The more social networking we seem to do the more socially inept it seems we become. We know only how to deal with statements, we no longer know how to deal with people. Friendship once required face to face conversations. Now friendships are only a click away. When it comes to the barrage of status updates and shocking news stories, endless lists, and videos captioned by the statement, “I can’t believe what I saw”, we have even fewer choices. Like it or leave it.
Perhaps this is why when forced into social situations so many of us have a face full of phone and we have only one question to ask, “Did you like it?” The first practice with a new team is not assessed with what did you learn, what do you need to do to get ready for the next practice, but rather, “Did you like it?” The first day at school is not evaluated by what you will be studying, or what does the teacher expect, but rather, “Did you like it?” Even church, which is supposed to be a body of believers focused on Christ; we do not ask was Christ exalted, was the Word faithfully preached, but we ask, “Did you like it?”
The will of God is not found in a click. The will of God is found in Biblical community. For an increasingly socially inept culture, this may not go well for us. So what are we left to do? There are some essential attitudes we must put into practice. I would call these “connectitudes;” attitudes essential for us to build connected community.
The connectitudes are listed in Ephesians 4:2-3. They are humility, gentleness, patience and forbearance. I call these connectitudues because Paul says they are exercised by someone who is, “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” The phrase literally rendered would be, “eager to do what it takes to keep it strapped together.” The phrase describes a person working at connecting. Are you able to demonstrate attitudes in social situations that not only keep you held together, but may actually bring others together? Are you eagerly working to connect?
Eagerness goes a long way. I love college football. So what if someone approaches me and offers me two tickets, 50 yard line seats to an SEC opening game? It is the first weekend of September and the game is early in the afternoon. It will probably be 90 degrees. What if the tickets are in the full sun? I will have to pay $8 for a watered down Sprite and $12 for a hot dog cooked last season. What if they told me I would have to wait for 2 hours to get into the game and that the guy sitting beside me is a raving alcoholic who is notorious for cursing the referees momma? Do you know what I would say? What time are we leaving?
It is amazing how long you will wait and what you will endure when you want to be a part of something.
You will do what you want to do. You will do what it takes to make it work, to connect, to hold it together.
To make connections we must be humble. The word humble means “to be flat.” I’m not going to make a fuss or draw attention to myself. The situation is bigger than my drawing attention to me as an individual. I want to fit in. Go flat.
Another critical connectitude is gentleness. Gentleness is emotional calm. It means I can deal with a situation that may be extremely uncomfortable, inconvenient, or even confrontational and keep it level. I’m not going to inflame or complain. I’m eager to make it work.
Connectitude #3 is patience. Patience means I can wait. The fourth connectitude is forbearance. Forbearance means I can wait for others. These two attitudes together mean that I can give people room, the benefit of the doubt. I will not judge people the first time I meet them. I may feel weird being the new guy, but I realize that over time a meaningful relationship may develop. I’m not going to judge a community of people the first time I enter into it. They may not be as rude, unfriendly, and click-ish as I think. I am willing to give time and room for new relationships to develop.
Real friendships take more than a click to connect!
If you feel left out and isolated, try extending the connectitudes. Enter social situations bringing something people can connect to. You take the initiative. You give it time. Be eager to be a part.