25 Ways to be a Good Neighbor
Since September 28 is National Good Neighbor Day, I thought this would be the perfect time to share this list of 25 ways to be a good neighbor.
Compiling the list was easy. Our family has been blessed with lots and lots of wonderful neighbors throughout the years, so it was a simple matter of remembering all the kind things they’ve done for us along the way.
Even if you haven’t been fortunate enough to have such neighbors as I’ve described below, you can BE that kind of neighbor to the people around you. Treat others the way you’d want to be treated, right?
That’s why our family has attempted to pay it forward by adopting these 25 practices ourselves and reaching out to new neighbors the way old ones reached out to us.
Make the first move, even if it feels awkward. Tell them your name. Remind them again if it’s been a while since you last saw them or you run into them in a different context. “Hi, Jane. I’m Jennifer. I met you at the pool last summer. How have you been?” Learn their names and use them in conversation to reinforce your memory. Exchange phone numbers with them.
“Act wisely toward outsiders, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” – Colossians 4:5-6
Have them over
Be hospitable. Open your home. Invite your neighbors in for coffee and conversation. Welcome them warmly. Don’t worry about dust on the furniture or dishes in the sink. If you wait until your house is Pinterest perfect, you’ll never have anyone over at all.
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” – Hebrews 13:2
Spend time outside
Sit on your porch. Putter around in the garden. Play ball with your kids. Walk around the block. Let your family become a familiar sight in the neighborhood. Being outdoors together makes you more accessible and approachable and invites neighborly interactions.
“Make your front porch a part of your home, and it will make you a part of the world.” – John Sarris
Wave to your neighbors when you see them out and about. Smile at them. Engage in casual conversation. Ask how they’re doing and listen attentively when they answer.
“Don’t wait for people to be friendly, show them how.” – Author Unknown
Bring them a meal
Food is a great way to welcome newcomers to the neighborhood and make old ones feel cared for. Is your neighbor recovering from an illness? Is she shut in and lonely? Is he recovering from surgery? Did they just have a baby?
Then bake them a casserole. Or make a double batch of whatever you’re having for dinner and take half to them. Shared meals are a great way to support neighbors during difficult times.
“Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.”- Isaiah 58:10
Keep the noise down
Whether your neighbor is convalescing or not, be mindful of how much noise you make. Do your best to provide a peaceful environment for those who live near you. Turn down the music. Don’t shout or slam doors. It’s fine to laugh and have fun, but dial down the volume, especially during quiet hours when others may be sleeping.
“If someone blesses his neighbor with a loud voice early in the morning, it will be counted as a curse to him.” – Proverbs 27:14
Loan a tool
Do you have a fertilizer spreader, a post hole digger, a circular saw, or any other infrequently-used tool that would make a job your neighbor is doing easier? Offer to let them borrow it. Our neighbors have saved us bundles by loaning trailers, welding equipment, dollies, and other things we’d never have dreamed of asking for on our own — right when we needed them most.
“It is better to be a lender than a spender.” – Jim Rohn
Be a peacemaker
Do your best to get along with your neighbors. Treat them respectfully. Make allowances for different backgrounds, values, and belief systems. Don’t grumble against them or act easily offended. If they have a problem with you, listen attentively to their complaint and work toward a satisfactory solution.
Celebrate their accomplishments
Cheer your neighbors on. Remember special days like birthdays and anniversaries. Rejoice with them over new babies, weddings, graduations, and job promotions. Offer your best wishes and heartfelt congratulations.
“Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.” – Luke 1:58
Pray for them
Lift your neighbors up in prayer. Pray for their health and wellbeing. Pray for their family. Pray for your relationship, that you’d be able to live in harmony alongside them. If they do not know Christ, pray for their salvation and for opportunities to be the hands and feet of Jesus in their lives.
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, persistent in prayer.” – Romans 12:12
Lend a hand
I love the way pioneers pitched in to help with burdensome tasks. The whole community would show up for a barn raising. They’d knock the work out in short order and have a great time doing it.
You may not have any neighbors who need help building a barn, but you could help move boxes, rake leaves, shovel snow, and the like. Stay alert for opportunities to lend a hand, and you’re sure to find them.
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” – Galatians 5:13
Throw a party
Consider hosting a block party, a holiday brunch, or an ice cream social. Not only does this give you the opportunity to get better acquainted with your neighbors, but it allows them to get to know one another better, as well.
We love any excuse to invite friends over. We’ve hosted family olympic games, Bible studies, and neighborhood ping pong tournaments. For years a friend of ours hosted a weekly potluck dinner where everybody on the block brought their leftovers and shared a meal together. Fellowship doesn’t have to be fancy to be fun.
“Life is a celebration. Consider everything that makes you happy as a gift from God and say, ‘Thank you.'” – Francis Lucille
Share your blessings
Do you have a vegetable or flower garden? Share produce or bouquets with the people who live near you. Do you subscribe to magazines or the daily news? Read them early and pass them along to a neighbor who might also enjoy them. This is how our family was first introduced to WORLD Magazine — by a neighbor who faithfully passed his bi-monthly issues along to us once he’d finished perusing them. Some other neighbors built a basketball court in their backyard and extended an open invitation for our kids to shoot hoops there whenever they like. We’ve had similar offers from a neighbor with a swimming pool.
