state of discovery of not only my own purpose that God has for me, but the similarities between the lessons of this special book and everything good in our day to day lives.
Just last week, I read chapter 19 with new eyes. The title of the chapter 19 is Cultivating Community. The lessons in this chapter, that I took notes on, are astounding! Also enlightening were the overwhelming similarities to recent conversations I had shared with #bealeader™ CEO and founder Jen Olney.
Speaking of my life for our Father, God in Heaven, may be stretching some folk’s patience, but I would ask that you simply hear me out. Alaska Chick’s Blog existence has always been and will always continue to be a way for others to know who we are and what we stand for in a better way. No matter what Higher Power you, personally may look to for guidance, I believe the lessons I have learned from this book speak to us all.
Following, these are the incredible lessons I took from this one chapter that I would like to share with you today.
“Community requires commitment.”
“Cultivating community takes honesty. You will have to care enough to lovingly speak the truth, even when you would rather gloss over a problem or ignore an issue.”
“Most people have no one in their lives who loves them enough to tell them the truth.”
“Solomon said, ‘An honest answer is a sign of true friendship.’” (Proverbs 24:26 (TEV) )
“Paul says, “Brothers and sisters, if someone in your group does something wrong, you who are spiritual should go to that person and gently help make him right again.’” (Galatians 6:1-2 (NCV) )
“When conflict is handled correctly, we grow closer to each other.”
“Paul’s solution was straightforward: ‘No more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.’” (Ephesians 4:25 (Msg.) )
“The Bible says, ‘In the end, people appreciate frankness more than flattery.’” (Proverbs 28:23 (NLT) )
“Cultivating community takes humility.”
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”
“You can develop humility in very practical ways: by admitting your weaknesses, by being patient with others’ weaknesses, by being open to correction, and by pointing the spotlight on others.”
“Cultivating community takes courtesy. Courtesy is respecting our differences, being considerate of each other’s feelings, and being patient with people who irritate us.”
“In a family, acceptance isn’t based on how smart or beautiful or talented you are. It’s based on the fact that we belong to each other.”
“Another part of courtesy is not downplaying other people’s doubts. Just because you don’t fear something doesn’t make it an invalid feeling.”
“Cultivating community takes confidentiality.”
“God says, ‘Gossip is spread by wicked people; they stir up trouble and break up friendships.’” Proverbs 16:28 (TEV) )
“Cultivating community takes frequency.”
“You must have frequent, regular contact with your group in order to build genuine fellowship. Relationships take time.”
“You have to spend time with people ~ a lot of time ~ to build deep relationships.”
And finally, with this last excerpt and quote, I will tell you that with this last paragraph I knew that I would share this with not only my own family, friends and Team, but with you as well. It is also the moment that I knew that I would share it with someone whom I consider a dear friend and mentor, the leader of the community I spend the majority of my own time with, (#bealeader™ ) Jen Olney.
“If you are a member of a small group or class, I urge you to make a group covenant that includes the nine characteristics of biblical fellowship: We will share true feelings (authenticity), encourage each other (mutuality), support each other (sympathy), forgive each other (mercy), speak the truth in love (honesty), admit our weaknesses (humility), respect our differences (courtesy), not gossip (confidentiality), and make group a priority (frequency).
It absolutely solidified my own commitment to the #bealeader™ community as I finished the chapter. After all, each and every value that I had learned about that were the desired values and standards of a good and strong leader, were also the values and characteristics of the most important Path my life was following.
In every word, every gesture, Jennifer Onley walks her talk. As a human following a good and straight path and as the Leader to a good and strong community dedicated to serving others and leading the way into a future that will help us all become stronger, leading from where we each, already are. I am proud to be part of #bealeader™ and of the #bealeader™ community. I am proud to be following the path and purpose God has planned for me. (And I am thrilled beyond all words that I was blessed in that both communities are following the same path!)