The power of vulnerability within community is found in our choosing to make intentional decisions to connect.
Brené Brown’s definition of vulnerability captures the concept well for the purpose of today’s topic. According to Brown, vulnerability is “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. But vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our most accurate measure of courage.” The space that opens inside our hearts when we choose to be vulnerable is one that cannot be accessed any other way. Because of this, many people choose to not be vulnerable with one another out of fear. But as followers of Jesus, we know we have not been given a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Like anything with risk, the greater risk and emotional exposure we choose to engage in, the greater the reward. This is where courage comes in. Deciding to be courageous doesn’t necessarily mean going skydiving or public speaking in front of thousands of people. In the context of community, courage looks like being vulnerable, open, and honest. It looks like choosing to show up, commit yourself to connection, and loving those around you like Jesus would.
As believers, I believe the power of vulnerability can transform the world around us. Coming into authentic relationships where we are fully seen and known mimics the heart of Father God’s desire for relationship with us.
1. Cultivate a thriving community of believers
Living authentically with those in our churches and families is crucial for a fruitful life. Our inner circles, the people we choose to spend the most time with, are who sharpen and refine us. If you’ve found yourself in a place where community feels stagnant, difficult, or not worth it: I want to encourage you. You get to be the friend that you desire to have. If there isn’t consistency in your friendships in the way that you’d like, chose to change that! It doesn’t have to be complicated; simply see who is right in front of you, and choose to pour into them with encouragement and time. These two things are the recipe for community. Host them, read the word together, and do life with one another. Break bread and connect through intentional conversations. Put Jesus in the center of it all, choosing to give where you might be lacking.
“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)
2. Make a commitment to go deep
This is a commitment that many of us must learn to do, and that’s okay! Going deep taps into the power of vulnerability because it doesn’t allow us to stay superficial. At some point, we will run out of talking about the weather, one another, or our jobs. And we then get to decide if we will ask connecting questions, and in return, provide authentic answers. A commitment to go deep doesn’t mean you have to tell your entire life story the first, or even second time you hang out with someone. But it does mean that you will allow your heart to go there eventually. And that you will choose to not stay hidden among friends or family. But instead, let yourself be seen and known. Just as we connect with Father God, the vulnerability of our relationship is a deep as we choose to make it. If this feels scary for you, a great place to start is with our heavenly Father. He knows everything about us, even promising to meet with us in the depths of hell. And even still, He’s eager to connect
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)
3. Become intentional with your time
What we do with our time reveals what we value. Living intentional days frees us to cultivate our communities. There are a few ways to simplify what makes community feel so difficult. Identity friends who live nearby and try to schedule monthly dinners or game-nights. Put them on the calendar and make it a priority to attend your commitments. Take turns hosting, cooking, or planning the times you spend with friends. Dividing the efforts makes space to both give and receive hospitality, making spending time with one another practical for your family.
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace…” (1 Peter 4:8-10)
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24)
4. Choose to stay, despite differences
Our commitment to one another goes so much further than shared interests. When we have differences or disagreements with those we love, we have a choice. We can choose to leave, or we can do the hard thing. Staying can be hard. In fact, it can be easier at times to simply pull away, slowly leaving the relationship instead of pressing through conflict to the other side. The truth is that the other side of conflict possesses an even deeper connection. As a culture, we are used to quick and easy. But as humans, our design is for longevity with one another. Even when examining the covenant of marriage, we know that God honors and values love that chooses to stay. Instead of evading hard conversations or conflict, learn to connect despite differences. It is in this connection we develop rich and fulfilling friendships.
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
5. Accept that the power of vulnerability will take time
Close friendships and healthy, functioning bodies of believers do not happen overnight. They require hours and years of time spent with one another. Choosing who you want to cultivate community with is not an overnight decision. Anticipating that cultivating a thriving community will take time and prevent disappointment in the growing seasons. Remember that the daily seeds you sow into being in community will pay off in the end. Choosing to develop a community is an act of vulnerability and courage. If you have been hurt from the process of friendship with others, putting yourself out there can be a faith walk. God can lead you into developing relationships each step of the way.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
Jesus at the center of it all
Jesus is in the midst of our gathering. He wants to become the center of our communities and entire lives. Here are a few simple prayers to pray as you invite Jesus to reign in your relationships through the power of vulnerability:
- Holy Spirit, guide the conversations I have with my friends today
- Holy Spirit, teach me to be authentic with you and those you’ve placed in my life
- God, how can I love my community or family well today?
- Jesus, show up in our gatherings this month in tangible ways.
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20)