People are going to bug you. Of course, you never bug them, right? 🙂
One of the biggest obstacles that exists in the development of relationships and community is how we handle annoyances. The truth is most of us aren’t very good at it. Most parents don’t train their kids at it because most parents aren’t trained at it.
The problem here is that in the places where people don’t learn how to handle these situations, there you will find a lack of community. Or you will find a young community that hasn’t imploded from within yet.
Truth be told, this is one of the main reasons why the institutional church structure is so popular in many cultures (although most people aren’t cognitively aware this is the case). It limits annoyance between people to as low of a level you can go and still feel justified enough to call yourself a “community” of believers. You get together once in a while, have very little interaction, and you can always retreat to the comfort of your own home or flee to another institution (who hasn’t done THAT before right!?).
If a group of people desires to experience healthy biblical-organic-church life-Kingdom community, it’s a prerequisite that they learn to deal with and accept with open arms the inevitable annoyances that will occur between themselves.
If they can, the community will have a chance. If they can’t, they’ll move on to other endeavors where they can avoid annoyances (and the cross in their lives) and embrace comfort.
What do you expect?
The first step to being able to do this is adjusting your mindset and expectations. Community is not getting together a bunch of people that you hand pick because you like them. It’s not having parties and inviting only the people that aren’t annoying.
Community is living life together with those around you regardless of age, ability, personality or your personal feelings about them. Hand-picking people you like to fellowship with is the individualist’s approach to community and has no place in the Kingdom.
Remember who ended up in Jesus’ community? Man, they were some real doozies weren’t they?!?
It really helps when you can go in to relationships expecting what is to come. It makes it much easier to deal with it when it arrives. Many groups start anew with the false delusion that they will show up, let Jesus rule and reign among them and live happily ever after. While that may be the case in the Kingdom to come, it is no way-not a chance-you can forget about it in the Kingdom here and now.
You can expect that people will not keep their commitments. You can expect they will not keep their word. You can expect their preferences will not always be the same as yours. You can expect to have your buttons pushed. And the list goes on…
Training is a must
But, how do the people in the community deal with these situations? Do they ignore them? Do they attack and blame? Do they create divisions and quarrels among you? Or do they embrace them and see them as an opportunity to grow relationships?
There will be all levels of annoyances that occur, and some you just need to learn to live with. But others will require resolution. When they do, the community has to be trained in what to do. You can’t be so optimistic as to believe that your group will be able to handle conflict when it arises. Sometimes simply having conversations doesn’t solve the problems. If the people aren’t trained with how to love in the midst of conflict, most of the time the conversations will just escalate everyone’s emotions.
But if they can get training about how to work through conflict in love; they can get the knowledge, structure and experience that God pre-planned would help transform us into little Christs, express His character and expand His Kingdom on the earth. Then the group just might make it for the long haul.