“Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you. Love me and I may be forced to love you.” is a quote by William Arthur Ward, one of America's most quoted writers of inspirational maxims.
I have had this quote in a frame and hanging in my office for more than 15 years. I often reflect on the wisdom of these words in the context of ministry.
Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Many times we are skeptical when someone gives us a compliment and we assume the next step is asking us to do something.
Criticize me, and I may not like you. Unfortunately, if not checked, criticism can abound in our settings and cause many ripples.
Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Although it is not our intent, many times we become so busy in our daily lives that we tend to forget to follow up with someone and this may be perceived as being ignored. This can lead to bad feelings and ultimately less participation.
Encourage me, and I will not forget you. Who among us does not like to be encouraged and appreciated? I know from my own experience that one word of encouragement can make a huge difference in how we can include and empower others to actively become part of our faith community.
Love me and I may be forced to love you. Simplest and hardest of all, but very effective. After all, Mark 12: 29-31 is the greatest commandment to love God and love our neighbor.
This past week, I began reflecting on this quote once again as I thought about concrete ways for us to empower those in our faith communities with the goal of growth in faith lives and numbers in mind. Feeling included is important. Often times we unintentionally exclude those who may be willing to help in ministries. As we experience fewer and fewer people involved in ministry, the end result is “burn-out”.
Rev. Sue Lang, owner of RevWriter Resources , posted a resource on Facebook this week for discovering new insights for us in the church. It’s called Liberating Structures, Including and Unleashing Everyone.
The Liberating Structures website offers an alternative way to approach and design how people work together. The organizers of this site had 3 hunches that resulted in surprises:
Hunch 1 - In collaboration with leaders, they started with the purpose of helping frontline groups innovate. Their hunch was to introduce simple methods to spark new habits and interaction patterns. The new patterns, in turn, unleashed creativity.
Surprise 1: Liberating Structures transcend conventional boundaries.
Hunch 2 - They believed that attracting (rather than compelling) lively participation would generate momentum for change and innovation. Their hunch was to give everyone a choice of many innovative methods (without the pressure of a top-down “best practices” initiative) and pockets of innovation flourished
Surprise 2: Including and unleashing everyone sparks a powerful movement.
Hunch 3 - They believed that widely distributed challenges demanded widely distributed solutions. They found everyone needed to change and contribute for broad, durable impact. Their hunch was that including and unleashing large groups would increase the ownership of solutions.
Surprise 3: Social proof fuels tangible results.
Liberating Structures (www.liberatingstructures.com) affirmed what they discovered and what they now provide as a structure that can be very helpful for organizations. I invite you to take some time to look at the information available on their website to use as a guide and tool for faith communities to encourage ways to include and empower people for ministry.
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