Why Empowering is Better Than Fixing It Yourself

IMG_0145In about an hour I’ll be traveling to a local library where I help with a weekly computer class. While all ministry opportunities to share the Gospel are appreciated, this may be my favorite.

Not because it’s about technology (though I am a geek) but because it allows me empower people.

In my opinion every class dealing with technology or computers should have at least two people. One who teaches the information, and another who helps anyone who has a problem [1].

My role in class is the helper (which I prefer) so early on I had to figure out which of the three major teaching philosophies I would use:

  1. I do the work for you
  2. I show you how the work is done so you can do it
  3. I watch you do the work and help if necessary

To be honest I would go with number one by nature because I enjoy helping people. However this would end up making things much worse instead of helping them [2].

While at first glance number three seems a lot better it actually isn’t because I’ve found if there is someone else nearby who can fix the problem, people won’t even try to do it themselves (even if they can).

So I embraced philosophy number two which involved:

  1. Doing it for them one time
  2. The next time they struggle with it give clear instructions
  3. Encourage them to try even if it doesn’t work properly
  4. Celebrate when they did it themselves

It’s incredibly hard watching someone struggle doing something that I could accomplish very quickly, and there’s a big part of me that wants to push them out of the way, in order to fix the problem myself

But that isn’t empowering people
It’s teaching them to rely on me for everything

Yes being super-John who can swoop in and care for any technology problem with one hand tied behind his back makes me feel awesome. But I’m just feeding a deeper problem in our culture.

People aren’t being empowered anymore, instead they look around for someone who can fix the problem for them. Many people refer to these individuals as lazy, but the truth is they aren’t the core of the problem.

The core is those individuals who constantly cared for their problems instead of challenging them to fix it themselves.

Yesterday toward the end of class I walked along the rows of computers and noticed something shocking.

Nobody needed any help.

Yes there were some questions to be answered and clarification was needed, but the students did the work themselves.

While empowering that group of students didn’t make me feel like superman, it did fill my heart with pride because they were prepared for the real world

  1. show an individual how to do something on the computer  ↩
  2. just create people who couldn’t do the worlk themselves, and relied on me for everything  ↩

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