When you think of kids + foods that are sticky, maybe you think of popsicles or fruit. But for me, I think of the first time I served my baby cous cous when he was first learning to eat solid foods. If you’ve been there, you know…If there is one food that is the glitter of the food world, it’s cous cous. And as I’m trying to pick up the one thousandth tiny piece of cous cous off the sticky floor under the high chair, I find myself cursing the very idea of stickiness.
But stickiness isn’t always bad, is it? From those stickers you craved on your elementary papers, to the gooey goodness of peanut butter, we’ve all seen stickiness truly bless our lives. (Thank you, Jesus, for peanut butter. Amen.)
And so, as we embark on this new series that I’m calling Sticky People, I want you to think more about peanut butter, and less about how impossible it is to get every last speck of cous cous out of your carpet, your clothes, or your baby’s ear canal.
Nah friends, when it comes to our relationships, community, and friendships, stickiness is good.
Here’s what I mean…
You know those people in your life who act like the glue in groups of people? They are community-minded to their core. Their first and last thoughts are through a lens of connection and relationships. They prioritize building bridges between people, going deeper in relationships, and maintaining friendships. I call these sticky people.
Because they’re easy to stick to, right? And, as the glue in many relationships, they lead the way in helping people get together and then stick together.
Now, let’s be clear, being a sticky person does not make you a perfect friend. These people will disappoint you, hurt you, and fail you just like an other person. But despite being supremely ordinary humans, in this one area especially, they stick out for their stickiness when it comes to relationships. Many people like this have impacted my life through the years, modeling through their best moments, and the harder ones too, what it means to stick with your people.
The coolest thing about this concept of sticky people, though, is that some are born and some are grown. Sure, there are people who seem to just have gotten an extra measure of “heart for community” when God was whipping up this batch, but many people I know that I would call sticky tell me stories of how God has cultivated this in their lives through hardship, hurt, and heartache turned into healing that births hope they can’t help but give away to others. The best part about sticky people is the reality that, by the grace of Jesus over our lives, we all can grow in being more community-minded.
Because sticky people aren’t just a certain kind of people; these are people who, through the grace of God, have learned the blessings that come from a life steeped in community. And because they know what it’s like, they want to share it. See, community is a gift of God to bless us and also one of his favorite tools to refine us, drawing us closer to him and into partnering with him to reach a lost and lonely world. And sticky people know this tool of God is one worth making a big part of our lives.
In fact, we can know this because we see Jesus as the perfect example of what it means to be sticky. Jesus tells us, “watch how I do it” (Matt. 11:28-30, MSG), inviting us to learn from his example of what it looks like to be human, and this includes the area of relationships.
So for the next few months, we’re going to learn about some tangible ways sticky people prioritize community. We’ll look to Jesus’ example as our authority, and we’ll get really practical about how this might play out in our day-to-day lives.
What do community-minded people prioritize?
What kind of habits characterize their interactions with both strangers and familiar friends?
Where are they allowing God to push and challenge them with the goal of being more like Jesus?
On the podcast, I’ll be talking to some of my friends who are sticky – whether in their DNA or cultivated – about ways they are inviting God to work in their lives and the lives of others through the amazing mechanism of community that God has given humanity.
So, as we begin this journey of growing in our stickiness, there are two paradigms I want us to remember as paramount.
1. Community-mindedness isn’t just a personality trait, it’s a practice we cultivate.
It’s easy to say things like, community just isn’t my thing, or I’m not very good at it, assuming that those we think are good at it were just born doing it well. That’s a lie from the enemy trying to keep you living lonely and feeling inadequate. Yes, I do think some people have been given an extra measure of spiritual gifting in this area to bring God glory and build up the church, but don’t miss that last bit. Those who are gifted in this, we’re called to build up the church with our gifts. That means not just using them to serve others, but also using them to teach others to cultivate this practice in their own lives, in whatever ways God wants that to look, big or small.
Because make no mistake, community is written on your heart no matter how natural it is for you, because it’s written on the heart of your Creator, your Savior, and the Spirit who lives in you if you’re a follower of Jesus. The Godhead exists in perfect unity and community. God relentlessly demonstrates in Scripture and our lives today that he is most interested in carrying out his purposes through and within the lives, actions, words, and choices of humans. Jesus modeled a life entrenched in community perfectly while he was on earth, and set a model for the church in motion of how we should practice it, as well. And even in the Spirit, we see the manifestation of a community-oriented God. He is our Advocate, our Counselor, our Helper – all roles that cannot happen without at least two being involved. An advocate with no one to intercede for is purposeless, and a counselor without anyone to advise is just a philosopher. Our God demonstrates community in so many capacities, how can we not expect it to be woven into our own lives, as well? Community is not just a thing some people do, it’s part of the fabric of our lives because it’s part of who we are and who our God is, the one in whose image we’re made.
Being community-minded is something we can cultivate as we learn and grow more like Christ and apply that character to this area of our lives.
2. Community isn’t just for our comfort or getting our needs met.
It’s a mechanism by which we participate in the Great Commission and glorify God.
Through community we seek, not to “be good friends” and bring ourselves glory, but rather to bring glory to God as we point those in our lives to him. Through community we aren’t just hoping to get closer to our people so we feel secure, but to grow closer to Jesus by allowing iron to sharpen iron. Through community we aren’t just trying to go deeper in our relationships to be known by other people, but we’re seeking to invite those in our lives into deeper relationship with Jesus. If being sticky becomes all about us – our comfort, our tribe, our connections – we’ve missed it! Community is all about God.
So, why is being a sticky person something we should pursue?
Because it’s how Jesus lived.
As far as I can see, it’s how God seems to think.
And it’s central to how the Spirit works through our lives.
We can pursue a life of being more community-minded, more sticky, with confidence that in doing so, we are pursuing a life that looks more like Jesus’, a life that is participating in the Great Commission, and a life that seeks to bring glory to God, not ourselves, through every relationship in which we intentionally engage.
So here we go, friend. Together, let’s learn how to be a bit more sticky.
Love ya, friend.
Your Sister, Kimber
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