My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
Interviewing for an upper-level executive position usually requires some interviews with board members. For one position, I remember having one interview where the person talked about the many collaborations the organization had, and how it makes them stronger. In the next interview in the next hour, the board member talked about how competitive the fundraising landscape is and that the organization was competing against all nonprofits, even those that were not in the same part of the sector with the same passion. I remember asking myself, who has the most accurate viewpoint?
While most tenured staff in the nonprofit sector say collaboration is best, we also don’t say out loud how we know it’s time-consuming, difficult when missions collide, and not always successful. So, perhaps we compete, and it’s better to stay singularly focused on the mission of the organization?
In John 17, Jesus prays for us. One of the themes of this prayer that sticks with me is unity. Jesus knew it would be most important in his last day in the flesh to ask God for unity. While we may compete for the same grant award or the same legislature’s time, it will take all nonprofits to make the world a better place. A common phrase, “a rising tide lifts all boats” comes to mind. Both board members had accurate viewpoints, but collaboration (if possible) is best.
Here’s a bonus lesson from this particular passage: In The Maxwell Leadership Bible, John Maxwell notes that this prayer is important because it is a prayer. In other words, Jesus took his last 12 hours and prayed. Maxwell explains he didn’t minister, he didn’t have any hail Mary plans, he didn’t pout. If the most important thing the Son of God can do in those moments is praying, then it must be an important thing to do.
So, as you do your work at your nonprofit, how many collaborations do you see in just one day? Where do you find unity? And, as a bonus, will you let prayer lead your day and close your day?
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