The Art of Community
How to Help Friends Through Hard Times (And How NOT to)

How to Help Friends Through Hard Times (And How NOT to)

September 22, 2021

We often find ourselves in situations where a friend is going through a hard time, or reveals some trauma in their past that is troubling them in the present.  Knowing what to do, and what to say, in these moments can be difficult.

We want to help you with that in today's episode.

Here is our list:

What Not To Do

What to Do Instead

Make it about you Make it about them and what God is doing

Tell them “God won’t give you more than you can handle” or some other trite, meaningless, and untrue platitude.(“God needed another angel” or even “Everything is going to be ok”

If you don’t have a real thing to say, don’t say anything other than “I’m so sorry this happened to you.”

Lie to make them feel better

Always tell the truth, no matter what.  This includes children, teenagers, etc.

Give advice.  Advice is RARELY what people need, unless they are asking for it.  And even then, it will always be limited in its effectiveness.  People usually have a heart problem, not an info. problem.

They need Jesus, and Jesus most often shows up for people through other people.  If you must speak, say what Jesus would say.

If they ask for advice then give it prayerfully and with grace.

Avoid saying things like, “What you should do is…”

Talk more than you listen.

Ask questions.  Lots of them.  Be an active listener by repeating back to them what they are saying, but in your own words.  If your summary isn’t accurate, apologize and ask more questions.

See yourself in the position of rescuer or problem solver

You are a friend.  Take up your position on the ash heap next to theme instead of the instructor over them.

Assume they will ask for help if they need it.

Try to put yourself in their shoes and think about what practical things would make their situation harder.  Then volunteer to do specific things for them. Ex. Grocery Shop for them, make meals, watch kids, help with finances, run errands, pay for counseling, etc.

Run Away/Get scared away from the hard (this also includes after some time has passed)

Show up consistently.  Even when you don’t know what to do or what to say.  Ask how their day is, ask how you can pray for them, ask what they are learning about God or what God is teaching them during this season

Affirm with the person you are speaking with that you are there to listen no matter what. Ask them to hang out or go out. THere may be times the texts or calls or invitations are ignored but don’t abandon ship. Keep knocking. Consistency in friendship shows them you value them.

BE PATIENT

Make your help/presence conditional on their response

Sometimes coming around to a good view point takes a lot of time and sometimes it doesn’t happen.  Show up anyway.  Pray and ask God for wisdom on how to share those things.

Gossip

Be someone people can trust. 

Don’t relate to them based on their trauma or failure

Help untangle the trauma from their identity. Remind them of who they are in Christ

Make them or the person who brought the trauma the enemy

Remember the enemy is the Devil. Help them war against the devil and direct their hearts towards forgiveness of the person.

Be theologically unprepared

Learn what the Bible teaches about suffering: God is in control, God is good, God loves you.

Send helpful scriptures and encouragements that come to mind. 

It is not always helpful to say “Just pray” but rather help with specific scriptures or things to pray 

 

Give testimonies of God’s faithfulness in your life and the lives of those around you. 

 

Music by Elisa Cox

Quick Update on the Podcast Schedule

Quick Update on the Podcast Schedule

September 15, 2021

Just a quick update on the schedule and some exciting things coming up for the show.

Mending Broken Relationships

Mending Broken Relationships

September 8, 2021

If you're going to invest in meaningful relationships, you're going to experience hurt, offense, and brokenness eventually.  Either you are going to hurt them, or they will hurt you.  The only way to avoid it, is not to have any friends!

Scripture gives us a clear way forward, which is fantastic news, IF we are willing to refrain from sabotaging the process before it even gets started.

Today's episode is about just that: how to mend a broken relationship, avoid destructive divisiveness, and move forward.  We discuss the need for forgiveness, repentance, and clarification.

If you would like to reach out, you can find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100072368179465

Or email at bcotten@livinghopetriad.com

Music by Elisa Cox

Surviving My Church Hurt

Surviving My Church Hurt

September 1, 2021

We're back after a short hiatus for vacation and summer craziness!  Sorry to keep you waiting...

This episode gets a little personal as we explore some of our own painful experiences with getting hurt by the Church.  It's hard, and complicated, when the community that is such a source of comfort and life becomes the scene of the crime.

How do we respond?

There are no easy answers.  Heather and I both felt more than ever that we are opening a can of worms that cannot be fully fleshed out (or answered) in a podcast.  But we still believe it's important for these stories to be told, and general compass heading to be offered as a way through and out.

If you'd like to reach out to us, find either of us on Facebook.  Or you can email us at bcotten@livinghopetriad.com

How to Welcome Challenging People Into Your Life

How to Welcome Challenging People Into Your Life

July 14, 2021

If you are going to invest in building a robust circle of relationships in your life, then that community will have to include people that you do not easily connect with, or that do not easily connect with others.  This is not only normal, but follows the pattern of Christ.

Some people are socially awkward.  Other people are emotionally broken and need extra care.  Some people mental illness, or personalities that don’t jive easily with yours.

So when I talk about “challenging people” that’s who I’m talking about.  I’m NOT talking about people that are abusive, repetitively untrustworthy, or gossips, or are otherwise bad for your soul in some way.  Those people you just need to shuttle out of your life.

I’m talking about good people that for one reason or another need some extra care and find it very difficult to make, or keep, friends.

Often these people are boundary busters.  They may not pick up on your subtle clues about your boundaries.  Or they may not realize they are busting them.  They may be emotionally needy, or socially oblivious to your hints.

