Stronger Together – Collaborating in the Nonprofit Sector

Then one who looked like a man touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing before me, “I am overcome with anguish because of the vision, my lord, and I feel very weak. How can I, your servant, talk with you, my lord? My strength is gone and I can hardly breathe.”

Again the one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength.“Do not be afraid, you who are highly esteemed,” he said. “Peace! Be strong now; be strong.”

When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Speak, my lord, since you have given me strength.”

Daniel 10:16-19

We were walking down a boardwalk, me and a friend who recently got a new job at the local county tax office. She was a high school history teacher before that at a private Christian school. I asked her if she missed teaching. “Yes, I miss learning and talking about history. I miss a reason to watch a documentary. I miss my colleagues. But you know what I don’t miss? The feeling that the work is never done. There’s always one more paper to grade, one more book to read, one more lesson plan to make perfect. I truly enjoy leaving work, and actually leaving work.”

Reflecting on her experience, I can see how the cloud of need hanging over the head of a nonprofit employee also exists. There’s always one more client, one more need, one more grant proposal. Compassion fatigue and burnout run rampant in the nonprofit sector. People with good intentions drop out and those who are truly amazing at caring lose their humanity. And there’s always that one person who takes advantage, perhaps unknowingly, and it steers us away from investing emotionally again.

Nonprofit Leaders, we are not the first to feel overwhelmed by vision. Daniel received the gift of gab. God anointed him as a mouthpiece with a very large vision. And Daniel felt the weight. “God, I can’t do it, I can’t!” he says (paraphrased).

In response, God acknowledges that Daniel can’t. Daniel can’t carry the vision and say what he needs to, without outside strength beyond himself. That’s what a good vision is—reaching for something that is beyond yourself, that you can’t do alone.

God acknowledges Daniel’s weakness but doesn’t stop there. He gives Daniel strength, but he also encourages him in that he is respected in the community: that he can. In essence, God partners with Daniel. Together, they are stronger than apart. And the conclusion of the story is that Daniel can say, “yes, let’s do this thing. I can with you” (paraphrased). 

Where in your life do you feel tottering on the edge of burnout or that the responsibility of the vision is too much? Who will you look to partner with and find some strength? Is there another organization you’d like to connect with to partner so both organizations are stronger? Is there someone at work who does well what you struggle with? When you have someone (or an organization) in mind, like this post. Let’s all be stronger together.

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Pre-order Hopelessly Hopeful During Separation, a 28-day devotional for people who are separated from their spouse because of marital struggles, before September 28, 2021. A pre-order helps make the book more visible on September 28. Thanks!!

Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash

© 2021, Mollie Bond. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.molliebond.org.

The Life of a Leader

They brought the ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the Lord. After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord Almighty. Then he gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each person in the whole crowd of Israelites, both men and women. And all the people went to their homes.

2 Samuel 6:17-19

It’s time for a celebration! Since last September, I’ve been working with Ambassadors International to publish a 28-day devotional for people who are separated from their spouse due to marital strife. Good news! Hopelessly Hopeful During Separation is now available for pre-sale. The more pre-orders, the more visible the book becomes once released, the more people who might be helped while separated…your support in that effort is much appreciated. If you only have five minutes and no desire to purchase the book, you can always help in other ways. See this post to find out more. And then, come celebrate with me!

David, as the leader, created space for celebration. Both the temple and the dream of the temple were incomplete. And yet, David paused to rejoice in the middle of the project because the people reached a major milestone.

After the sacrifice, after the work, and during the celebration, David blessed the people. Then he gave them gifts and sent them home.

This is the life of a leader.

As you guide people in the project or program, take time to celebrate. Give your staff, volunteers, board, clients, whoever is with you on the journey what they will recognize as a blessing. And send them home. One of the best gifts I’ve received is free time. Not that you can give time as a gift but giving people the unexpected free moment that they can use without responsibility or obligation is quite a treat. Dare I say it?…send your employees home early. Let them work four 10-hour days and then have Fridays off during slow seasons. Our culture may cry, “Rebellious,” I know. So, if those voices are too loud, find another way to bless your people, the people around you.

To lead well:

  • Sacrifice and work hard with others
  • Pause and celebrate with others
  • Bless others

What will you celebrate with your team today? Share how you will celebrate on Facebook @HopelesslyHopefulBooks. https://www.facebook.com/HopelesslyHopefulBooks

Photo by MUNMUN SINGH on Unsplash

© 2021, Mollie Bond. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.molliebond.org.

