Since I can remember, I have heard people say, "the best way to learn something is to teach it". At this point in my life, I am not sure I agree with this 100%. While certainly, the understanding sinks to a deeper level, as you teach someone else what you know, I don't find anything in that statement that addresses the heart. As I have been thinking about this, I believe that the better statement would be "the best way to learn something is to live it".
If I know and truly understand how to change the oil in my car, that knowledge might be helpful in telling someone else how to get started changing the oil in their car, but without the experiences of actually getting the oil plug out of the oil pan, having it split as you take it out, watching the oil miss the drip pan, buying a new plug, finding a solvent to clean the oil out of our fingernails.... do you really know how to change the oil? Can you really teach someone to be good at it? Can you help them through the potential problems and side issues that might come their way? I guess what I am saying here is that intellectual knowledge is a fine thing, but until that matches up with experience, I am not sure it is really "knowing".
So what do you do when you find yourself in a situation where you are leading people who have circumstances in their lives that are outside your areas of experience? Does that invalidate your leadership? Does that mean you must pass off the job to someone else who has that experience? I don't think so. It means that you get under the car with them and pass the towel when the oil hits their face, and move the drip pan closer and hand them a pair of plyers to pull the other half of the plug out. It means you drive them to the store to buy the parts and make sure they have everything they need to finish the job. It means getting your hands dirty. So what if you have never actually changed the oil in a real car before? You learned right along with them and have their experience to add to your own. Isn't it the point of seeing the job (circumstances) through that is what is important anyway? If we are unwilling to be a part of the lives of those we lead, why are we really leading anyway? Jesus modeled servant leadership. It was never about us. That is not why God put us in leadership. It is because somewhere along the way we were willing to put ourselves aside for His purpose. We live (or should) for Him. And that means doing what we see Jesus doing, putting aside our own agenda for His. Being His hands and feet, speaking His words, showing His love in our relationships. I can say from experience, it is not always easy. In fact, it is sometimes the hardest thing to do! But I do believe that this is where God has placed me.
Maybe this hands on approach won't work when you get to a certain level of leadership, maybe you cannot stay so directly involved, or maybe you have to have a more tiered approach. I am not sure. I'll let you know when I get there.... but for now, this is what I am trying to live.
Embrace the Race God Gives You
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