Month: August 2014
Last week, I wrote a post about how to support someone leading a revolution. This post was written at the very beginning of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and mere hours before the simmering anger in Ferguson, MO turned into a full blown fire. These two topics may seem to have little in common, but both inspired a fury of commentary on the role of the individual in impacting change.
You’d think all “do gooders” would get along. We have one important thing that unites us – we all want to do good deeds and serve the world we live in. But for most issues we unknowingly separate ourselves into two distinct camps with opposing views on what doing good truly looks like. And that’s where the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and Ferguson, MO brought our differences to the surface. All week my Facebook feed was filled with conversations bordering arguments from some of the most amazing and compassionate servers I know. Which camp are you arguing for – Evolutionary Servers or Revolutionary Servers?
The definition of evolution I’m using
The gradual development of something, especially from a simple to a more complex form.
How Evolutionary Servers affect change
Evolutionary Servers work within the current system to make gradual improvements. They take a pragmatic approach to meeting the needs of today first, but also plan for the needs of the future.
Why they’re needed
- Evolutionary Servers meet people where they are. They often figure out how to get a broader audience more engaged even if they aren’t fully committed yet. They open the door to dialogue usually in a non-confrontational manner.
- An example from this week: ALS is a horrific disease that is grossly underexposed and underfunded. So Evolutionary Servers don’t mind using tactics like a somewhat trivial Ice Bucket Challenge to raise immediate funds and awareness. They are not overly concerned that the funding is coming from less committed donors. They are not overly bothered by the fact that the funding level will not likely return again. They are successfully serving in the here and now. And right here and right now they have raised a lot of money and are bringing in a major victory for a cause that desperately deserves it.
- Evolutionary Servers are trusted and respected by the masses. Their efforts though slower to bring about large scale change prepare the world for the right time to support a revolution.
Why they often clash with Revolutionary Servers
- Evolutionary Servers sometimes feel attacked by their revolutionary counterparts. They want to stand with them but don’t appreciate being judged when they don’t push the envelope as far (or as fast) as Revolutionary Servers want to see it go. They view Revolutionary Servers as preachy, judgmental and at times unrealistic.
- An example from this week: Evolutionary Servers found themselves “called out” for not speaking out against injustice. Many wanted to withhold comment until the facts surrounding Michael Brown’s death were more concrete and tensions in Ferguson had reached more manageable levels.
- Emotionally, Evolutionary Servers have spent a great deal of energy improving a current system. Having that system completely changed by Revolutionary Servers could appear to invalidate their efforts.
The definition of revolution I’m using
An overthrow of a government or social order in favor of a new system.
How Revolutionary Servers affect change
Revolutionary Servers work to overhaul a current system in favor of a brand new system. They believe the current system is broken. They work within the old system to support immediate needs, but their main goal is to overthrow the old unjust or ineffective system in favor of a new one.
Why they’re needed
- Revolutionary Servers are the people that provide new opportunities for a better world beyond what we can currently imagine.
- An example from this week: To a Revolutionary Server the Ferguson case is an electrifying catalyst to address more than just the actions of a single police officer. It is an opportunity to engage individuals and institutions in an action-focused campaign for massive change. Revolutionary Servers stand ready to push the catalyst for revolution into systematic change. And they are not shy about forcing discussion and action.
- Revolutionary Servers are the people that make the masses uncomfortable. They push people out of their comfort zones and make individuals they touch better for it.
Why they often clash with Evolutionary Servers
- Revolutionary Servers sometimes see Evolutionary Servers as a hindrance to systematic change. Because Evolutionary Servers work within the current system their successes help give the appearance that the need for massive overhaul is less acute.
- An example from this week: This is where the Ice Bucket Challenge caused so much tension. It is a win for ALS funding and the researchers that need that money right this second. But it is a potential loss for anyone that wants to see the current system of “disengaged giving to charity” replaced with a new system of “committed partnerships for change”. Revolutionary Servers see a win for the old system as a setback in the movement towards the new system. And the Ice Bucket Challenge was a BIG win for the old system.
Are both camps needed?
Could the camps work better together?
Would love to hear your thoughts.
Please post them via social media or in the comments below.
