“No, I Do It!!!” rings through the house again from another two year old declaring independence. Without any training, prompting or coaching each of our children discovered a love for doing things by themselves. The parental high wire act strung between correcting methods doomed to fail and freedom to create is one of the arts parents start to learn during this phase of life. Eventually each child figures out how to put the shoe on and that listening to the advice of a parent does help the child to do it themselves. For those of us who are parents or have watched this early childhood exchange, we have some fond memories and laughs at our kids and ourselves for taking things too seriously. Here are a few things I have observed on the high wire (and been reinforced by parenting a teenager...) that have shaped the way I approach people and as a development worker.
Mission Resource invests in people cultivating their own sustainability. Our staff has a lot of dreams and all of them center on helping people to be an active part of growing the Kingdom of God while achieving their dreams. Asset-based development is not parenting, but coaching lessons from tying shoes are important reminders for me.
1. Goals Have Different Motivations
One of my children wanted to put shoes on whenever I did—because he saw dad do it, he needed to wear shoes also. Another child is constantly drawn to action and the outdoors and when they had the need for speed, they needed shoes. The same goal of putting on shoes can have multiple motives—even from the same child. To coach the correct shoe onto the correct foot with the correct security method (BTW—I love Velcro—thanks NASA), the parent must discern the “motive of the moment.” We have to know our kids outside of that moment to know what is making them tick in the moment.
Each person Mission Resource interacts with is an independent person making changes in their life to achieve their dreams. More simply, each human being is worthy of dignity and honor because they exist. Our job is to coach and walk with potential clients to be their best and accomplish all they can with their God-given talents, dreams and desires. We listen, discovering and discerning goals and motives for business ventures. We must get to know people, their short term and sustaining goals and motivations. If we do not understand where a person is coming from, that means we need to do more work and invest more in the relationship.
2. Don't Squash & Don't Be Squishy
Independence is great. Some of the goals Anna and I have in raising our children are them to establish their own homes, sustain themselves with jobs and fulfill their dreams of career, family, travel and whatever else while following The Way of Jesus. Each of our kids has quiet and loud ways of stating exactly what they need and want—which is a great thing. By finding their voice, they are able to write the narrative of their life. I've learned the strong willed moments are a cry more like “Work with me!” than anything else. “Work with me” may mean that I need to correct an assumption, just let go, give verbal encouragement, show and tell or a lot of other things. If I try to correct (as member of perfectionist anonymous it happens too much) instead of letting natural consequences play out too often, I'm a nag. At the same time, just letting something slide does not let my child know that I can and will help them. Pretty soon we all figure out the left shoe does not feel good on the right foot and vice versa and either by believing a coach or pain. How we parents coach our kids to live says more about us and our capacity and commitment to communicate than the ability of the child.
Mission Resource does not blindly give loans to everyone we meet. We solidly correct thinking about business plans and push back on ideas to help the owners to have better plans and execution. There are times when we get overwhelmed by needs and the results of poverty, but in our role as lender, we can only help those with good business plans and the drive to make a business work. Those who are not yet ready to launch or grow their business, our staff does not squash dreams. We help them by asking hard questions in an appropriate way so the person can choose to make changes in their business model and/or commitment to run a business. Mission Resource is at its best when we help others find the best they have to offer themselves and their customers.
3. Only Independent People Can Be Interdependent
Chores are a great way for our kids to contribute to their own and the family's well being. Whether it is the small ones gathering laundry, young ones feeding chickens or older ones mowing the lawn, each person is able to see how their work improves their life and the family. Chores also remind us that we are being served everyday as we are serving those around us. Independent kids can accomplish something for others creating an interdependent family. Another parental goal is to teach how the independence and interdependent rules that apply in work are also be true of healthy relationships.
Mission Resource models and teaches interdependence within one's family, community and calling.
By helping business owners become more independent of their circumstances, they are able to build others around them. We are offering loans far below market rates helping people get ahead. The prime rate in Ghana is 25% leaving people with a high credit risk, the status of most of our clients, paying 72% APR or more. Mission Resource is able to use its strength and give loans at 24% keeping in stride with current inflation and also serve business owners. Our staff's demonstration of serving from our strength encourages clients to do the same for others. Independent people can work together to change communities and the world.
To the best of our ability, Mission Resource is trying to answer the call of “Work With Me” by serving with the best of what we have. Thanks for helping us answer the call for some that all of us have been crying with words and actions since we were children.