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Care in Epic

by TJ Poon on January 9, 2018

One of the things that I’ve heard newcomers notice and remark on about the community in Epic is the level of care we have toward one another. With stated leadership values such as, “emotional maturity and holistic transformation” as well as “servant leadership,” it’s clear that we value the whole person and want there to be an expression of care that takes into account what is best for others as they grow and serve the Lord.

I came into the role of People & Culture (then LD) director wanting mostly to be able to care well for Epic staff. Over the past few years, my view of “care” has been challenged as I have found the experiences of care vary greatly from person to person. In the way of an example, with my marriage to Jason, for me to feel properly “cared for,” I’d like him to daily affirm me, spend time with me and give me the occasional gift. Jason assumes that since I stay married to him and keep talking to him, then I care for him. Experiencing these different needs and expectations as I tried to care for people in my role was a rude awakening for me, someone who has to consistently be reminded that perfection has never been an option! (I’m trying to embrace that but, to be honest, I still find it rather annoying…)

I remember a few years ago, the P&C team was in the process of placing someone and it came down between two locations. There were a number of complicating factors including difficult relationships, the levels of need on the individual staff teams, and the desires of the person being placed. Between conversations with former and potential leaders, the staff member and various field leaders, the process probably took around 25-30 hours of work. I felt confident in how we were leaning after such a thorough process, so I was at first baffled when we communicated to the person and they shared that they didn’t feel cared for.

Our team had spent hours gathering the necessary information, having lengthy conversations and praying fervently for God’s direction. We had deeply, seriously and thoroughly considered the preferences but ultimately came to a different conclusion about the best course of action. I’ll be the first to admit that no one on the P&C team has a direct line to God, so we could have botched the decision, but I believed we had expressed care for the person in how we went about it.

I’m sure some of us have experienced processes that seemed impersonal or disconnected from us as people, so I’m not suggesting that a thorough process always equals care. However, one of the ways that the P&C team tries to care for people is by being as thorough and person-oriented in our processes as we can be. When we fall short, we need (and want!) to hear about it.

Here’s where it gets rather complicated. In Epic, we won’t care for people perfectly yet we want to all grow together in our ability to love and express care for those around us. At the same time, people will not always experience our care in ways that are completely satisfying to them. On both sides of the equation, grace and maturity are needed. When we try our best to care for others and it is not received, we depend on the Lord to keep us open and non-defensive when that person graciously gives us feedback. When we wonder if we’ve been cared for when a decision doesn’t go our way, we depend on the Lord to give us the courage to ask questions and give feedback, and to help us examine ourselves and our responses.

At some point, I had a little kitschy phrase that C.A.R.E. could stand for but the holidays happened and I lost it. It’s probably better this way, as I’m not sure that we need more acronyms in the Cru/Epic world, first of all, and secondly because the point of this is less to provide a simple answer and more that we might come together as a community that is committed to one another, to think about these issues. I have experienced care in Epic in many ways – both through the level of grace I have received when I’ve (frequently) blown it and in how people have held me accountable to upholding our shared values.

As you reflect on this, what specific instances come to mind? If you think of a time when you felt care from your team, what communicated that to you? If you think of a time where when you experienced a lack of care, where were the misses? Finally, can you think of a time when you were trying to care for someone but they didn’t experience it? How have you learned and grown though that?

I’m in a season of reflecting on these questions and pursuing what God has for me to learn as I continue to seek growth. As always, I’m grateful to serve alongside each of you as we keep growing together!

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