• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

Letting go

Letting go BalloonsEvery June, a number of our teams around the world welcome interns who come to explore cross cultural ministry and serve alongside us.  Several weeks with interns are a microcosm of the struggle we often have with ‘letting go’, that is, with releasing people into ministry.

Our tendency is to want to do everything for those interns.  They’re interns, and so in our minds they do not really know what they need to do or how to do it.  So, we often graciously step in to ‘guide them through’ each step of the internship.

Effective training includes content and opportunity for testing applications.  In other words, we give people input and then “release” them to look for ways to apply what they have learned.  The best applications are the ones discovered by the training participants themselves.

I remember one group of interns that helped me begin to learn what it means to ‘let go’, to release people to discover ministry application for themselves.

We had just spent an afternoon explaining the metro system here.  We gave the interns several destinations to visit for themselves, figuring out the best way to get back and forth between these destination points and their apartments.  We all left together and headed for the nearest metro station.  As Rebecca and I stood on one side of the platform, we saw all of our interns on the other side.   We were headed home.  They were headed off to their first destination.  They were on the wrong side of the platform!  I was ready to yell over to them, when my wife simply encouraged me to let them discover their mistake themselves.

The lesson wasn’t over.  A week later, we all met at a local church in Paris for meetings.  I asked the interns what metro line they took to get to the church.  The line they took was not the line I would have taken.  I was just about to say that very thing when I realized they had nonetheless gotten to the church. Their route was a good as mine … maybe even better.

‘Letting go’ does not mean we diminish the quality of our training.  It does mean we allow for more individual discovery rather than always making the discovery for others.



4 Responses

  1. And, as you mentioned, when we let go, we sometimes find that their way is just as good or even more effective and efficient than ours. Sometimes, we are the ones who learn.

    • That is one thing newer workers have helped me with: recognizing that learning is a two way street. In other words, I can learn from new workers (and new disciples) as much as they can learn from me.

  2. What David wrote is a great way to show why discovery Bible study is such a great tool. You can tell someone what is right, but when they discover it themselves it becomes part of them.

    When we become competent in something it is hard to let others do it badly, but that is how we used to be at first, too. Developing people is harder than doing the work yourself. If the goal is just to get something done, you would just do it yourself, But if our goal is also to develop people, then we have to sacrifice efficiency and risk failure of the task for the benefit of those we are training.

  3. Bryan, you really put it well! I appreciated the comment that: “when we are competent in something it is hard to let others do it badly”. You are right on that one! But that is part of gospel humility, learning to lay down our ‘expert hat’ and allow the other to learn and discover for themselves.

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