Category Archives: generosity

Breaking Out of the Silos (EXERCISE)


Purpose

This activity helps participants to challenge silo mentalities by forcing them to work collaboratively to complete a task.  The task is a painting task, in which each team (or individual) will only receive some of the colors they need to finish.  In order to meet all the requirements of the task, they will have to negotiate for resources from other teams or individuals.

 

Setup

  • Give each team (or individual, depending upon the size of your group) several colors of paint (poster paints work well).
  • Teams or individuals should get different color combinations so that no one group or individual has everything that he or she needs.  Recommended color combinations are:
    • Team #1 – Black, white, red and yellow
    • Team #2 – Black, white, blue and yellow
    • Team #3 – Black, white, green and yellow
    • Team #4 – Black, white, red and blue
  • Give each team or individual enough paintbrushes for each team member to participate in the painting, a large sheet of paper (a flipchart works well for groups), something to mix their paint on (a piece of cardboard or a paper plate) and several small cups with water in them for rinsing the paint brush.

Timing

Explaining the Exercise: 5 minutes.

Activity: 20 minutes

Debrief: 15 minutes.

 

Procedure

  • Tell participants that they are going to work in their teams to produce a work of art with the supplies that you have given them.
  • To be judged successful, each team or individual must paint a picture of Noah’s Ark complete with the rainbow that was God’s promise never to flood the earth again. (You can choose another theme if you like; the only essential element is the rainbow, because it uses all the color combinations that will force the teams to break out of their silos.)
  • The rainbow must be at least one-third of the picture, and it must contain all the colors of a rainbow (which can be remembered with the acronym ROYGBIV – Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet).
  • The picture must fill the paper.
  • They will have 20 minutes to complete their paintings.
  • (After they begin, observe how they solve the problem of not having all the right color combinations for the rainbow.  You may want to bring out your observations during the debrief.  When the 20 minutes are up, have the groups answer the debrief questions below.  Then, discuss their insights as a large group.  Emphasize the need to share limited resources so that everyone could succeed.  This is not a competitive activity.)

Debrief

  • How did you resolve the problem of not having enough colors to make all the colors of the rainbow?
  • How willing were the other teams to share their paint with you?
  • How willing were you to share your paint with them?
  • Why was this difficult at times?
  • How is this like sharing limited resources in the work environment?
  • What could you do to make it more likely that individuals and groups would share their resources for the greater good of the organization?
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Filed under Abundance, generosity, overcoming obstacles, performance, Problem Solving, Productivity, Resources, Scarcity, team

Her First Birthday Party


Each summer, I serve as the Bible teacher for a summer camp in Texas.  The camp’s mission is to create positive memories for abused and neglected children, ages 7-11.

Two years ago, we had a little girl who was at camp for her first time. Every time she would see me, she would remind me that it was her birthday during the week, and she asked me over and over not to forget. I promised  her each time that I would be sure to remember and that we would celebrate it together.

Confession: I knew something that she didn’t.  At the camp, we always throw a birthday party for ALL the kids on Thursday night.  Many of them have never celebrated their birthdays before, so we get a church to donate enough toys to fill up a large shoebox for each child, make a giant cake, decorate the camp’s mess hall with streamers, confetti and party favors and make sure it’s an event that they will all remember!

When the night of the party arrived, I was excited for her and hoped that she would be pleased with the celebration. Amazingly, none of the older kids had let on about the party, even though they had been to camp several times before. I did my part distracting the kids with some other meaningful activities while the party decorations were completed, and then I got them lined up at the door of the mess hall, ready to go in for their big surprise.

The door opened up, loud cheers and clapping emerged, and the kids bounded inside, high-fiving all the adults and teens that had lined up to greet them!  Once past the gauntlet of celebrating big people, the kids found tables and chairs set for the biggest birthday party they had ever seen!  Party hats, juice pouches, colorful plates, napkins and plastic ware, noise makers and balloons!  Everyone excitedly took their seats and began to explore their table settings while the adults brought them cake and ice cream and sang “Happy Birthday!” to them.

When I went to see the girl after the initial surprise, she caught me off guard. With tears streaming down her cheeks, she said, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, Pastor Mike! You remembered!” Over and over.  She was quite undone by the grace of it all.

I was a little embarrassed that she thought I was the reason for the party when I had really done nothing except distract the kids while the preparations were being made, but I didn’t want to ruin her moment by saying anything awkward. To her, this was a promise fulfilled and an opportunity to celebrate her birthday for the very first time.

I often think about this moment.  It both breaks my heart (for a little girl who had never had the simple gesture of a birthday party), and it humbles me.  There were dozens of people more deserving of the credit for her birthday celebration, but God allowed me to be the one that received her appreciation.  What I’ve realized is that God often allows us to get the credit for good works that we had very little to do with.  If we are honest, He does 99% of the work most of the time.  We have little to offer, and we are often selfish about offering what we do have.

I think He uses these moments to remind us of the joy we receive from joining Him in His work.  They are an incentive for us to trust Him more with our time, our talents and our treasures, and they soften our hearts toward those in need.

So, in retrospect, I’m not sure if the birthday party that night was more for the little girl or more for me.  I suspect God made the appointment for us both.

———–

If you would like to know more about Royal Family Kids’ Camps (which are held in many places around the world), you can visit their website at http://www.rfkc.org.

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Filed under Abundance, agape love, christianity, generosity, grace, love, Service, Serving Others, unconditional love

Full of Riches But No Life In It


In Israel, there are two major bodies of water: the Sea of Galilee (a.k.a. the Kinneret) and the Dead Sea (though both are really lakes).  Although they are in the same country and connected by a common river (the Jordan), the two couldn’t be more different.  The Sea of Galilee is fed by the Jordan River and teaming with life.  It contains 27 species of fish, some found nowhere else in the world.  Its sweet waters serve as the heart of the water supply system for Israel.  It’s shores are lush with vegetation.

The Dead Sea, on the other hand, didn’t get its name for nothing.  There are no fish, no fishermen, no vegetation on its shores…  It’s twice as wide and almost four times as long as the Sea of Galilee, but the Dead Sea is toxic and bitter.  So much so that there is no life in it or around it.

Why?  The Sea of Galilee receives nutrients and water from the Jordan River.  It then empties into the Jordan River, which begins again at the lake’s south end.  The Jordan then takes the nutrients throughout the Jordan River Basin, snaking 200 miles before it reaches the Dead Sea.  But that’s where it all ends.  Nutrients from the Dead Sea stay in the Dead Sea.  It doesn’t share any of its wealth with the valley below it.  Seven million gallons of water evaporate from the lake daily in the hot desert environment, and the water that’s left is so mineral-rich that it can’t support life.  Scientists estimate that it has a mineral concentration between 26% and 35%.

The two bodies of water serve as a good metaphor for a spiritual principle.  When you share your gifts and resources freely, you receive much more in return.  Whatever you jealously clutch and keep for yourself stagnates and eventually chokes the life out of you.

“Sea of Galilee people” have an abundance mentality.  They know that if they give freely, there will always be more coming their way.  They never worry that the supply of blessings will dry up.  “Dead Sea people” have a scarcity mentality.  They fear that sharing their riches will make them poorer.  What they don’t understand is that the only reason they were given the gifts and resources in the first place was so that they would pass them along.

If you want to keep it, share it.

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Filed under Abundance, delegation, generosity, growth, helping, ownership, sacrifice, Scarcity, Service, Serving Others, Sowing and reaping, Spiritual Growth