Responsively Yours: What Is Your “Why”?

Responsively Yours: What Is Your “Why”?
Harriett Jane Olson

You may have read an article, seen a video or listened to a TED talk about how powerful it is when people (and organizations) are clear about why they are doing something—not just focusing on the particular task at hand. This is sometimes referred to as the “power of why.”

I had a bit of an ah-ha myself several years ago during a get-acquainted activity with women leaders from around the world at a United Methodist Women event. We were asked to go around the circle and share something like: how is your current work connected to your lifelong commitments? I’m not even sure of the exact question now, but I remember thinking, that’s a hard one for me—my journey has three unrelated phases. However, as it came to my turn to speak, I realized there was such a connection in my history.

For many years, I have been working to grow spiritually and to build networks and resources that help others to do the same. For me, growing spiritually also means the practice of reading the Bible, prayer and reflection with other seekers (saints, sinners, writers and artists past and present) and the deliberate effort to live out my faith, which takes me to both service and advocacy for justice.

From my early experiences of church and small groups, through participating as an adult in Appalachia Service Project with young people in my own church and the home owners with whom we worked, to practicing environmental law and getting cleanup plans approved and funded so properties could be sold, to offering leadership in the creation of publications to support the spiritual growth of individuals and small groups, to my current work with United Methodist Women—it’s all connected.

Our movement of women has been a vehicle for my own growth, from the Prayer Calendar to building community to tutoring a child to public rally and calls for systemic change. I hear from members all over the country that this is true for you as well. You know that the daily Prayer Calendar readings are directly connected to our social justice priorities and that empowering women is not just a strategy but a calling to help us realize and reflect the divine image in which we are created (Genesis 1:27). It is out of our faith that we are moved to advocate and care for all children, especially for vulnerable children of color who are criminalized in schools and separated from their families at our borders and through detention and deportation. We do it because we must.

Leaders across the country and around the world, along with United Methodist Women staff, are investing themselves in thinking about our movement and our organization in new ways. How might we gather as women today to hear God’s call anew as the Holy Spirit makes plain the witness of Scripture to us? How do we need to pool our resources to fund the work? How do we need to organize for service and for action for justice? We do this out of our “why”—engaging ourselves in the work of spiritual growth and faith-filled living, as we say yes to God’s call.

Harriett Jane Olson
General Secretary
United Methodist Women

Posted or updated: 7/9/2018 12:00:00 AM