31 March, 2008

Help me Help you Help me

One of my favorite things to hear come from the mouths of my daughters is the question, "Can I help you with that?". Especially my oldest daughter Avigail has started asking this question a lot.

Many times the question comes in the kitchen, when Keeley or I are cooking a meal. Another common context for this precious question is when I am using my tools to fix or build something.

This morning I heard Avigail pose this question to Keeley in another room and it started me thinking about the ramifications it carries with it. One of the things I considered is the tremendous opportunity to learn that can result from this question. If Keeley and I are careful to grant their requests to help (when possible of course), then our daughters will have the chance to be exposed to many real-life situations and to learn from them.

I want my girls to know how to use common tools to fix stuff, but how will they learn if I don't let them help me? I want my girls to know their way around a kitchen and how to cook meals, but how will they learn if we don't let them crack some eggs?

Next I considered what my reasons are for saying no to their requests to help me. Now I am not saying that every time they ask to help I should say yes, certainly there are times when it is not realistic. But surely I could say yes more than I currently do. So why do I say no when I could say yes? Without having to expel too much smoke from my ears by overtaxing my small brain, I came to the conclusion that the majority of times I say no when I could say yes it is because it would cause me to be inconvenienced.

Yuck. I feel ugly just typing it. It would be easier for me if you don't help me, that's what I am really saying isn't it? I can get this project done faster if you don't help me. I can make breakfast faster and with substantially less mess if you don't help me.

I'll get to the obvious personal application in just a moment.

This thought journey took me next to the fine art of delegation. I will be the first one to admit that I am not good at delegating. I would like to think that I am getting better at it, but I am certainly not where I believe the Lord would want me to be with it yet. For 7 years I had the distinct honor of serving under Pastor Alan Shelby at the Kansas City Baptist Temple. In my opinion, one of Alan's greatest gifts is his ability (and willingness) to delegate. I personally experienced and was witness to many instances when Alan was approached with an idea for ministry by someone serving under him. With a great deal of wisdom, Alan would usually allow the person with the idea to take it and run with it. Many times the person was qualified to undertake the task at hand, but there were other times when it was going to be a stretch for them to accomplish it. I believe Alan was putting into action the same principle that I need to use with my daughters.

Let people try things even though they may fail, even though they may make a mess that will need to be cleaned up (by me). This is how we learn. This is how we grow. It is true for our kids, and it is true in ministry.

I have been guilty of sitting under some great delegators and enjoying growth as a result, then turning around and not granting that same opportunity to those I have influence with.

Growth through trying (and sometimes failing), that's the way God grows me many times. I want to create that kind of environment for growth for my kids and for those God would allow me to influence in His kingdom.

And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way
wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do. Exodus 18:20

Are you a good delegator? Have you had someone in your life that gave you chances to grow through trying, someone who shewed you how to walk?

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