As I spent an evening with friends from a small community, I was reminded how extremely powerful a small group working together with shared values and priorities can be. In our case, we were a group of five. Over time others have considered themselves adopted, yet the core strength has always come from the original team. Even though one of the group's members has passed, his spirit remains part of what makes the group what it was and is.
The keys that made this group a great community included the following. First, everyone was in it for the benefit of the greater good. I cannot recall ever talking about doing what was right, thinking about others, or focusing on what it meant to be a community. I knew I was part of a community. The actions of others told me that our focus was on helping each other. This was a deeply caring community.
Second, we understood each other's strengths and weaknesses. Everyone's abilities were on full display. We did not ignore each other's gaps; we worked together to do what was needed in order that the team could achieve the goals. We nurtured each other's growth, dialoging on what was needed to win. As I look back, we accomplished the impossible in large part because we always started and ended with teamwork.
Third, we stood up for what was right. We were not always liked. At times, different individuals (myself right at the top of the list) made mistakes. The team held each other and others accountable. It was an old model revitalized. Just as “the people wouldn't have stood for it [healers going to jail]-they were all praising God over what had happened. The man who had been miraculously healed was over forty years old.” (Acts 4.22) We defended the values and priorities we held to be true.
I love that community. I find myself aspiring to recreate it in every relationship I am in. I often fail, yet it is in trying that I find myself knowing what it means to be alive.
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