There were lots of bad habits that I developed while I was in college. A lot of these could probably be blamed on my fraternity experience. Surrounded by 200 guys who didn’t share all of my values caused me to drift from my worldview quickly.
However, my time in the fraternity house was also probably the most influential time in developing me as a leader.
I distinctly remember a moment as a young "pledge," when I was complaining about how some of the older members were acting. At the time, I thought that action alone - complaining - was all I needed to do to claim the moral high ground and (hopefully) create change.
So what does an old fraternity story have to do with how we See the City? Stick with me, and you'll see what I learned.
Seeing the need does come first. In that fraternity, I recognized a problem - enough to talk about it with others.
Of course, if you didn't realize the need of our city before, you no longer have an excuse! We've spent the last two months helping you see different parts of our city, and we hope the you were able to see some of the real need in our city.
(If you're still at this stage - needing to See the City and its need - start with this blog post.)
But my problem that day in the fraternity wasn't that I didn't see the need - I didn't know how to act. Like me, you might not know how to respond to an injustice you see or an unfortunate situation that someone is in.
I am a “ready, fire, aim” kind of guy. So I can often go straight to a solution before I really understand the problem. Slowing down and asking questions has helped me gain a better understanding. Oftentimes someone's stated need or felt need is not their real need. Books like [Toxic Charity](https://smile.amazon.com/Toxic-Charity-Churches-Charities-Reverse/dp/0062076213/ref=sr11?ie=UTF8&qid=1469470599&sr=8-1&keywords=toxic+charity) and [When Helping Hurts](https://smile.amazon.com/When-Helping-Hurts-Alleviate-Yourself/dp/0802409989/ref=sr11?ie=UTF8&qid=1469470635&sr=8-1&keywords=When+Helping+Hurts) have really helped me better understand the real problems.
Our hope is that you start developing a framework for understanding the real needs of the community around you. Assess the need.
And then we hope your work doesn’t stop there, but that we have inspired you to be part of the solution to transform our city.
The defining moment in my fraternity story was when our pledge trainer came to me and said, “Shut up. Get initiated. And then do something about it.” I didn’t love his response. I wanted him to be the one who managed the change that I hoped for. But his point was clear: I am the one best suited to make a change that I want to see in the world.
He shared a quote from Teddy Roosevelt that has stuck with me since I was 18:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
I don’t know how God is calling you to get involved in our city or in your communiity. But I don’t think sitting on the sidelines is what he has in mind for how we are to love our city.
I would encourage you not to make it too complicated. “Simply start, and start simply.” We have lots of on-ramps to help you serve in your city (starting at watermark.org/go), and we hope that you will continue to investigate certain areas so that you can continue to have an even deeper impact. Just email our team at firstname.lastname@example.org if you can't find what you need - we want to get you involved!
(My friend JP has spoken a little more about “see the need, assess the need, meet the need” and some of the ways that you can get in the game, too!)
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