Seth Godin points out that no-one ever bothers to wash a rental car. Why? Because there's no sense of ownership. And a sense of ownership is required in order for someone to go the extra mile.
In Alongsiders, we are serious about fostering a sense of ownership amongst those in the movement. It's not just lip-service. We build it in from the ground up.
Here is one of the key ways we try to do that:
Alongsider mentors choose their own little brother or little sister.
Rather than matching up mentors with kids that have been previously selected by some outside group or organization, the Alongsider mentors themselves prayerfully discern which child they will personally walk alongside. They select a vulnerable child from nearby their own house, in the same community. For some, this is a several months-long process of discernment.
And the result? Alongsider mentors are more likely to take the relationship seriously, have a sense of ownership of that relationship, and go the extra mile. We have some mentors who have been faithfully walking alongside their little brother or sister for more than a decade.
Cambodians have a proverb - it takes a spider to repair its own web. In other words, it is going to take insiders to transform a society.
In order to be motivated to work for this kind of deep transformation, those insiders need to own the work. They need to lead the charge. They need to have a sense that they are responsible for the change that needs to take place. They need to deeply commit. And that only happens when they are given ownership.
But here's the catch. Empowering young people, giving them ownership, means having less control. And this is the core issue we have to face in our movements and organizations. Sure, we want to empower and give ownership. BUT....
...are we willing to give up control?
No-one ever washes a rental car. No-one pours out their heart and soul for something they don't truly have a sense of ownership or responsibility for.
So which path will you choose?
Control or transformation?