In my life when I could sleep through the night, run out the door without much planning and was able to finish a thought without having to stop to make a snack, I worked at Community Christian Church in the Chicagoland area. Besides being a church authentic in it’s pursuit of Jesus and Community, it had some great leadership sayings.
One of these sayings was ‘Lead with a Yes, ask how later on.’
So often we have preconceived notions of how things are ‘supposed’ to work out. What steps to take to get to a desired place or who we are aiming to help. Naturally, when we have these preconceived ideas we factor our decisions around them. Because of that we can lead with a no, missing out on what could be great things, God things!
Learning to lead with a Yes in Foster Care doesn’t mean saying ‘Yes’ to the child who wants to eat the entire packet of red lolly snakes, or ‘Yes’ to the teenager who wants to head out at 10pm on Friday night. Those are questions that centre around healthy boundaries and what is safe. They are situations that you are likely to know the outcome to and a reasonable parent will do what is best and safest for the child.
I am talking about the kind of ‘Yes’ that leads to innovative and creative ways to reach our mission. At Ark we want to see every child in a family that is thriving, persevering and raising kids who are equipped for adulthood.
Wherever you are on your foster care journey, if you are a pastor, ministy leader or foster parent, learning to lead with a Yes creates the opportunity for God to move.
1 - Learning to have a ‘Yes’ reflex see’s the potential in someone or something. Giving permission for your Church to focus on foster parenting doesn’t mean knowing how to do it (that’s why ARK is here to help), but it does say loudly that the Church, God’s people, see the potential in the most vulnerable kids in our community. Saying ‘Yes’ to a child joining your family doesn’t mean you will get it all right or that you know what you are doing, but it say’s to that child, ‘You matter!’
2 - Saying ‘Yes’ doesn’t mean leaving someone (or something) to sink or swim. We don’t say ‘Yes’ to a 16 year old wanting to learn to drive and then sit back and watch as they struggle with the clutch, the road rules and balancing the pressure on the accelerator! We say yes and then sit down beside them. Helping the young driver move from being unconsciously imcompetent, (meaning they have no idea that they have no idea!) to consciously incompetent, (they realise the clutch and accelerator are not their friend), to a point of learning to move a car effortlessly through traffic happens best through a process. I do, you watch. I do, you help. I help, you do. I watch, you do. When we say ‘Yes’ to a child, a ministry or to a friend wanting to know more about the reality of foster care, we need to stay with them in this process until they are ready to stand beside someone else. Not only are we making sure new carers, new ministries and whole families ‘swim’ we are ensuring that they can teach someone else how to as well.
3 - Saying ‘Yes’ to a dream bigger than you can imagine, or one you don’t know how you will make happen means that you aren’t the Hero. Foster Care is a humbling experience and once you have stepped in, you learn pretty quickly that you can not do this on your own. Leaning on the strength, example and grace of God has to become a part of your everyday survival so that you can maintain the brokenness that you literally hold in your arms. But it doesn’t stop with that first Yes. Continuing to say ‘Yes’ to community, ‘Yes’ to guidance, ‘Yes’ to others' ideas, ‘Yes’ to approaching things in a new way, ‘Yes’ to someone else having control. The ‘Yes’ opens the door for God to move. For His Love to Shine.
Living with a ‘Yes’ attitude has seen our family welcome new members, begin new ministries, fail at others, say goodbye to little people we have loved and so much more. There has been a cost but we are no longer living under the assumption that we can make things happen. We know that it is the pursuit of God’s call on our lives that brings Glory to Him. When we open our hearts and homes (and churches) to other children, suggestions or plans, we get to be a part of something bigger and often better than we could have imagined.
Louise Pekan - ARK W.A. State Manager