Releasing Unrealized Potential

by | Apr 12, 2024 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

“So, how can someone make a difference?”

This is a question I often get when having a conversation about the work NicaWorks! does in Nicaragua or the power of hope to create change. Addressing the underlying issue of hopelessness that fuels poverty makes sense to a lot of people, but how to actually do that sometimes leaves people guessing. It starts with focusing on what is already there.

When we think about creating change, we typically focus on what we, the outsider, has to offer. This makes a lot of sense. In fact, in many other articles and my book, Hope Realized, I talk about determining what you, “bring to the table”. We each have unique experiences, gifts, and resources that can bring spiritual and practical hope to others. However, this is only part of the puzzle. The other part, and really the starting point, is asking what the person or community, you are trying impact already has at the table. The truth is creating change is much more about releasing the God-given potential that already exists than creating something new. Doing this means discovering and uncovering this unrealized potential.

What does this look like? At NicaWorks!, we do this by focusing on community-led change. This approach starts with understanding the strengths and assets a community already has by building relationships with its members. This also allows you to find out what positive changes the community is committed to make happen, which is the second step. While it does take time to build relationships, earn trust, and understand a community, or even a specific person, the payoffs are more than worth it.

First, you get much greater buy-in from the people you are serving because they know you see them as a person not just a project. Put yourself in their shoes. Would you be more or less willing to partner with someone who you believed saw you are created on purpose and for a purpose by a God who loves you? That might seem like a silly question, but that level of trust and belief is only built with time and understanding. It is in developing a relationship with someone that you put yourself in a position to impact their life.

Second, you work with the existing potential instead of starting from zero. As an outsider, it is easy to look at an impoverished community or person has having little to nothing offer. However, nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is they are full of potential, just like you and me, but have not had what they need to maximize it. Releasing the existing, unrealized potential exponentially increases the possibility of real, long-term change. I believe you will be surprised by how much a community or person already has to offer if you take time to see it.

This was the case for me when I first started working in Nicaragua, and continues to be the case in Nicaragua and everywhere else I have the opportunity to work. The more I have had the chance to know and understand a community or person, the more I have seen their God-given potential. From the Frutivera Sweet Corn project, to the NicaBike Shop, to volunteering with local schools and recovery ministries, and more, I have seen the hope that lives inside of people. This is a big reason why my book is titled, “Hope Realized”.

People are full of hope, sometimes they are just in need of a catalyst for it to be realized. This is the opportunity we have. To bring real opportunities and point people toward a reframed identity. In doing so, we release the God-given potential already inside of them, changing lives and communities forever.

Do you want to make a difference? Be the catalyst someone needs to discover the potential they already have.

James Belt

Click here for more resources to help you bring hope to others!


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