“Let me know how I can help,” everyone says. This is a good sign, said with the best of intentions. People do want to help. However, some people are too quick to offer help. It may sound strange, but offering help too quickly can be a bad thing as it rarely addresses the root of the problem.
This approach to helping, and the pressure to help quickly, is a western perspective. For the most part, American culture values seeing results early which leads to quick fixes. Proskuneo is uniquely positioned to be in and witness a potpourri of cultures that can reshape our idea of helping.
Weighing in on the concept of “helping” are two leaders who could not be better fitted for the role. Abraham Deng, Proskuneo’s worship leader, and Jaewoo Kim, Proskuneo’s PR/Development brain, are leaders, mentors, fathers and most importantly understand what it means to be a brother in Christ. Over coffee at Refuge Coffee Co. (where else?!), it was clear God was speaking through them about building friendship, asking the right questions and when to help. And after a long, caffeine-fueled conversation, one word stood out: hospitality.
Hospitality often conjures images of parties or hotels, but scripture says hospitality is a kind of love.
There’s a brief, and powerful, verse in Romans about hospitality.
“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:13
The ancient Greek work for hospitality, philoxenia, is literally translated “love for strangers”. The passage goes on to say you need to be “given” to hospitality which implies we are to “pursue” people we don’t know with love. This kind of love is an action, not just an offer to support.
The first person to mention the culture of hospitality at Proskuneo was Abraham Deng. Abraham is a quite the storyteller, which is great because he has already lived such an interesting tale undoubtedly written by God. He shared his journey from resettled refugee to worship leader and pastor of Sudanese churches in America. Abraham said hospitality is a mutual relationship and an exchange or sharing of ideas when offering help. When there is no sharing, and help is presented as a quick fix, change won’t take place. “When you come in with the mentality of ‘I know it all, I’ll fix it,’ you will find resistance. Even if the person accepts it, they may never use the advice because it either hurts pride or destroys identity.”
Just like a host prepares for a party, mentors need to prepare a welcoming, comfortable environment for each interaction. Jaewoo Kim said he first asks himself questions about how he should equip and empower others before diving in to help. “I used to jump in so quickly to helping other people,” Jaewoo said. “As a leader, I felt the need to jump and rescue that person. But I’m learning to wait and ask questions like, ‘How can I give that person authority to exercise their God-given power? What role can I play to be more of a facilitator and leverage that person with a stewardship mindset?’” Jaewoo said then comes the listening, listening and more listening. “Everyone should be quick to listen…” James 1:19
Parents: The Ultimate Hosts
Being a mentor is a lot like parenthood, and parenthood may be the most extreme example of hospitality. Parents have been entrusted by God to care for the next generation and have been called to open their doors to children. Good mentors and leaders should adopt good parenting skills: taking care of others, but not owning them, leading others, while allowing them to make their own choices.
“A typical problem with ministries and missionaries is making people too dependent. They become parents, providing everything and making all the decisions,” Jaewoo said. “Our job should be to play the role of leader and mentor while releasing them.” Abraham said letting those we help practice their own discernment runs the risk of watching them fail, but also learning to navigate on their own. “Sometimes we try to play the role of God, but we need to step back and let God be God. Give others the courage to risk failing, but don’t let the failure keep them down,”Abraham said. “Your failure or your success is not going to determine the level of care and love given to you.”
Questions to Ask Yourself:
– How can I make helping feel more like hospitality?
– What role can I play to empower this person?
– How can I “train up” others while releasing them?