In view of our yearly theme, ‘Loving Our Neighbors’, I thought that I would share with you a few simple, yet impactful, ways that you can be more neighborly, be it in your front yard or running errands around town.
Please note, simply doing these things doesn’t make you more neighborly, but the idea is to intentionally do these simple things to be in a better position to reach out and be an encouragement to others for the glory of God.
So, without further ado, here are 8 simple things to consider:
1. Don’t use the drive through
Now, the mother of 4 might just read this one with a slight hint of incredulity, so allow me to clarify… if staying in your car is not an issue of survival but rather convenience, then consider going inside. Think of the folks you might meet while waiting for your prescription. You could build a relationship with the person who gets your coffee each morning. Caveat: if your errand is getting a car wash, stay in your car.
2. Join a Gym
Nothing builds friendships like the mutual experience of pain. Sure, working out at home with two chunky soup cans may be an economically sound strategy, but it’s not very social. Getting into a fitness class or just being around people, not in a work environment, is part of being a good neighbor. You have to interact with people, and apparently people work out… or so I am told.
3. Take your earphones off
I know you want to finish the last chapter of Harry Potter on your audio book before the nurse calls your name, but God placed people around you and He may just want you to bear witness to His goodness and kindness by talking to them, using words and everything.
Ok, maybe a phased approach is good. Try just taking a break from Journey’s greatest hits and just be available to talk. Maybe pick one workout to leave the headphones in your gym bag, and make an effort to say one encouraging thing to someone you don’t know well… yet. Don’t stop believing that God wants to use you to represent Him.
4. Say Hi
It’s not about if you know them or not, it is about being aware of other people. Each man, woman and child was made in the image of God and reflects His handiwork. Acknowledging their presence is a good start, and really easy.
Remember, the focus is you being more neighborly. Not everyone will respond, and some may give you their life story after 30 seconds, but the point is that a good neighbor is neighborly, wherever they may be at that moment.
5. Ask for help
No one likes hanging out with someone who knows everything, it’s simply demoralizing to everyone else. That is why MacGyver didn’t have any friends.
When you ask someone for help you really are extending yourself in a way that acknowledges someone else’s gifts, and welcomes them into your life in a small way. People are drawn to the humble, and nothing is more humble than genuinely asking for help.
6. Buy a soda
You kind of have to know them a little bit to do this. Strangers giving away Diet Dr. Pepper is just weird. Of course, giving away the non-diet version to complete strangers is fine.
I had a coworker who, I think it was the first or second day working together, just brought me back a soda from the vending machine. It wasn’t my favorite kind, they didn’t ask me if I wanted one, they just were thirsty and got one for me also. It really impacted me that they thought about me.
Now who knows, maybe they put in the wrong change or just got lucky and two came out. I will never know, but that simple gesture was powerful and we ended up being close friends in part because of something so simple but so relational.
7. Be outside
There is something about walking around in your neighborhood or hanging out in your front yard that makes people more likely to talk to each other.
Maybe you see someone the first time and you don’t talk right away, but after a little bit you start to recognize each other and it is just easy to strike up a conversation because there is a bit of familiarity. “Hey you look familiar, do you live in this neighborhood”, “Yeah I live just down the street”. “oh cool how long have you lived here”…”where are you from originally”, “whats your garage code” etc.
The other option is knocking on people’s doors and asking them to be your friend. I think it is less effective unless, of course, you have girl scout cookies. I would have listed going around handing out free girl scout cookies as one of the items on this list, but in case you don’t know, it is really hard to give away girl scout cookies… they are so good it is hard just to let others know that you are in possession of girl scout cookies, let alone offer them; in any case, people probably would think you did something weird to them. I am just assuming they would think that, I don’t have any empirical evidence.
8. Sing “Let it go” loud and often
Ok, this could back fire completely or you may meet your new best friend. It probably depends on how good of a singer you are. Regardless, the point here is don’t take yourself too seriously. You will be a lot more comfortable to be around, and people will be more willing to be themselves around you.
It can be so easy to think about yourself when you are supposed to be a good neighbor. “Do they like my lawn flamingos?”, “did I just say something foolish?” etc. Just be ready to laugh at yourself and invite new people into your life, they may just like it, and you might as well.
Most importantly, God will be glorified as you represent Him.