  • Know the difference between a challenging person, and a toxic person.  Just because they make you uncomfortable, or don’t easily recognize your boundaries, doesn’t make them toxic.
  • Recognize that not all relationships are balanced in both directions.  Some relationships will be more give than take, and that’s ok.  Remember that Jesus did not have ONE relationship in His life that was truly balanced except for His relationship with the Father and the Spirit.  You should not be surprised if most of your relationships are unbalanced.
  • All relationships can fluctuate from time to time, season to season.
  • If there are no (or few) unbalanced relationships in your life, you’re doing it wrong.  That’s a big signal that selfishness has crept into your perspective on community life.
  • Guard your heart against feeling superior to people that are needier than you in some way.  Condescention is a form of pride.  It is the opposite of love.  No one is your project.  We are all God’s projects.  You much to learn from everyone, including those that struggle socially.

In my experience, people who struggle socially are often the strongest and most courageous people I know.  It takes far more personal integrity to move through their life when they know that they make people uncomfortable, or they have a hard time making friends.  They fight tremendous self-hatred quite often.

Consider that at least Peter was extremely socially awkward.

  • If someone is blunt with you, when they are not angry, it usually means that you need to be equally blunt in order to communicate.  What you think of as social kindness is probably too subtle and they don’t even hear you.
    If you can build trust in your relationship, you will be able to help them with things that hurt them in their relationships.  Talk too much?  Bust boundaries?  Friends can help with that.
  • Jesus called the people at the fringes into the center of what He was doing, and He pushed the so-called “cool kids” out.  The last are first, the first are last.  If there is no “Peter” in your circle of friends, then I don’t think you can claim to understand the Kingdom of God fully.
The Myth of Balance

The Myth of Balance

July 7, 2021

We often get questions from listeners about how to balance the demands of life with the call to engage in discipleship through meaningful relationships.  It's not an easy question, because everyone has a different life and the way that they fulfill the great commission will be unique.

However, we think there are some principles that can apply to most everyone.  We are talking about how to have healthy boundaries that fall along the lines that Jesus has set for us.

The link to the article mentioned by Ben is here: https://bible.org/seriespage/1-boundary-basics

 

Music by Elisa Cox

The Role of Personality Tests in Community

The Role of Personality Tests in Community

June 30, 2021

Knowing yourself is important in your efforts to know others.  Personality tests can give you a handy set of categories and tools to understand yourself better, and make faster connections with other people.

There are also some pitfals to avoid along the way.  In this episode, we discuss those advantages and dangers as well as discuss some examples from a test we took together.

The test we took can be found here: https://www.understandmyself.com/

Music by Elisa Cox

Hospitality Masterclass: How to Host People in Your Home, Part 2

Hospitality Masterclass: How to Host People in Your Home, Part 2

June 23, 2021

This is Part 2 of our fantastic discussion with Israel and Kristina Rios.  They are dear friends, and have a wonderful gift for hosting people in their home.  They are both passionate about establishing a broad base of friendships, so we think you will learn a lot from our chat.

Thanks for coming along!

Music by Elisa Cox

Hospitality Masterclass: How to Host People in Your Home, Part 1

Hospitality Masterclass: How to Host People in Your Home, Part 1

June 16, 2021

Join us as we talk to Israel and Kristina Rios, two of the best people we know of to teach us about the ins and outs of hosting people in your home.  Getting people in your home is perhaps the fastest way to establish meaningful relationships.  Sadly, few people do it these days.

We had a lot of fun chatting with Israel and Kristina, and we think you will get a lot from it.

This is part 1 of 2.

Music by Elisa Cox

How to Have Meaningful Conversations

How to Have Meaningful Conversations

June 9, 2021

Once you invite someone, what to do if they say yes?  This really comes down to being able to hold a conversation.  If this is something you struggle with, you are not alone.  It's incredibly common in our experience, and we want to help you with some skills to improve your ability to have meaningful conversations, and quell your anxiety in the process.

It all starts with Philippians 2:3-4 - Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Music by Elisa Cox

Making the Invitation to New Friends

Making the Invitation to New Friends

June 2, 2021

Often the hardest part of making new friends is the initial invite.  This brings up dark memories of middle school dances in the gymnasium with slow jams in the air and groups of sweaty kids standing on opposite ends of the room waiting to be asked to dance.  Not much has changed.

But getting over this initial hurdle is necessary to establishing a life of meaningful friendships.  Listen as we wade into the topic.

Music by Elisa Cox

Five Deadly Friendship Myths

Five Deadly Friendship Myths

May 26, 2021

We have seen, or experienced ourselves, at least 5 friendship myths that stop us from starting meaningful friendships.

MYTH 1: Common interests make the best friendships.

MYTH 2: Your first impression of people is accurate.

MYTH 3: If they want to hang out, they'll ask

MYTH 4: No one wants to be my friend, I'm just being a bother.

MYTH 5: Making friends should be easy.

 

Music by Elisa Cox

Is Virtual Community Real?

Is Virtual Community Real?

May 10, 2021

We are digging into the ever relevant question of whether or not a set of relationships that exist only online can do for us what we need.  It's thorny issue, but one we need to pay attention to.

 

Music by Elisa Cox

What is Community?

What is Community?

April 29, 2021

Welcome to our first episode!  Here we introduce ourselves, the general direction of the podcast, and begin talking about why engaging in deeper, long-term relationships is vital to your Christian life.

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