In the previous posts in this series (sign up at the bottom of this email to receive all the posts for free) we have discussed methods for getting acquainted with our neighbors, building relationships with them, and having group events that will help all of us to get to know each other better. In order to avoid some of the common problems that can occur during this process, let’s look at some pitfalls to avoid.
1. Being Too Helpful
We have learned that deciding ahead of time how much time, energy, money or emotional strength we can devote to neighbors allows us to be in a better position to help the most people. We have discovered that we can not meet everyone’s needs. Not setting limits can cause us to grow weary in well doing and cause us to want to stop helping others.
We attempt to first help those who are least able to meet their own needs, and then help others as we are able. We try to use our resources to help many people, rather than use large amounts of time, money and energy to help one person or family. Some individuals and families have more needs than we are able to meet.
2. Not Keeping Confidences
Are you the kind of person in whom others confide? I am. I have a friend in whom no one confides. What is the difference? What you tell me goes no further.
On the other hand, the fastest way to spread news is to tell one of my friends. Of course, nobody confides in him. Well … nobody confides in him twice.
3. The Neighborhood Grinch
Is there someone in your neighborhood whom no one likes? Several of our neighbors have told us they will not attend group functions at our home if Mr. X is coming. How do we handle that? We do not invite that person to small functions, but we do invite him/her to large functions, such as our upcoming block/neighborhood party.
4. Being Self-Centered
When we meet someone do we use it as an opportunity to tell them all about ourselves, or as an opportunity to learn about them? Do we see it as our chance to tell our stories, or listen to theirs? Do we invite people to our home to show them our tastefully decorated home and souvenirs from our many travels or to get to know them better? Do we want to know people better so we will know what they can do for us (or will buy from us), or so we can get to know them and make a new friend? After they have told us about themselves and told us their stories, most people want to hear about us.
Avoiding these pitfalls will help us build long-term, loving relationships with our neighbors.
You might have noticed that I did not mention anything about sharing the gospel with your neighbors, inviting them to church, or asking them what they think of Jesus. That is because I will devote a whole post to this subject, which I will write about next time.
Between now and then, can you think of any other pitfalls to avoid when getting to know your neighbors? Share them with others by commenting below!