GK Chesterton once said “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.” Intrinsically we all know that everything that is worth anything requires work this side of heaven. Following Jesus and serving His church is often found difficult and so it is left untried. Certainly that is the case within the Foster Care setting. Many don’t even begin the journey to helping out because it is known to be hard. It may be hard, but it is certainly good!
In their book When Helping Hurts, Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert state that “God was furious over Israel’s failure to care for the poor and the oppressed. He wanted His people to ‘loose the chains of injustice,’ and not just go to church on Sunday” (p. 40). The opportunity to serve within the Foster Care community gets at God’s very heart for those who are in need. Getting involved in the solution allows the church to begin a public image makeover that allows the world to see Christ followers as authentically meeting the needs of the lost and the least.
In his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey speaks on the concept of “beginning with the end in mind.”[i] In today’s culture with the adoption of “mapquesting” replacing map reading, the first question that is electronically asked is “where are you going?” As one enters the Faith Bridge training process, it is important to do just that: define the big picture for this project. In a sense, it would be like the initial meeting with a physician and, by showing up, the implication is the end in mind; you want to be made well?
Once knowing the big picture and what it will take to accomplish it, as a participant you will be lead through a journey of self inventory, expectations for participant’s actions and attitudes, and then exposure to calling and self placement within the volunteer mosaic. All this is before you are launched into service. This is similar to a diagnosis and prescription of physical therapy to restore ministry strength and posture before you get on the field and start playing the game.
[i] Covey, S. R. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Personal Lesson in Personal Change. Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press; Revised edition. 2004.
Twenty years ago, Sue Vineyard in her book Megatrends & Volunteerism: Mapping the Future of Volunteer Programs, was able to project ahead and see some of the upcoming trends which are currently facing the leadership development culture particularly in the area of volunteerism. She recognized that the population is aging. This has two major impacts on community service … We will experience a larger pool of potential volunteers ready, willing and able to serve community needs along side a shrinking teen population. We will especially enjoy more career women entering the ranks of the retired who come with a broad expanse of skills, experiences and vital creative energy (Vineyard, page14).[i] She describes a new way of missional leading as “a flexible, fair, fast-paced and future-oriented way of dealing with assignments, that shifts people in and out of work circles according to the strengths and gifts each can bring to the task at hand.” (Vineyard, Page 184)[ii]
With this shift in composition of volunteer teams Vineyard notes tat the ultimate leader will be one who can facilitate and empower a diverse team comprised of a variety of people possessing a variety of gifts in such a way that a variety of needs can be met. In essence, this is her prescription for effective leadership developments for today, and given the reality of our current cultural status, she was right on mark ten years ago.
Business leader and author Max Depree is famous for his saying that the “number one job of a leader is to define reality.” In our current postmodern world where everything goes, someone must have the courage to tell the truth, like the courageous young man in the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale who finally told the Emperor that he had no clothes. Truth be told many situations do not play themselves out as we may have rehearsed them in our mind’s eye. The key is to embrace the reality that is before us, knowing that it is hard and that foster parents can actually be trained to embrace the difficulty and work through it over time