My town, Spring Hill, TN, isn’t one you’ve likely heard of if you’re not from this area. You’ve probably heard of several cities just north of Spring Hill: Franklin, Brentwood, Nashville. . . .
It’s home to lots of well-known musicians as well as many Christian authors and speakers. Most of them live in those more pricey areas, but a few live in my town. So, I guess you could say they’re my neighbors.
This community fosters creatives.
Yesterday, as I was driving our oldest to school, I saw someone out for his morning walk. I did a double-take as I passed him. It was Bob. He’s not “famous” like “Justin Timberlake-famous”, but he’s written some important articles for various news organizations. He’s a religion reporter, or as he likes to say, he works the “God-beat”.
I’ve only observed him from afar through his online interactions. He’s gracious to everyone who poses questions or comments. It doesn’t matter to him if you’re “someone”. He’s curious and he’s generous with his words and attention.
This shouldn’t be remarkable, but it’s a refreshing quality in Middle Tennessee. Everyone seems to be trying to be “someone” and we’re impressed with others who are. There’s a handful of folks who only have time to interact with people who are “someone” or who can help them become “someone”. Stay with me because I’m going somewhere with this.
What does this have to do with loving my neighbors and my town?
It’s a unique experience to live in a community where, if you’re a creative (author, artist, . . .) you’re likely trying to become discovered by the right person.
But being discovered has a surprising impact on a community. It usually takes people and their talents far away from their homes when they step onto those stages. I’m not doubting their callings or the value they bring. However, on a large scale, I don’t think that serves a local community best.
Stages aren’t where we find the most emotionally and spiritually healthy people. I don’t think our souls were made to spend so much energy building platforms and email lists full of people we’ll never interact with on a daily basis to the detriment of connecting in our local churches, neighborhoods, and people who know us as regular folks.
If everything we do, takes us farther and farther away from being truly known by people who aren’t “fans” something is off balance.
Serving small in your community doesn’t just help your neighbors, it helps you. Lead a Bible study at your church. Volunteer in your town. Be known as a real person and cultivate relationships with people who have nothing to offer you, like I’ve seen Bob do online. You want to write? Write for small town newsletter or your church website. Help your pastor with sermon preparation and research.
I know I’ve been called to use my words. I’m not sure what that fully looks like, but when I’m feeling especially awkward about it. I turn my energies local.