I always want to believe in the potential in a community. I think teams work, no matter who is on the team. I believe in the potential of working together, even in the context of those that do not buy into the goals or the process. My simple belief often seems ignorant and na?ve.
As I gain more experience, my thinking has moved. Teams work, but not all teams are successful. Working together will bring results greater than the sum, yet the outcome is never guaranteed. Communities, institutions, and partnerships are not sacred entities. They exist in the context of values, priorities, and relationships. Ideally, they work for the benefit and support of everyone that is involved.
Knowing this has brought me to a point where I believe but verify, trust but never assume, and engage but keep a watchful eye. I am willing to take the risk of being engaged. I also know that things may not work. People may not work for the benefit of the greater good. Individuals may be agents of Evil. If I engage, I may be hurt.
I am not the first to encounter this problem. Saul was doing the right thing, “but then he ran afoul of a group called Hellenists-he had been engaged in a running argument with them-who plotted his murder.” (Acts 9.29) He may have focused on the mission yet that did not prevent others in the community of tearing at his soul from the inside out.
There is a lesson I find myself walking with. Communities are extensions of God's family. You and I are members of that family. While I might want to exclude others, God decided who was in and out. We are all in! I control my side of the equation. It is an important area to focus on.
I do not control what you or anyone else chooses to do. It can be prudent to keep my guard, yet even in being hurt I can do Spirit's stuff. Running away is not the answer. Walking with others on the journey is.
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