September 21, 2014

By Fred Koenig

“Let’s leave this one to the professionals.”
    
It’s a call everyone makes at some point. Sometimes it is for easy things, and you go with the pros because even though you may not have much money to spare, you have even less time to spare. So you hire someone to clean your house, mow your lawn, change the oil in your car, paint the trim around your windows … any number of things. You know you could do it, but hiring someone else frees you up to do something you find more valuable. That might be working more at your regular job (if you make more than the person you hired), or it might be taking time to enjoy yourself or tend to family matters. 
    
Then there are the things we don’t feel confident doing. Maybe we could replace the starter on the car – it’s just a couple of bolts and a wire, right? It can’t be that hard to replace a faucet.     
We could try to troubleshoot our own computer problems. But we go to the shop or call the plumber because we lack confidence and think we might be getting in over our heads, starting a job we can’t finish. 
    
Sometimes we rely on the professional just to keep us on track. I’ve been to physical therapy on several different occasions. I pretty quickly learn the exercises I could be doing on my own, the same ones that I did last time I was in physical therapy, but I don’t keep up with them without that accountability. 
    
Our culture pushes us toward relying on professionals. Professional services advertise around themes to discourage you from trying to do things on your own. 
    
At the time of this writing, Hurricane Florence had just made landfall on the East Coast. I had read a news story about a resident in an area of evacuation who had decided to stay. His wife and children went to her mother’s house in a safe area. He instead stockpiled a few weeks worth of water and nonperishable food. He stayed behind so he would be in place to help others immediately following the storm. He had a large four-wheel drive truck and a trailer and planned to go to work on debris removal. His house was a two-story on high ground, and he had boarded up his windows. He even had a boat. There wasn’t anything particularly dangerous about his course of action. Yet, the comments on the story were filled with derision about how foolish he was being by doing this on his own, and he was sure to be a casualty in need of rescue. He needed to rely on the professionals to clear the brush from his street. 
    
Our culture, as well as marketing, may push us toward leaving things to the professionals, but if you’re familiar with the Missouri Conference action plan (pages 23-26), you’ll see the United Methodist leadership in Missouri is pulling in the other direction. Roger Ross is inviting people to pray the dangerous prayer, “Use me.” Bishop Farr is imploring everyone to have the courage to engage in conversations with people they don’t know. Mid-State District Layleader Rob Gordon makes the point by telling the story of Jesus sending out the 70.
    
Every leader at the Action Plan Kickoff at some point tried to convey the “action” part of the action plan is meant for everyone – people just need to find their role. It’s a sentiment expressed thoroughly through the “Freed-2-Lead” theme of Annual Conference last summer, and it continues to carry the Conference forward. I am thankful to have a front-row seat to it all, and continue to be impressed with how United Methodist churches across Missouri are taking action in unique ways to make a difference in the lives of people in their communities.