We are coming to the end of this series of posts on theological reflection. In this post, will explore the last stage of Theological Reflection: Practicing. In the second stage, we develop a vision. Here in the third stage, we seek help from the community to apply it to our lives. In doing this, we ask three questions: First, what are the strengths of the individual and community in embodying this vision? Second, what are the limitations of the individual and community in embodying this vision? Third, How do we match the gifts to limitations so that the vision might be embodied? In this time, we will explore these questions in more detail.
What are the strengths of the individual and community in embodying this vision?
When we state the strengths, it helps to make the vision real. These strengths may be from one person or the community. In acknowledging these strengths, we come to contact with the blessing that God has upon us. It is important to see that we are not alone. When one makes personal vision real, one can feel that their strengths are the only things one can rely on. Yet this is the easiest way to fail. Only when we engage a community, the vision can be fully realized. Even when you have a personal struggle, a friend who has been there before can give you perspective to help you overcome that struggle. That is at the core of that vision. Even when you don’t have someone who has a similar experience, if they may remind you of that vision so that you can remember the vision. You then are more likely to take corrective actions to come in line with that vision.
What are the limitations of the individual and community in embodying this vision?
The martyred Oscar Romero, the archbishop of El Salvador, was attributed to say, “We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.” In a culture that prizes multitasking, efficiency and unbounded nature of human potential, we may maximize ourselves to the point of burning out that potential. To state what we cannot do, we may feel as if we admit failure. Yet Romero's life reminds us in stating the limitations, we begin to describe the freedom we are gifted with and create our little part for the spiritual vision.
How do we match the gifts to limitations so that the vision might be embodied?
I’m influenced by Mlihaly Csikszentmihalyi and his work Optimal Experience; Nancy Eiesland, in The Disabled God and Simon Sinek, Start with Why. What we are doing here is articulating the optimal experience where the needs of the individual are paired with the resources of the community; and the needs of the community are paired with the resources of the individual. In terms of Eiesland, this creates a community of interdependence. In the book, Start with Why, Sinek argues that we bring our “why”, our “how”, and our “what” in line to creates something that attracts people or to give people a reason to buy in. The “why” are our core beliefs. The “how” is the method for our beliefs. The “what” is the product that demonstrates the cause for the existence. To explain this further, let me create a metaphor from genetic biology. The “why” of an organization or person is the DNA. The “how” is the RNA. The “what” is the production of proteins. DNA has the instructions on how to make proteins. RNA gets the information and passes on the message. Proteins get made in the cells.
In Practicing Stage to help us explore how we explore how we and the community help each other as partners to make our vision real: First, what are the strengths of the individual and community in embodying this vision? Second, what are the limitations of the individual and community in embodying this vision? Third, how do we match the gifts to limitations so that the vision might be embodied?
Comment thread starter for this post: Reflect and post a comment on how your faith community has helped you to make your vision real.