For Sunday, May 1, 2016:
“Student says, ‘I am very discouraged. What should I do?’ Master says, ‘Encourage others.'”
Unattributed meme on Facebook
Back in the days when I was training as a ministry development consultant, I would often find myself discouraged. I was always impressed with the quality and caliber of our groups’ trainers, but I would go back and forth between determination to be as good as they were and then thinking there was no way I could be. Their personalities were so different from my shy, introverted self. They were so confident, they looked and acted so comfortable ‘up there’ in front of us.
During one of the personal evaluations we students received at different stages of our progress, I finally mentioned my discouragement. I loved the material and the people, but I was worried I was not going to be good enough. The head of the program -who, it turned out was as much of an introvert as I was – told me his secret. ‘All you need to do is stay one step, one chapter, ahead of those with whom you’ll be consulting.’
Since then, all those years ago, I’ve learned a few more secrets as well. Of course, there’s a little more to it than staying one step ahead, but that’s a good start. After I was certified as a consultant, I always prepared several steps ahead, to be on the safe side – clients’ questions about next steps, for instance, and expected outcomes.
One of the most important things I learned as I went along, though, was that we were all in it together. Hopefully they learned some things from me, but I always learned from them. I was there as a companion, not – as the jargon was at the time – ‘the sage on the stage.’
The encouragement I received, both in training and once I started working as a ‘real’ consultant, eventually led me to the decision to complete the rest of my undergraduate degree and then to go on with a graduate degree. A few twists and turns, and several years, in between, those decisions led to this blog and, ultimately, The Prompter Room. This little dose of daily encouragement and inspiration is a direct result of my practicum, albeit online rather than with in-person groups and individuals.
My focus may have changed from ministry development to writers’ development, but I still believe we’re all in this together. I know I’m still learning from my companions, thanks to you.