Our good intentions trip us up. We want to do more than we actually know how to do.
There is a part of me that loves this about myself. I am willing to jump in, try things out, take risks, and barrel forward in almost every area of life. The problem is that this is how I have approached serving people and justice. Often my enthusiasm has left other people in my wake of failed attempts at help and misguided intentions.
How do we follow through on our good intentions to help and serve others without dishonoring the very people we hope to help? How do we know where to start if we have not been previously engaged? How can we actually be a part of purposeful impact in our world?
I think it starts with recognizing that the work does not start with us. The work of loving neighbor, social justice, and care for the poor has a long history- not just in the world but in our own communities. Before we start serving in our community, have we listened to those who have gone before us? Have we sat at the feet of the elders in our city? Are we aware of the work happening in our community? Have we sat in the pain of our neighbors and heard their dreams? Have we recognized and celebrated the changes that are happening in our neighborhood?
After 15 years of community development work in Westside Costa Mesa, I know what it is to be the new kid in the mix, over-confident and optimistic in my enthusiasm for impact. And I know what it is to humbly repent of the uber-thin line that I often crossed between my enthusiasm and damaging arrogance.
These days I experience the cynicism and demoralization that comes as new people come to town, sure they can solve our problems with their disconnected strategy. My heart is grieved as new organizations unintentionally erase and disregard the work of my heroes who have faithfully served for decades in our neighborhood.
So what if we made a pact? Let’s commit to slow down and look up. Let’s commit to seek out the justice fighters and faithful servants in our community, particularly the ones who have not written books or taught seminars or run organizations but have put in the time and relationship building over the long haul. Let’s commit to listen to their stories. Let’s make a pact to take their advice and follow their lead. Let’s recognize our need to learn from them and position ourselves as their students. Let’s make a pact to be Listener Learners.
Let’s Make a Pact:
I commit to take a posture of listening and learning as I engage in my community. This includes listening curiously to elders in our neighborhood and seeking the insights of people who have lived here for a long time. I vow to hold up the stories of those who have gone before and elevate the work of others before myself. This pact binds me to recognize my place in a long line of Kingdom work and community that I am privileged to be a part of.
Enter your email below to sign the pact.
I promise not to spam you. I just know signing your name makes it real.