DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

“Just tell me what I should do”

Written by: on October 31, 2014

A few months ago I watched Bob Schieffer’s interview on “Face of the Nation” with former US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright. Albright summed up the world’s current condition by saying “the world is a mess.” Madam Secretary is right. Her interview focused on the conflict between Ukraine and Russia and the Gaza and Israel conflict, terrorism, the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) epidemic in West Africa and it’s scanty evidence in America. With such brokenness and sadness events, where does change even begin, one might ask? I am here reminded of the preface of the Friedman’s book, A Failure Of Nerve: Leadership In The Age Of The Quick Fix; where the author launches out with provocative story lines like, “playfulness can get you out of a rut more successfully than seriousness”. Humor is one way to playfully navigate through some of the painful moments of life. However, when stress persists and the push and pull strikes, how playful can a leader be? Isn’t it time to “do something about the situation in order to fix what’s broken or bring the cause of trouble to an end?”

I have repeatedly met groups of people who have felt need to do something about ending poverty in certain locations in Uganda and the Africa continent. Some are doing a reasonable job at addressing issues of poverty and others have frankly mentioned the fact that they do not know what to do.  It is known that most people have the desire to help from a place of good intentions. In fact the act of helping can be a good thing. Scripture notes, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” [1] Now in the case of the people who find themselves between the tensions of the desire to help but might be struggle with insight on whether what they are doing is helpful, there is need to acquire wisdom about the issues. Is it a perceived need? Is there more to “felt need”? Whose felt need?

People’s positive intentions are valid but even then intentions in and of themselves are not enough. Friedman suggest the need to be clear about one’s own personal values and goals and the need take maximum responsibility for one’s own emotional being and destiny rather than blaming others or the context. The capacity to take a stand in an intense emotional system is absolutely necessary and the need of maintaining a non-anxious presence in the face of anxious others[2] is paramount. Friedman’s book provides wisdom which seeks to address the reactive nature of American civilization. His book shades light on the anxiety that represents it’s self in the “just tell me what I should do” attitude or put in other words, “God is not using me”.

It is beneficial to embrace an attitude of adventure, which allows for patience, discomfort, hope, faith, love, the spirit of research and exploration.

 

 

 

[1] 1 John 3:17

[2] Edwin H. Friedman, A Failure Of Nerve: Leadership In The Age Of The Quick Fix (New York, NY: Church Publishing, 2007) 183

About the Author

Michael Badriaki

11 responses to ““Just tell me what I should do””

  1. mm Deve Persad says:

    I appreciate your thoughts here Michael. The capacity to bring a sense of “playfulness” to otherwise serious situations, is definitely a gift that some have and others don’t. You also speak of the “reactive” nature of American culture as an obstacle in our leadership development. It’s certainly something that is prevalent. I wonder how you address this reactive nature in your leadership circles?

    • Michael Badriaki says:

      Thanks Deve for the comment. While growing up in Uganda life was highly unpredictable and it was evident to that the only stability we where given was the grace of God. Anxiety only served to encourage doubts, mistrust in God and health issues.

      Even in the US, I am constantly reminded and aware that it’s futile to put one’s trust in human beings at the expense of trusting the creator. I find peace, justice and joy in rendering my concerns, anxieties and needs to the loving creator.

      Thanks Deve

  2. Telile Fikru Badecha says:

    Hi Michael, Like Deve, I too appreciate you highlighted the importance of playfulness in leadership. Life wouldn’t be enjoyable without play. You made another great point about “embracing an attitude of adventure, which allows for patience, discomfort, hope, faith, love, the spirit of research and exploration.” While it is not easy to lead on this kind of adventure, I also think it is normal to question our calling every once in a while. What do you think?

    • Michael Badriaki says:

      Telile thanks for you comments. I agree that it’s important for one to reevaluate and assess “calling”. I believe that one’ “calling” goes through phases of growth and maturation.

