Experience or engagement?
What creates positive change in the world? Well, people do. But I mean, what inspires a person to want to impact change? Is it a life changing experience a person has that makes them want to make a difference or does someone just decide to dive in and engage?
Call me an over-thinker, but I’ve been pondering which comes first (experience or engagement) for quite some time. If you ask me, the subject has a lot to do with marketing/communications strategy and mission work – a few things about which I am very passionate – but I didn’t readily arrive at this correlation.
If you’re an “activator” (like me), you might have the tendency to just jump in and engage first and then try to figure out what the heck just happened (the experience) after the fact. More “deliberative” types may be slower to shift gears or a bit more intentional about the experience upon which they’ll embark. On the other hand, all experiences are not created equally – so there can be many factors involved when it comes to what impacts change.
Further, I would be remiss if I did not leave a whole lot of room for the influence of God in this equation. But exactly how the Spirit works in us is a mystery we may never fully understand until the day we die. One thing’s for certain, it’s an awe-inspiring influence in the process of creating positive change in the world.
I’ve noticed from talking to a number of people about this… If we carefully studied the times we were most inspired to make a change we’d find it’s most often a documentable sequence of events. Or even a series of small, more subtle nudging’s that I like to call “drips”. Like the noise that comes from a leaky faucet in the dead silence of night when you can’t sleep… Drip… Drip… DRIP!…
It gets to a point where you can no longer ignore it and you just have to do something about it, right? These Spirit-led “drippings” are all too often not given the acknowledgement they deserve. The fact is, they’ve been there all the while but it’s really more a matter of whether or not we’re ready to see/hear them. At least that’s how it works for me anyway. All of a sudden, it’s like a light bulb comes on and I say, “duh!” because the direction/answer was right there all along.
This awareness and process is exactly why I became so passionately involved in leading mission trips. I was affected so deeply by my first experience, I wanted to multiply the effect so others could have the same experience – I engaged. And yet, it’s still unclear which truly came first (experience or engagement) due to the events that lead up to my trip. After the first trip, I volunteered quite a bit for the first 3.5 years, trying to be patient with not knowing what this meant for my future. And then it finally became apparent that I could converge my passions.
There didn’t have to be a cavern between my work life and my spiritual life. Experience and engagement are where my passions intersect. I get to use my gifts to create experiences and engagement opportunities that impact positive change. It took a loooong time to figure out how to honor and be true to my gifts. On one hand there’s making a living and on the other hand there’s my faith – but then when you think about it, why shouldn’t these two converge? Now it’s easy. And based upon my own journey, I have big ideas about how to help others unravel theirs.
Have you ever felt a similar quandary? Please feel free to comment. I would love to hear from you!
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Elizabeth (Eli) Mansfield
Principal Coach, Consultant and Trainer
Strengths Finder 2.0: Woo } Activator } Strategic } Ideation } Communication