A new Monday breaks in, your cares, problems, and life has hit again. It is time to go back to our jobs, and we all know what the problem is: there is no time, no energy, no motivation to finish our overdue projects. This is not atypical of our current world society today. We have a lack of self, community, and other empowerment. The life of students and professionals alike is consumed by the difficulties of the realities and problems that are presented with every break of a new week. There is always something lacking, something missing, or someone yearning for more.
Empowerment is “the authority or power given to someone to do something.” This power can come from different sources, such as self, community, or mentors. The importance of being empowered is that it changes one’s outlook on the situational and contextual problems that one faces on the everyday living. When an individual is empowered, their perspective changes from being unable to be able. This can signify a shift for people’s lives.
During one of my classes at the Elementary School that I taught at about 2 years ago, I had a student named Michael, whom I was able to empower. He was a the fifth out of seven siblings in his family and had been relegated to the “middle child treatment.” After a couple of weeks in my class, he seemed to be stuck on his English homework, repeating mantras like “I am stupid”, “I can’t do anything”, or “Who cares about English anyway.” A part of me tended to agree with his last comment, just because I knew how hard understanding English is for me. However, I could not let him think of himself that way, especially knowing that it is possible to master this difficult language. Thus, empowerment of one was most needed.
The inner motivation to become a better person is not only coming from oneself, but the environment that one is placed in. Self-empowerment is more about maintaining the empowerment from others than the grit that we can exercise for ourselves. Pushing through, finishing a task until the end even when not completely successful, and deciding to complete projects are all part of the empowerment process. They are indicators that one does not give up and decides to sustain the abilities learned from others. Encouragement is needed throughout this process, given that one does not arrive to solutions immediately.
A teacher I work with has been feeling down for the past couple of days, given that she has some trouble children in her classroom. While solutions try to come out of my mouth as rapid fire, I always need to remember that encouragement and letting people figure it out on their own is part of the process of empowerment. Encouragement and guidance are always better than providing solutions.
Some ways to encourage others in their empowerment journey is to remind them that failure is part of the process, provide reading material for their enjoyment and development, and take time for one self. Self empowerment is done through acceptance, analysis, and going beyond comprehension. Yet, the empowerment process does not end with one self.
It is the empowerment of many selves that creates a collective truth and a new way of inspiration. When the individual is empowered, he/she cannot keep it to themselves. It is the product of good things to propagate and be sustained. Community is empowered when many different people are willing to collaborate, create, and sustain the positive actions that have been fostered inside.
While self-empowerment is easier to do on a personal and one-to-one basis, the reality of empowering a whole community is harder. It takes dedication and years of consistency. In order to empower a community, commitment is needed. The development of a community needs resources, people, and a vision to succeed. When a vision has succeeded to be portrayed to others, the initiative of change and the power to do more becomes a reality.
A whole community can only be empowered if all the people inside it are.
The last bit of empowerment comes to the idea of mentoring. While this concept is a combination of both self and community empowerment, the importance is about sustainability and continual growth for the individuals of one’s community. Mentoring is helping people to stand on their own feet, while not making them codependent.
As I discovered Michael’s difficulty to understand English, I realized that his main need was of someone who mentored him through the process of self-realization, empowerment, and success at the hard task of mastering a new language. As I entered in a mentoring relationship with him, I discovered other areas that could be of help for him in the future. I counselled and gave resources, so that he could not only do well in one subject, but many others.
Mentoring is not about continually making and helping people. It’s a season to contribute to other’s lives and impact them in the long term.
Empowerment is a gift that we have all been given. When the source is Christ, a positive change will occur in all of our lives. It is through His eyes that we can see value that people have and help them be who they need to be.