Blog Post


September 22, 2022

Food for thought QUESTIONS

If you listed all the qualities of your ideal best friend, what would some of those qualities be?

What does good authentic community mean to you?

As we want to feel respected for our views and beliefs, shouldn’t we respect others with contrasting views and beliefs?

For people who follow a spiritual path, how well do you respect others not on the same path?

For Atheists who don’t believe anything other than the material world and universe, how well do you respect others who have strong spiritual convictions &/or religious beliefs etc?

I respect that everyone is on their own journey in life with their own experiences and worldviews etc. For me personally, I have found that there is nothing more satisfying than an intimate relationship with God who I believe created us and the universe.

I am passionate about God and about authentic caring community, along with deep empathy for those suffering. While I love having Christian community with unity in diversity, I also value the broader diverse community of people with many different beliefs and backgrounds.

Now, back to the Food for thought Questions –

If you listed all the qualities of your ideal best friend what would some of those qualities be? Now that’s the type of friend you could aim to be for others.

Here are some words to consider regarding Authentic Community: Connection, Caring, Compassion, Collaboration, Cohesion, Cooperation, Contribution, Creativity, Consistency, Courtesy, Commending & Complementing others – rather than Comparing Competitively, Careless Conflict, Coercion, Conquering, Constant Complaining, Corruption, Confusion, or Coveting etc. Coveting and jealously wrecks community, and it probably isn’t healthy comparing ourselves and competing against others in general life, other than actual competitions. Wouldn’t it be better to celebrate with other people in their successes, building each other up? Not tall poppy syndrome tearing others down.

So, with that in mind, what does authentic community mean to you?

Remember the Golden rule – treat others as you’d like to be treated! BUT the ‘5 love languages’ shows different preferences. We need to get to know people deeper to know what works for them. We need to spend time with and listen to them, and to express ourselves too. There are different types of listening. We can listen to speak, listen to hear, or listen to understand. I really like the acronym from John Warlow – C.U.R.E (Connect / Understand / Respond / Evaluate or Engage others) When we connect with people, it’s best to seek to understand them before responding with assumptions, and then to evaluate how well we understand them, and how they understand us, again without assumptions. It’s so easy to misunderstand others and to be misunderstood, especially online without visual and audio.

There are many personality tests out there like Aus Identities and Myers Briggs Type Indicator (also known as the 16 personalities). https://www.truity.com/ has a variety of personality tests and love style tests etc. These can be quite helpful for understanding ourselves and others better, but we shouldn’t make assumptions of people based on their personality traits etc, there are still many variances within each type. As an example though, (introvert bubble, extroverts trying to get into to the bubble where introverts need some alone time to refresh)

People can be intolerant of differences, tolerate differences, accept differences, or even better – value differences (unless definite harmful differences). Another way to think about it is to aspire to have ‘Curiosity rather than Criticism’ when conversing with people who are very different to us or at least hold a view that seems very contrasting to our own views. Sometimes we can learn from the differences, sometimes through deeper listening and curious conversation we realise that we misunderstood them and have a lot more in common than we thought.

An important issue and risk factor causing lack of community for people is being a ‘Technology addict’ (or other addictions). Even TV 50 years ago was a huge barrier to families at home, distracting and preventing from having dinner with discussions together in family community. Now mobile phones are even worse if we don’t have self-control. Perhaps they should mostly be on silent or even off over dinner. The ‘Digital Cocaine’ documentary is powerful evidence of tech addiction damages. These days there are more ways to connect than ever, but many people are lonelier and feel more isolated than ever. And there is FOMO, the ‘fear of missing out’ causing much anxiety in people.

Something else to consider, which I’ve spoken to youth about, is that sometimes the most unlovable are the very people who need the most love & kindness. However, bullying, or other abuse, can’t be tolerated and should be reported and dealt with. However, we also need to look past the bully on the outside & see the hurting person on the inside.

We really are one race, the human race, and we all have worth, we all matter with purpose and potential to explore and enhance.

Forgiveness is a key point for authentic community. Have you heard it said that “an eye for an eye makes the world go blind”? We all need mercy & grace & forgiveness & we should forgive others, especially if we believe God forgives us when we are remorseful and repent. But what about those people who don’t ask for forgiveness and continue to deliberately hurt us and others? This is tough, but I personally believe rather than not forgiving them and holding bitterness inside, we can pray for them, that they would be transformed and given a new and soft heart towards others. Who knows, perhaps they were severely mistreated and have never forgiven their perpetrators and instead held bitterness in their hearts which has manifested into hurting others. As it is often said, “hurting people, hurt other people”. My last blog post was all about forgiveness.

Some people like to argue, others avoid conflict wherever possible. But in between, I think people can discuss and even debate topics & still have unity with diversity; we can all learn from each other. This needs to be done respectfully with humility. It’s not always easy in the moment, particularly when pride lurches within us. If someone calls someone else a degrading name or says what they said was stupid, this is falling away from kindness & humility. None of us are perfect, none of us have the right to condemn or ridicule others, but we can sharpen each other, always with kindness and care.

I believe it can be profoundly helpful to share our burdens with each other and have accountability for our actions and words, or lack thereof. It’s hard to do this at a large gathering, but it can be done well 1 to 1 or in a small group etc.

Accountability friend/s or Mentor/Coach

I personally really benefited from a men’s group! It was men doing life together, being real, having accountability & praying for each other. I believe it is vital to have at least one person to be fully accountable to, to share each other’s burdens, & confess our mistakes to one another to learn from them and hopefully not repeat them. This is why many gifted leaders have fallen into major life issues in my opinion, not having enough accountability with too many temptations around them. Proverbs 29:23 A person’s pride will bring them low, But a humble spirit will obtain honor. And being a mentor or coach (even informally) for others not only can be very helpful for the them, but also a huge blessing and growth for us as mentors or coaches.

Lastly, there is a Hebrew word called ‘Shalom’ which some people believe just means ‘peace’, like a ‘peace be with you’ greeting. But it means so much more than that – Shalom is about having real Life Meaning, Purpose, Hope, Joy, Harmony, Wholeness & the Peace that passes all understanding, despite life circumstances that can sometimes be chaotic and troublesome in this world. Having a caring and authentic community can be such a blessing in our lives towards shalom, and we need to contribute to that caring community too.



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