Wednesday, June 17, 2015

It's A Dynamic Balance

"Give a man a fish and feed him for a day,  Teach him to fish and feed him for a lifetime."

This quote seems to say that it is not as beneficial to Provide as it is to Teach.  I actually believe it’s a Dynamic Balance.  Providing for others what they cannot presently provide for themselves is an act of love (#Fast Offerings, #DisasterRelief, #Handicapped, #Children).  Teaching them incrementally how to provide for themselves and others is also an act of love.  Because we are all changing and growing beings (#Dynamic), there are times in our lives when we need to be provided for more than we need teaching and vice versa.

When we provide for our own children, our hope is that they will, upon tasting the goodness of the “fish,” be motivated to help themselves as much as they are able instead of taking advantage of us or disregarding the gift all together.  When I have provided “fish” to my children, my hope is that they will both be motivated to learn how to fish themselves and to have compassion on others. 

As most of those who read my blog know, I use the word Cause to describe parents, teachers, mentors, coaches, trainers, providers, exemplars, evaluators, etc.  Even though a Cause can be male or female, I use the male pronoun for simplicity's sake.

In the last blog post, I wrote about the voices outside of our head as contrasted with the voice inside our head.  The voices that influence us whether inside or outside our head are our Cause.  If two Causes conflict in regards to our goal achievement journey, we have to make a decision who we are going to listen to.  Causes play the roles of Examples and Evaluators.  But they also play the roles of Provider and Teacher.  A single person can play all of these roles but it is also common for a team of people to work together as a Cause united in purpose for a Child or group of Children (#ItTakesAVillage).

I use the word Child to represent someone who has a goal and is on a journey to obtain it.  A Child is a beneficiary, student, candidate, admirer, trainee, disciple, follower, apprentice, intern.  She is someone with a desire, a purpose, a mission.  Even though a Child can be male or female, I use the female pronoun for simplicity's sake.  So when I use the pronouns we and us in this blog post, I'm referring to our role as Child in our goal achievement journey (Matt 18:4, Mosiah 3:19).

Providers support us in the things we can’t presently provide for ourselves, both physically and spiritually.   They balance this Provider role with their role as Teacher. 

Teachers have the responsibility to train us by giving us challenges and questions we need to answer ourselves.  Instead of catching all the fish for us, they provide us with a fishing pole, teach us how to handle it, and show us the best spots to catch fish.  They give us opportunities and challenges to participate as Providers. 

An example of this is a story about a young man named Nephi found in the Book of Mormon.  God gave him the task (question, opportunity, challenge) to build a ship (1 Nephi 17).  He and his family needed to travel across the ocean to another land that was safer for them than Jerusalem was at that time.  The benefits of this promised land were described as plentiful, sustainable, and choice.  Being a very Balanced Cause, God did not make a ship magically appear.  He commanded Nephi to build it and said he would show him how.  Nephi had a question:  Where can I find the ore to make the tools I will need to build the ship?  God provided the instructions on how to build the ship and where to get the ore.  Nephi provided the labor and workmanship (his brothers ended up helping too).  With this team effort the ship was built and Nephi’s family was successfully transported across the ocean to the promised land.  Goal achieved.

Contrast that with the parting of the Red Sea (Exodus 14).  If there were time and materials available, Moses and the Children of Israel could have built some boats to get across the water.  But the Egyptians (#Pharaoh) were hard upon their heels and I’m not sure they had the resources available in that traditionally dryer region of the earth.  So God provided:  he parted the sea.  He’s so dynamically balanced!  He knows when to step in (Provider) and when not to (Teacher).  Can’t help loving and totally respecting him!

Some Causes provide too much for us and don’t give us enough challenges. Other Causes provide too little and give us too many challenges too soon.  Finding the balance between these two extremes characterizes a Northern Provider-Teacher Cause (Mosiah 4:27).  Causes are imbalanced if they lean more extremely to one side or the other.

If we have been reliant on a Northwest Provider-Teacher, we will most likely be motivated to progress in our Northeast to obtain our goals.   This is because a Northwest Provider-Teacher does it all himself.  He pays for everything, buys everything.  He doesn’t realize the value of allowing us to contribute to obtaining the goal.  He answers all the questions himself.  He doesn’t ask questions of those he is responsible for.  He doesn’t provide enough challenges or opportunities for progress.  He believes asking them to sacrifice anything is doing them a wrong.  Trusting others to contribute to achieving the goal is very difficult for him.  He’d rather do it all himself instead of taking the risk of relying on someone else.  He can’t train incrementally because of his impatience with imperfection or the unbelief that people have the ability, desire, and need to change and grow.  If we are reliant on a Northwest Provider-Teacher, our motivation to achieve our goals is stifled.
If we have been reliant on a Northeast Provider-Teacher, we have most likely been forced to progress in our Northwest to obtain our goals.  A Northeast Provider-Teacher leaves those he is responsible for to fend for themselves too soon. 
They are overwhelmed with having to provide so much for themselves and others that they usually end up relying on imbalanced processes like cheating or stealing to get what they want (#OliverTwist).  A Northeast Provider-Teacher pays for as little as possible.  He doesn’t realize the value of his own contribution to their goals.  He leaves them to answer all the questions themselves.  He doesn’t share with them some of the answers he has found through his own experiences, preparing them to be able to answer their own.  He is insecure, unsure, and doubts what he has already found to be true.  He leaves those for whom he is responsible to face too many challenges than they can handle at a time.  He forces them to progress too quickly.  He trusts the judgment of others more than he trusts his own.  He’d rather they do it themselves because he fears he can’t do it right or doesn’t want to be blamed for messing things up.  He doesn’t know how to balance providing for and challenging his children.  If we are reliant on a Northeast Provider-Teacher, our motivation to achieve our goals is driven by fear. 

These are extreme descriptions (see the figure below).  Most Causes are on a continuum between the extreme imbalance and the extreme balance.  They are usually a mix between the NW and the NE.  For example, A Cause may provide plenty of money for his children (physical needs) but not enough time and affection (spiritual needs).  And to complicate matters, a Cause’s balance changes in different situations as well as over time.

Northern Provider-Teacher
When our Cause acts as a Teacher and challenges us in dynamic balance, we have the opportunity to learn and grow.  We become increasingly stronger Providers over time.  When our Cause acts as a Provider for us in dynamic balance we are taken care of and we learn about what love and compassion are.  Since we need both it makes sense that we choose dynamic Northern Causes who are able to play both these roles for us. 

Think about your specific goal (I’m thinking about mine).  Through your accomplishment of it do you hope to become a stronger Provider in some specific way or do you need to heal from some major (or minor) catastrophe?  Does your goal focus on becoming someone who can love people deeper or does it focus on needing to understand how deeply you are loved?  It's not that we should always focus on one more than the other.  It is about your present need.  It is about the missing ingredient  preventing you from progressing on your journey in balance.  Depending on what you’re wanting and needing, your journey to obtain your New Year’s Goal will most likely be different from someone else’s.

Who are your Causes in regards to your goal?  Evaluate how these Causes have contributed to your present level of success in regards to this goal.  Or ascertain if you are in need of a more Northern Cause.  If so and there doesn’t seem to be many options for you, I challenge you to get to know our General Cause—God—a little better who is exactly dynamically balanced in regards to you (Luke 11:9, Matt 11:28).