There’s something magical about close friends talking with nothing in particular they need to cover. The conversation is free to dart all around and uncover new ideas. Yesterday, I was able to enjoy one of those unstructured phone calls with a friend while she waited at the airport. Somehow the conversation landed on the concept of falling in love and whether it’s possible to feel those feelings without a romantic relationship. I believe you can find many of those feelings through service. Here’s how:
- Service (like falling in love) deepens your own self-worth. It is important that I differentiate “falling in love” with “being in love”. Falling in love is more about how YOU feel than anything you’re giving to the other person. Falling in love is you appreciating someone else for appreciating you. Being in love is when you start the real work of loving them. Service definitely requires that you do work for others, but there’s a very personal impact as well. Service reminds you that you make a difference and that you’re valuable. Self-worth makes you feel safe and maybe even a bit invincible. This is similar to how you feel when falling in love.
- Following a service passion (like falling in love) requires deep vulnerability. Letting someone into your heart is extremely vulnerable. It is scary and dangerous, but it also feels great. It feels great because deep down you want to be truly known for the beautiful imperfect person you are. You may fear vulnerability, but you also crave it. You have to bring down your walls to let love in. It feels scary and exhilarating, but it also feels natural. Being open is our natural state. Service inspires the exhilaration of vulnerability as well. You have to care to act. You have to act to serve. Caring forces you to open up emotionally to let compassion in.
- Service (like falling in love) helps you grow and discover the things that you and you alone can offer this world. When falling in love, you see a magnificent reflection of yourself in your lover’s eyes. Finally you feel seen and known. And I don’t mean known for the small details that have made up your life. I mean known for the things that uniquely make you a glorious being. I’m talking about your perfect combination of wit, humor, strength, weakness, intellect, spirituality, etc. This will include other attributes like how adventurous, sensitive or faith-filled you are. When you’re falling in love your special God given gifts rise to the surface and become more pronounced. It’s like your lover has held a mirror up that shows you more than just physical beauty. This mirror shows you, “you.” It shows you the person you always knew was in there, but you may not have seen for a long while. And you’ve missed this version of yourself…a lot. Service is a similar mirror. It gives you a place to bring your gifts and uniqueness out of the shadows and place them on full display. It gives you a place to see and be your glorious self.
Would you like to fall in love again and again?
This weekend my husband and I had some extended time with a young man that we consider to be a part of our family. He wasn’t brought into our lives by birth, but he was bought into our hearts for a purpose. He’s going to start a revolution and he’ll need our support.
When I picked this title I thought I better make sure I knew exactly what the definition of revolution was, so I looked it up. Here’s what I found:
Revolution: A forcible overthrow of a government or social order in favor of a new system.
At the ripe old age of 19, I see the spark of revolution in this young man. His particular revolution involves overthrowing the social order that views almost anything that is synonymous with the inner-city as “hood” and “ghetto” and therefore inferior. This is a very complex issue. Like most revolutionary campaigns it will be hard work and require a massive commitment to service.
I’ve never been someone to start revolutions, but I think it’s important to support them. Revolutions don’t just make things better, they change the world. They introduce concepts and systems that were previously off our radars all together. Revolutionary people are often very passionate about service, but they need to be served as well. Supporting them fuels the fire that sets the revolution aflame. Here are three things to consider when offering support to a revolutionary thinker in your life.
- Don’t be afraid of crazy. Try to let your mind think beyond our current realties. There was a time, not that long ago, when the internet did not exist. Even democracy was once a brand new concept. Were these things crazy at the time? Yes. Were their founders crazy? Yes. Would you have been able to support them?
- Embrace naivety. In most cases being naïve can be a detriment, but in a revolution it’s a strength. People that are well grounded and informed often get deadlocked by the complexity of finding a reasonable solution. But the naive get right to action. They start trying because they believe they can make a difference. And they do, because they are actually working on it. We can offer them wisdom, but it’s important not to crush the innocence that’s fueling the revolution.
- Be a safe place. Believing passionately in something (anything) opens you up to examination and judgment. Grant them your unconditional acceptance. Make sure they know that if they make mistakes along the way, they will be learning moments. Let them know that any learning moments will just make them better prepared to serve.