The Marble Jar
Lots of us want to do great big things for God and for people. Yes, He does promise that He has planned out good works for us in advance that we can walk in. But what about the things that are bent on stopping us? I believe Workers suffer way more wear and tear than the average person, going through life. There are daily “MaFan”s - the Chinese word for inconvenience or hassle which happens to be a convenient two-syllable word - concern for local and expat friends; family and children issues; concerns about security and political unrest; and constant transitions, to name a few. I remember doing an exercise at a leadership training in which I had to create a spider chart of all the things in my life which occupied space in my brain constantly. Most spider charts have 5-7 spokes, but mine occupied so many that I just drew a circle, and placed dots on the edge of it; I think I counted 18 spokes. No wonder my leadership abilities were compromised. God miraculously provided people to create a safe space for me to be myself and feel all the hard feelings. Here is where the concept of the Marble Jar comes in.
As God made us to connect with others, we are all looking for places of safety and belonging with trustworthy people. How do we determine that people are trustworthy? Brené Brown, Author, Professor and Speaker on Leadership, explains it with the story of the Marble Jar. People build trust by placing marbles in our jar, and sometimes they lose marbles by breaking trust or letting us down. I love the following quote from her book, Dare to Lead, on how trust is built:
I had always assumed that trust was earned through big moments, and through really grand gestures, not the more simple things, like a friend remembering small details of your life...It turns out that trust is, in fact, earned through the smallest of moments. It is earned, not through heroic deeds or even highly visible actions, but through paying attention, listening, and gestures of genuine care and connection.
My goal in serving others is based on building this trust. We have the experience to hear and feel the things they have dealt with on the field and transitioning back to the US. We also have the desire to lighten their load and provide them with tools and resources for thriving. For me, this means listening well and giving Workers permission to share the hard and ugly things about their lives, creating a safe place for their concerns and heart issues.