God is in the “possibility awakening” business!

[It is] the Spirit of God that made me [which has stirred me up], and the breath of the Almighty that gives me life [which inspires me].

Job 33:4

There is as lot to like about TED talks. Fact is, being offered the opportunity to give one remains a huge Bucket List item for me.

So late Wednesday evening, walking Max, I was not surprised that something I heard on “The TED Radio Hour” made me take note of the phrasing. “My job,” conductor Benjamin Zander said, “is to awaken possibility in other people.” (Zander is the musical director of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra). He said he knows if it’s happening by looking into their eyes.

“If their eyes are not shining I get to ask another question,” Zander continued: “I get to ask, ‘Who am I being…?'”

– Zander in action

Yes! That’s it! Awakening possibility in others is exactly why I am so glad I still have the opportunity to teach. It was my job when I worked with mentally handicapped children in Atlanta; it defined my inspiration as a classroom teacher with autistic and severely emotional disturbed students in Pensacola and then Plant City; it is my focus every time I lead a retreat or speak at a conference; and it remains the most compelling reason I have for teaching Sunday school and facilitating small groups here at WFPC today.

Sometimes I fail…

But if I look closely, and their eyes are not shining, then I need to ask that other question – “Then who am I being?” And if I am honest, much of the time I do not awaken possibility so much as maybe unconsciously disturb possibility in its sleep. Other times it’s as if I merely succeed in annoying latent potential to the extent that it retreats deeper under the covers. Then, and certainly not often enough, sometimes the beautiful spirit of light and passion that God plants in everyone actually does poke its way through to the surface and I rejoice.

– Rebekah has that shiny eyes thing going on!

This is what teaching, facilitating, conducting, even writing is supposed to be. More invitation than instruction; more lighting a fire than lecturing; more relationship than recitation. To be honest it is not easy to get there over a Zoom call, and I am worried that I seldom do enough to coax the right kind of life to the surface; and when I fail it is not the fault of anyone but me.

Leading may be a lot of work but it is also privilege and responsibility. When I rush through an afternoon, cook and clean up, and fumble to get the tech up and running… yet fail to take the time to pray before opening the meeting (praying for wisdom, for guidance, and for each participant), then I have failed to awaken possibility in myself before we even begin.

I did not intend to make this entry a confessional but it looks like that’s where we landed! Fair enough. Like Rebekah in the pulpit I do too tend to preach to myself.

So today, ask God to awaken possibility in yourself, then work to awaken it in the people you love, and work with, and meet. Maybe the light that shines in your eyes will be just the invitation they did not realize they were waiting for!

In love, and because of love – DEREK

Bible faith message The Life-Charged Life

derekmaul View All →

Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.

Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.

Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.

4 Comments Leave a comment

    • I appreciate all the positive comments around some of my recent blog posts.
      It’s been crazy busy and I haven’t had the opportunity to respond to them all but it does mean a lot.
      Continued prayers for all of you over in the UK.

      Peace and blessings – Derek

      Like

  1. Wow! You know, lately that has been something I’ve been thinking about. All my life I’ve been waiting for the “big thing” to happen, or someone else to help me get my life started. However, at the end of the day it is not so much the big things I do as the little everyday things that bring God glory and build up others. If I have learned anything during this pandemic it has been to take every day one moment at a time and be productive with what is in my hand and what I can handle at that moment. I might have big dreams but I will never fulfill the call of God on my life by wishing. One thing I heard long ago is most people need a backbone not a wishbone. I am finally understanding what that truly means. From the time I wake up to the time my head lays down on the pillow at night I need to be asking myself is, “what can I do in this moment to help those in need with the gifts and talents I have been given and how can I point it back to Jesus?” This was really good Derek! Thanks for that reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

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