Growing in Community

Growing in Community

We had the privilege of spending time with a husband and wife celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.  We were married 25 years to their 50 years, so we felt like babies in comparison. They were rich in so many ways, not in dollars and cents but in all the other ways which truly last.

Gerry and Shirley taught us so much about how to build and nurture a community. Were they perfect? No. However, what we learned from this couple before they passed will remain with us always.

They reflected what they learned from serving Jesus their entire married life, and then shared it with anyone who would listen. We often joked that Gerry could strike up a conversation with a lamp-post and bring it home for dinner. And Shirley always made room at the table for anyone Gerry brought home. Their life together for more than 50 years demonstrated this reverence for sharing Jesus with everyone and anyone. Regardless.

Growth Happens in Community

We know that Jesus spent time in solitude where He sought connection with His Father. But Jesus also invested time with His disciples, teaching and sharing, and even just relaxing with friends like Lazarus, Mary and Martha.

Jesus was perfect. The community wasn’t.

This is as true today as it was when Jesus walked this earth. We are not perfect. Every community has its dysfunctions. However, it’s in community that we grow. It’s in community that we can reflect all we’re learning about Jesus. It’s in community where we can lead like Jesus.

Jesus was perfect. The community wasn’t.

Husbands and Wives in Community

As a husband and wife team, couples can use their strengths to an even greater degree than what they’d do alone. We saw this in action with Gerry and Shirley. As a team, they led like Jesus – they were Jesus “with skin on”.

Here’s some of what we learned from this couple:

They met people where they were. There was no pretention in this couple. In soup kitchens, in trailer parks, at a local restaurant chain, or walking through a park, just like Jesus, they talked with everyone and didn’t hesitate to offer an invitation to get to know Jesus.

They served. When someone needed help, Gerry and Shirley were the first to meet a need.

They looked for the lost. If someone was sick – in heart, mind or body - they’d drop in to encourage. They didn’t wait to be invited, but arrived with a cake or a plant and sat down to give hope for the future.

Observing how Gerry and Shirley lived their lives caused us to ponder and reflect over our own lives.

How are we living in our community? Can those around us see a reflection of how we’re growing in the likeness of Jesus?

If you are married, have you thought about using your relationship as a way to lead like Jesus? What if “date night” became your opportunity to influence your community for the glory of God? What might that look like?

Can others see a reflection of how we’re growing in the likeness of Jesus?

Date Night Ideas – Grow in Your Community

Here are five date night activities or ideas that’ll bring you closer to your spouse, and also exercise that role of Jesus “with skin on”.

  1. Buy a few bunches of flowers, and visit a nursing/retirement home. Give one bunch to the first caregiver you see. Theirs is often a thankless job. Give the other bunch to the first elder who smiles at you. For sure, you’d love to give a bunch of flowers to each person, but often our bank accounts wouldn’t permit that. Don’t let finances stop you from sharing some joy – do for one what you’d like to do for everyone.
  2. Learn some knock-knock jokes and make a few phone calls. Take turns making your friends and acquaintances laugh. There’s never enough laughter in life – let it begin with you. Those jokes might be corny, but it’ll still put a smile on someone’s face as they realize you thought of her or him and took the time to connect.
  3. Try baking together, even it’s just from store-bought cookie dough. Then deliver a batch to a local fire station. What those fire-fighters see and experience while doing their jobs is not emotionally easy. Reaching out with something sweet along with a kind word, can make a difference as those men and women might wonder where God is in a world of tragedies.
  4. Visit with another couple in your community. Bring along a copy of a favorite book as a gift – something that’s lifted you up and might add value to their life. Conversations sparked from good books have wings to soar. It can become a starting point for a deeper friendship where truths can be explored, rather than only idle chit-chat.
  5. Invest in future beauty. Buy some bulbs, seeds or plants (according to the time of year) and ask if you can plant them in a common spot – a church, day-care, retirement home, etc. A little bit of gardening can yield an abundant crop of beauty. Growing things is a lesson in waiting. And isn’t that what God does for us? First He plants, and then He waits for the harvest. It’s also a great conversation starter with anyone who asks what you’re doing in the dirt!

Of course, these ideas aren’t just for husbands and wives. Find a friend, or three, and try these ideas as a group!

We were never meant to live life alone. How we demonstrate kindnesses and do good deeds can bring glory to God in every area of our community. We can help others to know Jesus and also grow to lead like Jesus – just as Gerry and Shirley did for us.

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Robert and Lori Ferguson

Robert & Lori Ferguson are best friends who have been married for 30-plus years. Their mission is to encourage husbands and wives to lead meaningful lives. Read more at EncourageYourSpouse.com.