Do you love me?
Do a google search for team building activities. If you’ve been in any type of leadership, I know you’ve been down this road before. It’s an endless list of mostly corny activities, that try to bond a group of quiet, insecure, youth group kids. Going through this list triggers flashbacks of shopping at Macy’s with my wife. How could anyone look through all this?
Team building has become a cliche term, but the idea is still important. At Kinwell, we push hard for kinship. We want our students to care about each other and know that we care about them. My tendency is to look for a quick fix to make this happen. Games and conversations about unity are good and helpful, but, on their own, they don’t create the result we want.
Our staff has been learning a lot about vulnerability this month. Vulnerability plays a huge role in crafting the culture we want to see here at Kinwell. When our teachers are willing to be vulnerable with students, walls start to come down. When our focus is our own wellbeing, distance is created between us. If the foundation of my relationship with a student is that I’m here to help them, then we both have an unsaid understanding that they have nothing to offer and I have everything they need. I have no need to be vulnerable, and the wall starts growing. If I can enter a relationship with a student based on curiosity, knowing they have lived a life much different than mine, I can learn from them. Understanding they have something to offer, I can be vulnerable and let them in.
Now we’re both growing together.
Another form of vulnerability is in service. When we choose to serve someone without expecting anything in return, we’re opening ourselves up to be hurt. That’s one of the hardest parts of this job. We’re often trying to help students have better lives and in return we often get ran over or ignored. This situation is hard to handle, but I’m learning to appreciate them. When I serve, I’m opening myself up to be hurt. That hurt exposes something. Am I serving to feel some validation about myself? Or am I serving to be obedient to a higher calling? When we serve as a response to God’s love, it’s a lot harder to be hurt.
We are all called to pursue vulnerability. Scripture tells us to confess our sins to one another so we can be healed. The book of Acts is filled with people who serve and get punished in return. Our mission isn’t to protect our reputation or to chase good feelings. Our mission is to love others more than ourselves, trusting that at our weakest moments, God’s power is the strongest.