When I moved back from South Africa, I heard all about the Instant Pot and how great of an invention it is, so when I found one at my local Dirt Cheap for well, dirt cheap, I thought I scored. After making 3 or 4 meals with it, I wasn’t happy with any of the results. Neither was my family. I put it in my pantry thinking I might use it to make yogurt or elderberry syrup. That was probably 9 or 10 months ago.
The other day I started thinking, “I should sell that Instant Pot. It’s taking up way too much room in my pantry. I’ve never made elderberry syrup, and the last time I made yogurt was probably 10 years ago.” So I sold it. For more than I paid for it.
This little story isn’t just about my woeful adventures with the Instant Pot. No, this got me thinking about much bigger things like clearing the clutter…physically, spiritually, mentally. So many times we keep things hidden away “just in case” when really we need to get rid of them to create space for more. More time. More relationships. More of what God has for us.
Physically I do this by regularly taking inventory of what’s in my house and thinking back to the last time I used it. I also try to be super intentional of what I bring into my house.
Mentally I do this by having regular times for reading, yoga, prayer and meditation, and exercise. I’m working on incorporating more times of physical creativity, because I’ve noticed how much this opens up space in my brain.
Spiritually I do this by keeping short accounts and forgiving quickly. I’m also working on laughing at myself more. There’s something deeply spiritual about joy and laughter.
What about you? How do you clear the clutter in your life?
5. Learning how to do new things. I’ve had to do this a couple of times recently, and I’ve realized just how much I like the satisfaction of learning how to do something new.
6. Evening walks. It’s probably my favorite time of day to walk. I think it reminds me of Summers spent at my grandmother’s house.
7. Family movie nights. Anyone seen Hamilton yet on Disney+? So great!
8. Options? I do like them, but man. There are SO many choices for electric companies. In South Africa, we had one. My contract with my current provider is ending, so I’m on the hunt for a good plan.
9. Homemade ice cream. That’s EG’s new thing. Man. So good!
10. Fireworks! We saw a fabulous social distanced fireworks show last weekend. My mind drifted to all the years celebrating American Independence Day in South Africa with our dinky fireworks. Such special memories.
In my years of working with people, I’ve seen how the empowerment process involves a slow release of control but not abandonment. In helping people become stronger and more confident, there’s a process of walking with them. It’s not very honoring to have a role, a job, a title dumped in your lap, leaving you to figure it all out. On the contrary, it’s also not honoring to be micro-managed every step of the way. Neither one of those are empowering. Instead, I think it’s kind of like driving a manual. When you’re in first, if you don’t give it any gas or not enough, the car dies. If you give it too much, you lurch forward rather quickly. Neither are pleasant. Instead, you want to maintain a good tension of pressing down on the gas while easing your foot off the clutch. The right tension ensures a great result.
If you want to be empowering, you have to engage the tension and be willing to walk with people and then let go when the time is right.
I originally started this post back in April. Everything in life is a journey, right? Well, from writing this post to empowering others to lead has definitely been a journey of learning and growing.
Several years ago, I realized that I have a passion for empowering leaders. The definition of empowerment is twofold…1. Authority or power given to someone to do something and 2. The process of becoming stronger and more confident. This past year has been marked with an intense journey of learning to empower others to lead as we left South Africa (which by the way, they are doing an incredible job and the process has been nothing short of sweet). I’ve made mistakes along the way, but I’ve also learned so much. The learning process has been so life giving, so I want to take a few posts to share some of my thoughts and learnings. The most important being…
People have to want to be empowered. I’ve worked with many people over the years, and I’ve realized that not everyone wants empowerment. Naturally, we like the label of “leader,” but empowerment isn’t just the glorious title. It involves ownership. Ownership isn’t just taking the credit when something goes well. It also means personally owning when things go badly. That is not easy to do. It’s much easier to blame others which is what happens when ownership isn’t present. Look for those people who want to be empowered and have the courage to own their failures. If you spent your time and energy on trying to empower someone that isn’t interested, you will end up exhausted.
The work we do in the non-profit world can easily be seen as an act of service. However, I’ve been challenged lately to shift my thinking to looking at it as an act of solidarity. Service implies a vertical relationship. Solidarity implies a horizontal, “we’re in this together” kind of relationship. In the spirit of empowerment, solidarity jives much more with me.