      Thank you

  3. Michael,

    Thank you for your insightful post. You say something that caught my eye, “Now in the case of the people who find themselves between the tensions of the desire to help but might be struggle with insight on whether what they are doing is helpful, there is need to acquire wisdom about the issues. Is it a perceived need? Is there more to ‘felt need’? Whose felt need?”

    These statements and questions really spoke to me. I am one who wants to help but does not know what to do. So what are the real needs? Those from other cultural groups cannot really know how to help another culture’s needs. The bottom line is that we should be asking questions and listening to nationals rather than speaking and guessing about what the needs are. But how can we do this unless we build real relationship with those from other cultures? I think that this is one of the key problems of world mission. I do not have the answers for any of this, but I do know that there is a need for humility and emotional intelligence, so much so that if we do not figure this out, all we will have will be continued failure and disillusionment. I would like to talk about these matters the next time we meet. Thanks again for making me think.

    • Michael Badriaki says:

      Bill, thanks for the comments. I too look for to chatting more. I always appreciate the insights you bright to conversations.

      Have a great day!

  4. mm Liz Linssen says:

    Hello Michael,
    I love reading your posts as they are so ‘real’ and always with a much-needed challenge to the reader. 🙂
    I appreciate the point you make, “the need take maximum responsibility for one’s own emotional being and destiny rather than blaming others or the context.” The ability to take responsibility for our own emotions and reactions is not an easy endeavour. Our primary instinct is often to apportion blame to others. It takes time to develop the maturity to take responsibility for ourselves.
    It is sad indeed that the world is in such a mess. It probably always will be to some degree until Jesus returns. In the meantime, God has given us the responsibility of taking care of our own little part of His vineyard here on earth. May God give us the wisdom and develop the differentiation in us that we desperately need to do His will, whatever that is for each of us. Thank you Michael for your post. An interesting read.

    • Michael Badriaki says:

      Hi Liz, thanks for the comments. Indeed in a world full of all kinds of events some good and others not good, believer can trust in the faithful creator and also seek to be differentiated leader, as you put it.

      Again thank you!

      Michael

  5. mm Ashley Goad says:

    Michael! My brother, this post makes you think. Reading it made me think of many who are in Haiti and Uganda… Those who have lost hope completely and would rather say, “Just tell me what to do,” instead of taking responsibility for their own destiny, as you so eloquently wrote. Have you met folks like this? And what is it that you say to them to be the encouragement? How do you model change of living for them?

    • Michael Badriaki says:

      Ashley, thanks for the comments and the questions. You are right and as Friedman also put it, the presence of anxiety represented in the phrase “just tell me what I should do”, is in many places. While consulting with a group of poverty alleviation volunteers in the US; I met with attendees who where frustrated with the fact that what they had planned in the US to do in Uganda to “end poverty” was not going well. One of the group members was crying and with so much anxiety yelled, “just tell me what I should do”.

      The group was in a desperate position and it was clear that they were one desperate bunch attempting to end poverty among a group of people in Uganda like the people who said to you “just tell me what I should do” in Uganda and Haiti. I have met such people and I believe that the issue is indicative of both an attitude and structural program. Myself and a group of liked minded Ugandans are trying to do a Christ-centered and long- term intervention that is relevant to our Ugandan context. It hard work but also rewarding. Please Keep us in prayer.

      Thanks Ashley

  6. mm Clint Baldwin says:

    Certainly, in the midst of many serious scenarios, Christ was eminently “playful” in bringing difficult truths to light. This is part of why I like your statement so much. It also juxtaposes well against Albright’s realism. Sure the world is a mess. No argument there. However, it’s also beautiful. And this is where I think Friedman differentiates a bit from Albright. Yes, things may be difficult, but we should seek to move forward beyond these things…think of new ways in which to query and see.
    Thanks for your post. I think that to be the well-differentiated leaders that Friedman would hope for people, alternative ways of seeing the world must be nourished. For this, I think we need multiple groups of which we are part. Having multiple groups of support helps us to be able to remain well-differentiated in each of them while staying responsibly connected.

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