Professor John McKnight: Community Building
Diversity of Gifts
The diversity is really significant. I find this every time we're asking people about their gifts. You often maybe hear 40 gifts before there's a repeat. So if you wanted to do something in a local community and you started out with gifts, do you see how much powerful material there is?
If everybody said "What I can do is listen." Then we wouldn't go very far, would we? We need one listener, but because everybody says something different, once you get away from deficits or assigned responsibilities like jobs that don't recognize people's gifts, then you have this great diversity that means... It's like a toolbox, right? Everyone has a hammer and saw and a... a square and a plane, right. So you have much more possibility to get things done if you're gift focused because they're so diverse. And we've seen that over and over again.
So when we got these stories and we looked at how did you do these things? The answer is almost everybody did something different, but they were putting the pieces together, to make it happen.
Gifts are free, number one. Two, everyone, everyone, everyone, everyone has gifts. No matter what label they may have been given, they have gifts.
And the third thing, which is what we're moving toward, a gift isn't a gift until it's given. Did you ever think about that? It's one thing to have... know them. But they aren't really gifts until they're given. And so community organizing on the full half of the glass, right, is about creating ways for people to give their gifts who are not now giving them. And understanding why don't people who have gifts give them? And, incidentally, I've hardly ever found anybody who if they think they have a gift isn't willing to give it. But they don't.
So this is the organizers problem, why not? And community organizing is the approach to setting out the circle within which giving becomes expected, joyful, hopeful, useful.