This will be the last blog on community before we bring them all together into one blog and this may be the shortest of the four. I think the statement I am most envious of, that I seem to hear every week is, "vocationally, you have to figure out how to only do one thing, and do it well" or something like, "if you don't learn to do only one thing well, you will be average at several things", and to be honest, neither of those are the most encouraging thought to those of us who seem to wear many hats. However, I think I am coming to a new understanding or a new idea of what it means to wear "one hat - even if you have to wear that one hat in many settings - then again, maybe I'm wrong, and maybe I'm trying to simply justify doing too many things. But for now, I think there is something to this, and this is where this has come from:
A couple months ago while in Chicago I was having a conversation with a friend of mine, Jacob Vanhorn. One of the questions I asked him was, “in a world like ours, where you have many different things pulling at you, how do you successfully become a master at the one or two things as opposed to be a manager of the many things?” His response was brilliant. He said, “sometimes the goal is not so much ‘doing less things or taking less ventures’ but rather having the knowledge of who you are (what type of leader you are), and then knowing what role you should play in the new venture or in your current roles based on who you are…In other words, being able to answer, ‘how am I still being this person in this endeavor?’. When you can no longer identify who you are in what you are doing, then you have either tried to control it too much, micro-manage it too much, or are drowning in the project because you are trying to be someone you are not. If that’s the case you need to let go of it and hand it off to someone who can lead it better in the next stage which requires a different sort of leader, and let them truly lead.” Yes, that made so much sense to me, and I immediately began to look over the many different things I do that were weighing me down, and I could see, how that in those very things that used to bring me joy but now burdened me, I was no longer being me, I was being someone else.
I think this is also true with community renewal, community living, and community development as well. We not only rob the community we are in from the gift of who we are, but we rob others from playing the role they were meant to play when refuse to only play "one part", the part of who we are.
For the longest time I have thought, "I hate being boxed in by what I do" and I do, but I don't so much mind being boxed in by who I am - I am who I am, and that is the role I was created to play in community. You are who you are and that is who you were created to play in community. What comes to mind is Paul's explanation of the parts of the body, or the church in both 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12. The truth is, we actually work against the potential of a community when we try to be more than or different than who we are. It is easy to look toward someone who may be a bit more charismatic in nature, outgoing, multi-tasker, or what have you and think, "I wish I could be them" - the end result is your frustration and the frustration of the whole community. In fact, let me take this to another level - I think one of the best thing or most productive things leaders can do in communities, is to help people become the best them they can be, not the best reflection of us we would like them to be...when we do this, we help them find fulfillment and become a gift to the community; but when we put the weight of "us" on them, we burden them and make the community miss out on what they could have offered.
I think this may be one of the most overlooked aspects of community development, community living, and community renewal - we usually go straight to "what needs to be done" aspect and I really think we need to start with "who we are" or "who have we been created to be" - and I think we will be a lot more effective this way.