The Value of Community
Jazzercise class on Saturday was super exciting. We had the Halloween class. The instructors changed Halloween costumes and gave us a terrific class. It was an absolute delight. I was so happy to belong to this community. I left the class just smiling to myself. Belonging to a community is important. I value my family, social, church and work community and I thank God for the sense of belonging and love and support I get and give in each of those communities.
1. The type of Community is important
As much as it is important to belong to a community, the type of community our teens choose to belong to is even more important. Proverbs 13:20 says “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” It really does matter the communities our teens hang out in. When we are counseling teens, one of the points we make to them is the importance of who they hang out with. If their best friends are regular drug users, this could unfortunately rub off on them. Sometimes, it’s as simple as being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I’ve seen teens who were otherwise good kids arrested because they just happened to be in a car or house when a drug deal was going down. Be diligent about finding out who your teens hang out with. Some parents regularly invite their teens’ friends over to their homes and that helps them get to know them better. Others offer to drive them for activities and quietly listen in as the kids chat in the car. We have to teach our teens to hang with “wise men”.
2. Contributing to the community
Contributing to a valued community is key to increasing your sense of belonging. Your compassionate and faithful contribution to community makes both you and your community stronger. If you stick a seed in the ground and don’t water it or tend the plant as it grows, chances are, it will not give you much produce. It’s the same in every relationship. We must teach our teens the value of contributing to community. Members of a community support each other during difficult times and laugh with each other during a joyful season. Community lifts you up in times of sorrow and it is the people choosing to invest in their community that makes all the difference.
3. Community begins at home
How we treat each other in our home communities teaches our teens how to treat others in the other communities they belong to. Teens learn a lot by observing how their parents interact with each other and with others in society. If you go around being rude to everyone you meet, don’t be surprised if your teens behave the same way both at home and in public. Parents are their teens’ first role models and how you behave in your communities significantly impacts how your teens behave in theirs.
4. Choosing your own community
I met a very fascinating lady who told me how she chose her own community as a teen. She was in an unstable family home in which there was no dad and she was constantly verbally abused by her mom. She said she noticed when she visited her best friend that the relationships there were very different from her home community. She decided to belong to that community even if it was only part of the time and to learn as much as she could by interacting in that community. Her friend’s parents welcomed her and treated each other and their children with respect. She learned how to love and live in a normal family environment and how to belong to and contribute to a community. Today, she is married with children of her own and her family belongs to a wonderful community. You can’t help the family you are born into but you can choose the community you belong to. We have to teach our teens to learn from the good communities they find themselves a part of. You only have to read the papers or go on the internet to find people who were born into difficult communities but decided to create new and better communities which help not only themselves but others less fortunate than themselves. Complaining about the communities we find ourselves in is not helpful. Make a difference whatever community you find yourself in and teach your teens they do have a choice about what community they choose to belong to.
Belonging to a community is great for our survival. Ecclesiastes 4: 9 -10 says “two are better than one…if either one of them falls, one can lift the other up.” Community is measured by the values of its members hence the significance of choosing your community wisely and contributing to make your community stronger and better. Communities strengthen each other during difficult times and rejoice together when the happy times roll around. Look at the communities you belong to and determine to make an impact and teach your teens to do the same. Our teens can be taught to become strong pillars of their communities and actually make a difference for themselves and others.
“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.”
Coretta Scott King.