You may have heard the old adage, “I know a little about a lot and a lot about a little”, or something to that effect. Even this simple saying can be confusing. What is actually being communicated? Is it better to know a lot about a little? Or, is it better to know a little about a lot? There are those who believe the more you know about one thing, the less you know about everything else. Which on some level, that seems to imply there’s a limit to our capacity to gain knowledge. We can obviously gain knowledge or retain new information, but to what limit and at what cost? As I study one topic with a laser focus am I inadvertently limiting my knowledge in other areas? Then, of course, we must remember that we each have different capacities for gaining and retaining knowledge, we each have an individual uniqueness within our own giftedness and we each have a personal perspective in the way our knowledge and giftedness are expressed to the world around us.
Often, a microcosm of this can be seen in the workplace environment. It’s quite common that someone has a specialty within their work, or maybe better said, they have a particular area of focus or expertise within their work. Regardless, we can all relate to the idea that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to know everything about what everyone within your organization is doing, has done or the ways and means by which they accomplish their work. Most of us may think, my plate is pretty full with my own responsibilities and I don’t have the time or energy or the need to know and/or understand what everyone else is doing, unless it directly impacts my personal responsibilities.
Working for a smallish nonprofit as a missionary in the Dominican Republic is very much the same. There are multiple worthy projects each competing for time, attention, focus and resources. There are also coworkers with their own personalities, giftedness, intrinsic values and areas of focus. All the work we do is worthy to be known about, understood and supported.
At times though, there can be a self-imposed pressure to feel you need to know everything about everything, all the time, every day. Which of course is a completely unrealistic expectation, we would tell others this truth, but often struggle to accept and apply this truth in our own lives. Not because of malice or ill intent, but from a desire to serve others well and be a help as much as possible.
We recently had a mission team in from the states, the team had a very specific focus to spend time touring and ministering in multiple prisons here in the Dominican Republic. You see, we minister in 15 prisons and the team wanted to see first hand the work being done and better understand the ways they could partner with us. Some of my responsibilities fall within our prison ministry, so there’s a natural tendency to feel you need to know everything about everything. But the real challenge is knowing what needs to be known and being comfortable enough to acknowledge what isn’t known yet. I certainly do not view myself as an expert within our prison ministry, but quite possibly someone else may consider me an expert. Why? Because what you or I may know could possibly be much more than what someone else knows, by default then resulting in them viewing us as the expert. Often it’s simply a matter of perspective.
We spent an incredible week with these guys touring and ministering in six prisons. We heard incredible testimonies from both the guys who traveled here and the inmates who are experiencing a transformed life through a new relationship with Jesus. Some of the guys from the team had been before, but for many it was their first time in a Dominican prison. So much information was shared, great questions were asked, everyone learned something – but none of us know everything. There’s a lot to know about everything Project Mañana does, but for those few days we focused in on one particular aspect of what we do.
I can’t help but think about my personal faith journey and the countless others I’ve heard recount their own faith journeys. Although every journey is unique, there are certain aspects of the journey that seem to remain constant. The aspects that are constant are; 1. the only way to heaven is by faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, 2. that the journey is a process of growth that occurs throughout our lifetime and 3. that the growth comes by the Holy Spirit, prayer and the Word of God.
At certain points in my life I wasn’t sure what to do because I didn’t feel I knew enough or felt that I needed to know it all in order to step into something or start something. Well, I can tell you this for sure, the two most important jobs I have are husband and father. The longer I do each of them the less I know. The longer I do each of them the less successful I feel. The longer I do each of them the more I need to learn. I feel I can hear some of the same thoughts through Paul’s words in the Bible – always striving, but never achieving. Paul pressed towards the mark, but also understood he would not reach it this side of heaven.
Through our Prison Project we are able to share Christ with a people group that is often forgotten about. But truly the biggest difference between some of the men and women incarcerated in the D.R. and possibly many of us is that they simply got caught. Some of the men and women we minister to will find new found spiritual freedom in Christ, but may not experience physical freedom from prison for many years. God has granted us incredible access to the prisons here, where through our Institute for Authentic Manhood and Authentic Womanhood, we share the message of Christ through these courses that we teach every week.
Let’s press towards the mark, but not get tripped up in the race over what we don’t know. Satan wants us to focus on what we don’t know rather than what we already know to be true. It’s much more difficult to finish the race while laying on the ground than it is while standing up. As we work to restore families, we don’t want to leave anyone behind.