Growing Deep Devotion #7
2.3 Building Support
The third descriptor for engaging the community is building support. This involves skilfully communicating and negotiating with others (directly or indirectly) in order to build support and develop ownership and shared acceptance for ideas, actions and decisions. It includes preparing thoroughly, understanding the audience and adjusting communication style and approach to appropriately engage with others and their perspectives. It may include working over an extended period of time to build long-term support for strategically important decisions and initiatives.
In the quintessential Australian film of 1997, “The Castle”, Darryl Kerrigan is in his shed with his son Steve at the start of the movie. Steve shows his Dad his invention of a motorcycle helmet with a built in break light. While this is happening younger son Dale Kerrigan says this about his brother… “Steve is an ideas man. That’s why Dad calls him the Ideas Man. He has lots of ideas.” We have all experienced an ‘ideas man’ or person. Someone who is always ready to offer the greatest of ideas but puts them forward and leaves them in the ether for someone else to action.
This descriptor is about moving beyond the ‘ideas man’ to engaging collaboratively with the members of our school community by building support for our ideas by developing a wider ownership for them, and a willingness to changing our ideas when needed. It is an acquired skill that involves reasoning, negotiating, collaborating, changing, adapting and tweaking. All of us have ideas of how to improve learning for students, how to improve wellbeing for students and staff, how to improve the way in which our school operates, the trick is to build support for these ideas amongst our colleagues so that they are owned by staff, students and families alike. Human nature makes it is too easy for us to be overly critical of someone else’s ideas and shoot them down or on the other hand we can think that we do not have ideas of value and worth to share with others. Creating the space where people are willing and able to share their ideas and thoughts, and are free to collaborate to build on them and extend them is what a learning organisation is all about. St Paul puts it this way in Galatians 6:5-6; Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life. Be very sure now, you who have been trained to a self-sufficient maturity, that you enter into a generous common life with those who have trained you, sharing all the good things that you have and experience.
In a Christian learning organisation, we encourage everyone to do their creative best with their God given gifts but we also acknowledge that we share in a “generous common life” which spills over into the lives of others. We are part of a grace filled community which means we are free to share our talents, ideas and abilities with others because we have been shown the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. We belong to a God who is generously overwhelming in the good gifts he gives us. As people formed by the Holy Spirit we can break out of the self-sufficient mode of thinking and operating as we engage in the blessings of being in community. Looking beyond the scarcity mindset, the perceived lack of resources, money and people to a culture of abundance and generosity of God’s good providence is vital to our healthy functioning in Christ. Sharing in the generous common life we have is a constant message we need to hear if we want to change the culture in our school communities to be one of freedom where staff and students alike are equipped to support one another’s ideas, plans and actions.
Lord God, you have placed me into the community of this school. You have given us great colleagues and staff who have tremendous gifts, creative abilities and ideas. Help me to act out of your abundance rather than my scarcity. Help me to join in the generous common life we share. Help me to encourage and build support for ideas that engage children and young people in learning and in growing in your grace. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
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"Meditations & Musings" is my humble attempt to share what I have found useful in ministry in an Australian Lutheran School setting. It contains chapels, devotions and other resources I have written, used and adapted in my K-12 school context. If you would like to also share your ideas, resources or start a conversation about mission and ministry in your church- school location, feel free to contact me.
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