Wise, humble, and smart "how-to" questions gave birth to a helpful network of television, video, and Internet called "Do It Yourself" (DIY). DIY is built on the ethic that "an ordinary person can learn to do more than he or she thought was possible." Smart people "do it themselves" to save money, to have a joyous sense of accomplishment, to meet teaching and learning needs, or simply to solve a problem.
Self-sufficiency works best when tempered by a willingness to accept help. One survey reported that the greatest mistake corporate employees make is the failure to ask questions. Query is a simple way of saying, "I need your help."
Asking questions was an important part of Jesus' teaching style. In a manner similar to the Socratic method, He used questions to answer people's questions. In a conversation with a law expert who wanted to test Him, Jesus asked, "How do you read the law?" The lawyer answered well. His problem was not in knowing but rather in doing. Was he able or willing to do it himself?
The parable of the Good Samaritan that follows the short question exercise in Luke 10:25-37 shows the importance of doing well what one knows well and is well capable of doing. It also teaches us the importance of accepting help. What could have happened to the assaulted traveler if he had refused the stranger's compassionate action?
Sometimes pride, religion, affiliation, and commitment to our culture, tradition, and values prevent us from entering a partnership of giving or accepting the help that is needed to reach God-given dreams and goals. At that point, regardless of how dear the project is to us, we should revisit our DIY philosophy.
A Nazarene felt a burden from God for the evangelism of a remote community in his country. Although he felt he had the resources and could accomplish this outreach alone, he went to the district superintendent to ask for his blessing on this project. However, concerns about the evangelist's current family challenges caused the district superintendent to advise him to postpone this idea.
In response, the evangelist suggested that the two of them visit the area together. Seeing the spiritual needs there, combined with the evangelist's passion to bring the gospel, changed the district superintendent's heart and mind.
A key factor was meeting a prominent leader in the community who was eagerly searching for answers in non-Christian religious literature. When he learned of their faith in Christ and the purpose of their visit, he replied, "If you had arrived two weeks ago, I would be reading your book, not this."
The district superintendent not only blessed the project but also personally engaged with others in an unprecedented evangelistic effort that eventually gave birth to one of the fastest growing Nazarene districts in that country. The evangelist remains grateful today for the courage to ask a simple question, and the district superintendent remains grateful for being asked to help. In their partnership, neither had to work alone.
Being able to say "I did it myself" sometimes feels great. However, never forget that God-given dreams can come true when we partner with others who also need to grow, learn, and be fulfilled. Yes, we can do it ourselves, but do we have to do it alone?
Eugénio R. Duarte is a general superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene.
July/August 2010 Holiness Today.