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Friday, July 29, 2011

Complimentary Community?

I overheard a phrase today that caught my attention. A friend was wondering why their creativity was increasing in a new academic environment when it went nowhere in another excellent academic environment in the past. The response was: "You've got to understand that __________ was not a complimentary community." Wow! Complimentary Community creates a question: what makes a complimentary community and what prohibits it? Is the church I serve a complimentary community?
Competition can hinder the growth of a complimentary community. If I compliment you for a job well done, that means I did not compliment someone else and you win. If we notice and observe excellence we dare not compliment those with whom we are in competition. In a competitive community, any sharing is usually matched with comparison sharing and competitive sharing (e.g. You think you have it bad? Let me tell you how hard it was for me!)
Conformity can also hinder a complimentary community. If the job is to blend in, get along, don't stand out, don't be prideful, you will never hear a compliment because it recognizes the one over agains the many. In a church I was a part of a long time ago I recommended we thank someone for a service they performed. That idea was roundly defeated because then we would be obliged to thank everyone (as if that was a terrible responsibility!). But in this community even being too happy was suspect!
Fear can squelch a complimentary community. When there are rampant toxins in the environment, you dare not stand out to compliment another, just protect your turf and get the job done. The rule of thumb in the fearful community is be safe! At all costs be safe, risk nothing, cover your exposure or you'll get in trouble or be fired.
May we be communities that squander compliments and spread grace!

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