I work specifically with our DTS’s most often, and I believe that one of the greatest features of our program is the opportunity we provide our students and staff to live in community. Community living is something I continue to find myself more and more passionate about, and from that passion, have developed a teaching series for our DTS that is a whole week exploring why we value it so much.
Because many of you reading may not currently be living in day-to-day community, and many of my students will return home and not be living in full-time in community, I wanted to post a blog series that looks at the foundations of what I believe builds and fosters community. I encourage you to check out this ten blog series entitled Community in the days to come.
Before we can ever discuss what makes up a community, we have to first define what community is. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines community as, a unified body of individuals. I wanted to begin by defining Community this way because it does not restrict anyone from being apart of a community. There is nothing stated about whether or not you have to live together, it has no religious or political qualifications, and it does not promote nor denote any specific group or type of person.
To see community for all that it is worth, we must recognize that we each have the opportunity to experience it. I believe that we all crave to be in relationship. To be known and understood; heard and given a chance to be significant. Being apart of a community is one of the greatest tools we can access to accomplish these deep desires we all have.
Paul Ryan, the current speaker of the House of Representatives, once said, “Every successful individual knows that his or her achievement depends on a community of persons working together.”
I do not have a personal relationship with Paul Ryan, I do not claim to support him politically, nor do I know his religious beliefs. However, I do know is that he is constantly looking at this giant community of the United States, and is given the authority to make decisions for it. He has experience in understanding community; what works and does not work, therefore I read this statement believing that it comes from someone who truly does value the idea of community.
The reason I am so drawn to this statement is because of the simple, yet profound truth I believe it states: That whether we admit it or not, not one of us can claim our success purely as our own. Without other people and without our community, I do not believe we have the ability to thrive in this “life" thing. We need people to encourage us, to teach us, to correct us, and even to compete with us.
A community is a place that allows us to pour into something, to be an advocate for something, to fight alongside others for something we believe in. As we invest in the community we find ourselves in, we will soon find that the investment is repaid, and often with a greater return. Community is an organism, and much like a person, it has no significance without development and growth. Similar to how we begin as children living a life that tells a story through our maturing process, a community will similarly develop around those who invest in it, and in return, pour back into those unified in it.
Not only does our community directly affect our success, but the community around us can just as easily affect our failures. While it would be unfair to say we can blame all of our failures on the community around us, I would venture to say that more often than not, the people surrounding us and speaking into our lives directly affect the direction we are headed. Therefore it is essential that we not only choose a healthy and life-giving community to be a part of, but we understand how it works and begin playing a part in it.
In the blogs to come, we will search and discover what makes up community, and how we ourselves can embrace the giving and receiving blessing of living life together!