At Focused Community Strategies, we’re powered by our core values. They can be stated quickly, but they’re profound when you dig into their deeper meanings. We’ve discussed our core value of development before, but today, we’ll dive into the other values of neighboring and dignity.
What Are Our Core Values?
We operate based on beliefs about ourselves and the world – they’re our core values. Let’s dig deeper into two – beginning with neighboring.
You may have noticed that we’ve turned the noun “neighbor” into a verb. We see it as an action word. It’s the action of being with and for folks in a certain defined place. Neighboring involves a choice – we choose to be close and to come alongside. In our culture, we’re typically very isolated – families keep to themselves. Neighboring means living differently. It involves a choice of location with the intention of pressing yourself into other people’s lives.
What Does It Look Like to “Neighbor”?
Neighboring is much more than programming. It’s about a mindset change. Instead of considering what programs we’ll create, it means weaving our lives into those around us. It means choosing schools for our kids, shops to spend our money, and hobbies to pursue – all with the goal of knowing others around us more deeply.
Often, programs create or perpetuate a power dynamic. There’s one group of people with needs and another group supplying resources towards those needs. Neighboring upsets this power dynamic on purpose. Our team moves beyond the idea of “relationship” and creates a situation where everyone belongs. We lead lives that are flipped inside out instead of closed in.
Neighboring means lingering (a lovely word to signify lots of quality time in a shared space) with those around us. It involves making ourselves needy so that we can also experience the feeling of being ministered to. It’s very different than most models we see – where people with more resources consistently offer them to those with less. Instead, we believe that it’s more blessed to give than to receive…so we make sure everyone has the opportunity to give.
What Happens When You “Neighbor”?
Prioritizing time and people will mess up your schedule – in the best possible way. In order to discover the beauty that exists when lives are woven together, you have to shift priorities. Neighboring doesn’t fit into a carefully scheduled window – it’s a way of life.
The trust that’s built through these kinds of relationships is the path toward lasting change…and it ensures that everyone can flourish.
Do’s and Don’ts of Neighboring
Throughout this work, we’ve discovered a few principles that hold true. If you’re ready to begin this transformative work in your own community, there are a few elements that you’ll need to remember.
Assume a posture of dignity.
Remember that dignity is inherent in each individual!
Ask yourself what your capacity is and how much you’re willing to invest.
A neighborhood can incorporate varying levels of involvement. Don’t take on more than you can handle.
Look for what’s right, not what’s wrong.
In neighborhoods that have suffered under disinvestment, it’s easy to see everything that needs to be changed. Look for the beauty instead.
Don’t lead anything until you’ve been in the neighborhood for a year.
Take the time to listen and understand before you act.
Don’t take over – let neighbors have space to participate and have skin in the game.
Empathize with what it’s like to be “missioned” to.
Make sure you’re being open to opportunities for others to serve you.
How Does Dignity Show Up as a Core Value at FCS?
We believe that everyone has dignity – FCS doesn’t bestow it on anyone. Everyone has inherent worth and value and something to add to the table. It may not be money – it may be connections or a sense of humor. In our work, we’re just helping to excavate the value that’s inherent in a place. Everyone has something valuable and worth sharing!