Tuesday, February 19, 2008

empowering thru M-A-W-L

In traveling to England briefly in the fall & recently to Spain, and because of interesting chances for "Austausch" (German = "exchange," i.e., trading stories) with others doing a parallel or maybe in some ways similar job to mine... I wrote down a BUNCH of things in my journal, on the plane 10 days ago! Some pre-suppositions I have about life, Christian ministry and how people relate, etc. I hate to bore you all who are used to my otherwise fun memories & travelogue- look of photos over the last months, but I will delve today into a much more heady philosophical topic. It may not all speak to "you" (the readers...?) because I may be writing in part for me. And if that is so, I do apologize, but maybe that's fine, too.

A statement that makes sense, at first...
1) "I am never going to run or organize or start or develop anything myself. I'm going to train someone else to do it (thereby, meaning to: delegate, coach, train, empower, etc.)."

This sounds good --on the surface. We don't like to control others. We don't want to take over something that might later end up being dependent on us, versus God. We want those we influence or pray for or teach to learn to be self- starters. Afterall, can't God speak to & through them as well as to us? Maybe we're just too tired? Or are juggling too much &, therefore, have to pass on some responsibility way early. Perhaps we hope to use our skills in internet research, coordinating and stimulating discussion. But don't take the time ourselves to put shoe leather to the task and do it!

We can pass on key concepts or ideas, & the other person can actually do a better job of starting a Bible study, or a small group, or a program, or even a church, that 'speaks' to people like himself-- than if I tried to start or run something that might end up looking like it's in "My image." It may frankly be cultural irrelevant, if I do it!

Ok. So here go my concrete brain answers talking back to me, to such a philosophical nebulous idea like that...

-- "So I want this new pilot to fly a jet; yet he never saw a plane before." (after all-- we don't want to influence how he might want to develop a plane that fits his culture, his color preferences for the seat fabric, his background, and needs!)
-- "And I want to never let the new pilot see me fly a plane for awhile before he takes over -- let me just teach him in a classroom (or a simulator... or maybe even a living room or in a Cafe) about flying techniques, and wind sheers, the cockpit and handling emergencies..."
-- "And maybe let's even take it down to a kid's level-- riding a bike. The 7 year old just gets my coaching verbally -- while he stumbles and falls-- but Mommy or Daddy won't risk a 'boo- boo' on their knees to show him how to do it first!"

Of course, I'm being a bit childish. This sounds sarcastic & ridiculous & I may be blowing a statement somewhat out of proportion. But, yes, I have heard this and SEEN this kind of mentality in action more than once.

We're setting people up to fail, because we're afraid of stiffling their creativity and God's speaking through them. Why not "both- and"-- shared by an interesting acryonym: M-A-W-L.

Model. Assist. Watch. Leave. We train people in stages. We "model" what we hope they can do or at least something close to what they're expected to learn. And then give them freedom as they "assist" us (& of course we assist them) hands -on, to figure out God's plan as well as their giftings & 'shape' that is specifically THEM! Later we "watch" them do it, and continue to give feedback, advice and prayer. Eventually, we may in fact actually be living somewhere else. We "leave." Or only have sporadic contact, but we hear about what is going on & trust them (& keep praying)-- from a distance!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Our worship on Thursday on campus was a signficant experience. Florian and Felix led the worship in song.

At our exchange week in January, we had pasta parties on Wednesday actually in 2 student apartments ... then a third "pasta party location" was the pub where we met later on campus with everyone invited...
Here is one of the groups at Hella's place (middle), hanging out in the favorite place for German students-- the kitchen! Actually, in most student apartments there is no living room. Each room is used as a bedroom, so the gathering place is the kitchen! (where else-- I mean, well, would you expect the bathroom?!)

We were ecstatic that the roommates paired up for the week seemed to all get along so GREAT! A God- thing! Mallory (Union Un.) and Janine, who studies education, were hamming it up!

When handing out some cookies and invites at the Fine Arts College, we visited 2 of the German hosts for the students, Friedemann (middle, red shirt) and Ollie (black/yellow jacket), in their college "office"-- as grad students they get a place to work on their master's theses projects.

Our Friday night event was a "mini- retreat" at our church.

We invited some very special guests, friends from Cloppenburg (where I did lang. school years ago). Justine and Marco work with YWAM, helping troubled and homeless youth in South Africa. It was great to catch up and I'm just SO proud of their dedication, faith and courage!