“God can bless you with everything you need, and you will always have more than enough to do all kinds of good things for others.” – 2 Corinthians 9:8
Keep their confidence
If your neighbor comes to you for counsel, don’t blab their business to others. Nobody likes a gossip. Show yourself to be a discreet and trustworthy confidant.
“They… waste their time in going around from house to house; but even worse, they learn to be gossips and busybodies, talking of things they should not.” – 1 Timothy 5:13
Maintain your property
To the degree that you are able, keep your house in good repair and yard looking nice. Not only is doing so a way to wisely steward what God has given you, but it will bless your neighbors, as well, and will contribute to their own property value.
“Being a good neighbor is an art which makes life richer.” – Gladys Taber
Keep a lookout
Last time we were in London, the subways were plastered with posters that read, “See it. Say it. Sort it.” In other words, commuters should keep their eyes open and report anything suspicious to the authorities so it can be investigated. The same slogan works in a neighborhood, too. If you notice anything out of the ordinary going on at the home of a neighbor — smoke, leaks, strangers, ambulances — call to check up on them and make sure everything is all right.
“Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:4
Share your expertise
Do you know how to sew, bake, paint, cut hair, or do some sort of handcraft? Are you tech-savvy or good at growing things? Be willing to teach your neighbors what you know or answer questions they may have in your area of expertise. When I was 7-years-old, my mother sent me to a neighbor to learn how to crochet, and I’ve been at it for nearly 50 years since and have given similar lessons to others who were eager to learn.
“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” – Albert Einstein
Offer your services
Do your kids attend the same school or play on the same sports team as your neighbor’s children? Offer to carpool. Would you be willing to water your neighbors’ plants or collect their mail while they’re on vacation? Let them know. Are you willing to walk their dog while you walk your own or swap childcare. Discuss the possibility with your neighbor and come up with a plan.
“Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother who is far away.” – Proverbs 27:10“
Empathize with their Losses
Living in community means having myriad opportunities to “mourn with those who mourn; weep with those who weep.” Has your neighbor lost a loved one, a job, or a family pet? Has she struggled with health problems, received a terminal diagnosis, or faced some other stress-inducing situation? Offer condolences and a sympathetic ear. Listen as they process, avoid pat answers, and ask for specific ways you can help.
“Remember those in prison as if you were bound with them, and those who are mistreated as if you were suffering with them.” – Hebrews 13:3
Let your neighbors know how grateful you are for them. Offer sincere words of encouragement and praise. Point out qualities you appreciate about them. If they routinely do any of the things on this list, thank them for it and count yourself blessed.
“There is no such thing as gratitude unexpressed. If it is unexpressed, it is plain, old-fashioned ingratitude.” – Robert Brault
Meet a need
Jesus gave a pretty broad definition of neighbor that encompasses far more than the few people who share our apartment building or block or subdivision. And He also made it clear that feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, clothing the naked, and otherwise caring for the needy counts as if we’d done the same for Him.
“If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? In the same way, faith also, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” – James 2:15-17
Serenade them with song
Our family loves Christmas caroling from door to door every December. We drop off flyers in advance asking anybody who is at home and would like for us to sing to them in their front yard that evening to leave their porch lights on.
“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is by singing loud for all to hear.” – Buddy the Elf
Give thoughtful gifts
Speaking of Christmas, the holiday season is a great time to remember your neighbors with a thoughtful gift. If you enjoy cooking, bake banana nut bread for the neighbors or take them some other treat from your kitchen. If you’re crafty, make them a Christmas ornament. Or take them store bought cookies or a pretty Poinsettia. Anything to let them know you’re thinking of them.
“Christmas means giving. The Father gave the Son, and the Son gave His life. Without giving, there is no true Christmas, and without sacrifice, there is no true worship.” – Gordon B. Hinckley
Set the example
Live a life of integrity. Be joyful and humble and kind. Do right by others. Treat them the way you’d want to be treated.
“Outdo yourselves in honoring one another. Do not let your zeal subside; keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” – Romans 12:10-11
Share the Gospel
If your neighbors do not already know Jesus, sharing the gospel is the best, most loving thing you will ever do for them. But unless you first do at least a few of the other things on this list to build rapport, they may not be very interested in anything you have to say.
Live out the gospel before them. But also use words. Invite them to church services, outreach events, and/or home Bible studies. But also pray for opportunities and boldness to have frank discussions about their faith. Because all the rapport in the world will not save them if they never come to grips with the gravity of personal sin and their desperate need for a Savior.
“But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” – Romans 10:14
Loving your neighbor is serious business. Jesus said it was the greatest commandment, second only to loving God with all your heart, soul, and mind. (see Matthew 22:36-39) If it is that important to Him, shouldn’t it also be important to us?