What to do with People-Pleasing Tendencies

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”

He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Matthew 12:1-8

Let’s be real, I can be a pushover. People have good ideas, and I want to see people thrive, so I immediately jump on it…only later realizing that it was a waste of time, unnecessary, or unused. I have some people-pleasing tendencies. Do you?

Maybe the requests totter on the edge of worthy. For example, at one point, I looked at several staff-recommended platforms for donation gateways. While each person had a valid reason for needing the platform, many of those needs were temporary, or didn’t serve the nonprofit on a whole. Meanwhile, the needs of the platform included additional costs and presented security risks. That’s in addition of the time it would take to apply, learn the system, integrate it into regular routines and other systems, etc. Here’s one of my few successes: The benefits didn’t outweigh the costs, and I passed on setting up all the platforms. It disappointed staff but upheld the mission of the organization.

Sometimes what people want us to do for them and what is necessary can be very different things. Here’s another stark example. Have you had a client ask for something that was outside your mission? I was once visiting a nonprofit as a board member, and a client came to me and asked for a saxophone. He wanted to make music and earn a living from the music. He had one, but it was run over when he had a motorcycle accident. While that’s a worthy vision, the nonprofit’s mission was to help people who were experiencing homelessness. The request fell outside the nonprofit’s mission. (And it was not appropriate to ask a board member for a personal gift, but that’s another story for another day.)

There is a time and place for being gracious and doing what you can for those seemingly blazing requests that come through your inbox. There is a time and place for obeying the rules (i.e., filing your 990), and there are others that seem like really good ideas and those good ideas become rules that hinder your nonprofit from fulfilling its mission (i.e., saxophone). What distinguishes a good idea from a great idea?

The text above shows us that Jesus doesn’t make all man-made rules necessary. Sometimes what seems like a good idea (not picking wheat with a motivation of getting ahead) outweighs the mission (eating). Jesus gives us freedom from obligation to other people. He gives us freedom to obey laws and the Lord, but perhaps not the rules, requirements, and requests others place on us.

In your work today with your favorite nonprofit, consider what you are doing to please another person, and what you are doing that fulfills the mission and pleases the Lord. Are you eating heads of grain or going hungry? If you find yourself doing things because someone else said so (besides your boss or leader), do these three things:

  1. Stop. Pray.
  2. Consider the benefits to the organization. Will it produce fruit in the long-term?
  3. Build your case on data and numbers. How many more people will be served? How much will it cost (time/hours, money, training, etc.)?

When you’ve done all three, you’ll have a much better sense on what is a head of grain to pursue, and what is just a “sabbath rule” that people are asking you to follow.

Share your stories on Facebook @HopelesslyHopefulBooks. https://www.facebook.com/HopelesslyHopefulBooks

Pre-order Hopelessly Hopeful During Separation, a 28-day devotional for people who are separated from their spouse because of marital struggles, before September 28, 2021. A pre-order helps make the book more visible on September 28. Thanks!!

Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash

© 2021, Mollie Bond. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.molliebond.org.

Quaking Soul Review

Happy Fourth of July! This holiday makes me think of vacations and reading good books. This week we take a break from nonprofit work to celebrate the launch of a book I was privileged to read as an advance reader. I love fiction, and especially fiction that is a page-turner. To be fair, I usually don’t go for adventure fantasy, but I will follow the Hidden Mystics series because the first one was SO good!

Quaking Soul gripped me from page 1. I wanted to know what would happen next, so I finished the book in a week. Plan a vacation so you have time to read this book (or plan on getting no sleep); You won’t want to put this book down!

Jennifer M. Zeigler’s writing style keeps the action going while not forgetting the storyline. I’m not a big fan of action scenes, but Jennifer knows how to make it work! The many unexpected and clever twists and turns in the plotline keep me from getting bored. Predictable plotlines drive me crazy. Even worse are characters who do things out of character—you expect them to behave in accordance with their personalities. In Quaking Soul, the unpredictability of actions in addition to the predictability of her characters is a careful balance and Jennifer does it with ease. Her talents shine is this novel, and I can’t wait to read the next book from her. What a treat.

Thank you, Jennifer, for delighting me and your many other readers with such a great novel!

I have received a copy of this book for a fair and honest review. (And then, I bought a half-dozen copies to give away!)

© 2021, Mollie Bond. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.molliebond.org.

Note: I did not receive any compensation for this blog post. I recommend books, products, or services that I have enjoyed using and believe you will benefit from as well. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”