Breakthrough: Matu Taylor
Posted by: DVULI | July 22, 2022
by Kimberlee Mitchell, Staff Writer
Wired to thrive in synergy with others, Matu Taylor (Los Angeles 2019) found herself serving in ministry at Faith Central Bible Church where some of her co-workers preferred a more independent work environment. "LA talks a big game about all the work we do, but our collaboration game, from my viewpoint, is exaggerated," divulges Matu. "DVULI talks about trusting the process, but some people don't appreciate or even want the process–yet they still want what the process produces." Matu knew something was off and tried to be part of the solution but felt stuck. "I didn't have the tools to try to fix it, nor did I have the words to adeptly articulate my frustrations prior to coming into this process with DVULI," Matu recalls. "There's a propensity to skip past the strategic collaboration and jump to 'hey, look at this great thing that we did together.'" The frustrating isolation led her to some dysfunctional work relationships, which dimmed her light, muffled her voice, and ultimately took a toll on her health.
Right around that time, Matu was offered the role of DVULI city coordinator. During the training, she recalls an aha moment at the Scenario Planning workshop when the core value of interdependence was revisited. While playing The Search for the Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine ™, her cohort worked together to play a historic perfect game for the first and only time in DVULI's 24-year history. "We realized that when we looked out for each other, we all won," joyfully recalls Matu. "We did it literally in the room and then figuratively throughout the game. I was like, this is it! This is the world I want to live in. I want this in real life!" Matu finally had a term that helped her articulate her heart's desire for ministry work best practice—interdependence. "This process of collaboration is the richness we get when people are not selfish with their resources, not withholding, and not lying. I started thinking, how do we bottle this? How do I bring this into my context?"
To start, Matu recognized that forcing her way through closed doors was futile. "I had been under the assumption that interdependence had to be with my office coworkers. I had to rethink my approach," she explains. "I discovered I needed to work with what's working." She practiced interdependence with those who were willing—youth and their parents. "I'm now also open to considering unlikely suspects or people I've never thought of before. I put everything on the table and ask God to show me the way. Before DVULI, I wasn't doing it that way." This shift allowed her to achieve breakthrough, although not with some of her co-workers whom she presumed were natural collaboration partners.
Instead, Matu formed a youth leadership council of 18 to 24-year-old interns with whom she now collaborates and empowers. Thanks to a generous donation, she compensates them with a stipend while they build a resume, gain work experience, and learn about diversity and inclusion. "I show them there are benefits to working and serving in leadership," shares Matu. "Bringing people together with different ways of being can be messy, but I have believed for a very long time that it produces the most beautiful thing. When they get that win, their whole confidence, their whole everything changes." Matu has since observed her co-workers replicating her youth empowerment practices, and she rejoices in that success. When her youth development tactics and collaborative mindset were demonstrated at a citywide youth camp event, youth worker peers from across LA personally requested her collaboration and direction on how to get "the same traction and fruit with youth in their part of the city." Matu relishes these advancements as evidence of breakthrough.
Like with interdependence, the core value of balance shed light on another area that required attention. "I could directly draw the correlation between the ministry dysfunction and what was happening with me personally and physically," explains Matu, who lost 45 pounds since graduating from DVULI. "It was killing me." She realized that lack of balance meant poor modeling on her part. "That woke me up," explains Matu, who has learned to say no, set time limits, and establish healthy boundaries.
Matu's learning experience fostered an awakening that provided her with the tools to address the toll that working in a challenging system had taken on her professionally and personally. Today, her breakthrough continues to equip her calling as an urban youth worker. This has also allowed her to rediscover her neglected passion for writing and motivational speaking. "I am so much more excited about the possibilities," says Matu, eyes gleaming. "God has been affirming without me having to do anything."