I’ve spent the last several years getting to know my neighbors, and I’ve made plenty of blunders along the way. My Top 10 mistakes are compiled in this list. “Not Quite” Amish Living might be an honorable goal, but let’s take care to avoid these pitfalls on being “not quite” a good neighbor:
#10 Tell Them What They’re Doing Wrong
When I returned to the Lord after a 20-year hiatus, I was on fire for my faith. In my zeal, I was a little too eager to point out to others everything they were doing wrong. If you don’t want to be a good neighbor, use God’s word as a weapon to wound others instead of offering healing words of hope.
#9 Use Scare Tactics
Lecture your neighbors about the wages of their sin (which you will oh-so-helpfully identify for them), or give them a hellfire-and-brimstone pamphlet illustrating what happens after they die. They love this sensitive approach.
#8 Make Proselytizing Your Priority
Invite random neighbors to religious services without bothering to get to know them. Make sure they know your program is more important to you than their personal needs. Don’t bother getting to know their names, just get them into a pew.
#7 Have an Agenda
Have an ulterior motive of making yourself look good or getting your neighbors saved so they’ll stop having parties on Saturday nights and get a grip on their wild kids. I ignored the Art of Neighboring maxim, “We don’t love our neighbors to convert them; we love them because we are converted.”
#6 Don’t Talk about Jesus
Don’t offend your neighbors by using the name of Jesus Christ. Conveniently forget to mention that He is the reason you’ve been able to forgive the owners of the barking dogs next door, overcome your personal demons or respond with grace to the neighborhood gossip.
#5 Don’t Pray
Move forward with your plans without the power of prayer. Don’t pray for your neighbors by name, and don’t ask for opportunities to interact with them on a daily basis.
#4 Get Discouraged
Let petty arguments with your neighbors and strife within your own home convince you that you have no right to do ministry on your street. Become weighed down with self-doubt and criticism. Believe that you are unqualified, unequipped, and probably uncalled.
#3 Love Your Neighbor If You Have Time
Add an addendum to Christ’s #2 Command: “Love your neighbor as yourself… when it conveniently fits into your schedule.” Make sure your house is Pinterest-perfect and your calendar is clear before you invite anyone into your home.
#2 Build a Big Fence
Good fences make good neighbors—the higher the better. Pull into your attached garage and stay isolated on your private patio. Under no circumstances should you attend neighborhood watch meetings or visit your neighbors’ yard sales. Shun dog walkers and joggers; avoid eye contact at the mailbox.
#1 Be Perfect
Make sure your neighbors know you have it all together. Intimidate impress them with your perfect marriage, impeccable children and pristine landscaping. Put yourself on a pedestal so they can’t see your need for a Savior.
“The whole point of what we’re urging is simply love—love uncontaminated by self-interest and counterfeit faith, a life open to God. Those who fail to keep to this point soon wander off into cul-de-sacs of gossip. They set themselves up as experts on religious issues, but haven’t the remotest idea of what they’re holding forth with such imposing eloquence. It’s true that moral guidance and counsel need to be given, but the way you say it and to whom you say it are as important as what you say.” 1 Timothy 1:5-8 The Message
Want to be a good neighbor? There’s only one step: Simply love. Form relationships naturally, over picket fences and car pool lines—spiritual conversations will follow.
Visit Amy’s website at www.theneighborhoodcafe.net to download a free list of Scriptures you can pray over your neighborhood.