Do You Know What You Want?

What do you want me to do for you?

Mark 10:51

What’s the question? You know, the question. The one that Jesus is asking. The one you know the answer to but can’t quite formulate the words.

Jesus asks a lot of questions. He asks rhetorical questions, but also ones that he expected an answer to as well. For example:

  • “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” John 6:5
  • “Woman, why do you involve me?” John 2:4
  • “What do you want me to do for you?” Mark 10:51
  • “Do you see anything?” Mark 8:23

And these are just a few of the questions he asks.

Challenged by the Bible and a few people in my life, I’ve spent a few years trying to determine exactly what I want. How would I answer Jesus if he were to ask, “What do you want?”

I can’t answer.

Perhaps you can relate to my reasoning. First, I find that it is easier to say, “Whatever you want” rather than truly do the work to discover my desires. Plus, I remember that verse that says the heart is deceptive (Jeremiah 17:9). Still, Psalm 37:4 teaches us that if we set our desires on Him, He will give us what we want.

So, back to the question. What do you want? How would you answer?

Here are some responses to Jesus’ questions:

  • “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” John 6:5
    • “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish” John 6:9
      • This is the feeding of the multitudes. It teaches me that God doesn’t waste imperfect small offerings.
  • “Woman, why do you involve me?” John 2:4
    • “Do whatever he tells you.” John 2:5
      • This is the story of water turned into wine. It teaches me that if I am willing to do what he asks, God delivers the best.
  • “What do you want me to do for you?” Mark 10:51
    • “Rabbi, I want to see.” Mark 10:51
      • This is the story of blind Bartimaeus. Healing is available to those who call out to Jesus.
  • “Do you see anything?” Mark 8:23
    • “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” Mark 8:24
      • This is the story of Jesus helping a man to see by putting mud on his eyes. Sometimes a vision is blurry until Jesus deems you ready.

Jesus is waiting to hear your answer. Listen for Jesus to ask the question: What do you want?

I’ll tell you what I want; I want to share about my upcoming book! Ambassador International is printing 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 Ilkka Kärkkäinen on Unsplash

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

Donor Fatigue and The Comparison Trap

When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”

Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”

John 21:21-23

The speaker asked in a training session, “When was the last time a donor said, ‘I can’t donate because I’m tired of giving? Oftentimes, when we hear of donor fatigue, it’s other nonprofits providing an excuse. To avoid joining this groupthink, don’t compare your donors to other nonprofit donors…get to know them for who they are and invest in them in the way they would appreciate.”

It was a shift for me to think about donor fatigue and the comparison trap. Donor fatigue is defined by the Oxford Languages as “a lessening of public willingness to respond generously to charitable appeals, resulting from the frequency of such appeals.” As one always learning more about the nonprofit sector, I devour a few blogs and articles a week, listen to podcasts and webinars, and talk to other nonprofit leaders. And yet, I know that I do those things more than the simple notion of talking to the people in the nonprofit I serve—our clients, staff, and donors. Have I assumed that our donors are fatigued about hearing successes or engaging with our stories of need, or have I compared donors who love my nonprofit to the donors of nonprofits around me?

Jesus knew about the comparison trap. He knew that people would base their experience of Himself on what others had experienced—not what was going on between that person and Himself. After He rose, never to die again, Jesus gave Peter a sneak peek into the future. And those around Peter and Jesus immediately started guessing and comparing. Jesus squashed that thinking quickly by saying, “What I’ve shared is between the two of us, and there’s no need to compare your situation to that of Peter. Keep focused on what I’ve asked you to do, and don’t worry about those around you.

Can you think of a recent situation where you fell into the comparison trap? Was it about donor fatigue or a program success or even the next steps you should take? Listen to Jesus. What is He saying?

If you have remembered a situation where you were caught in a comparison trap and escaped, like this post and then share your encouragement 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 Kseniia Samoylenko on Unsplash

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

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.

Share this post on Facebook and tag @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.

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.”

How To Start Succession Planning

But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.

John 16:7

It was a momentous occasion. In a meeting about fundraising, one of the board members said, “It’s no longer your vision, it’s our vision.” When a leader is able to communicate the vision in such a way that others grasp it and start to call it their own, the first step toward succession planning has taken place.

Many nonprofits struggle with Founder’s Syndrome. That is when the founder is such a charismatic figure in the nonprofit that no one can imagine the nonprofit without that individual. In other words, the nonprofit is the person. While that means the nonprofit can thrive for quite some time, it also means that when that person leaves or passes away, so does the nonprofit. The good work stops, the people flounder looking for another resource, and there is no legacy for future generations.

Jesus knew about Founder’s Syndrome. He knew that succession planning and support systems are important. He also knew that it would take many people (not just one) to continue the work. He gave us the Holy Spirit, which lives in every believer, to ensure that the good work can continue.

If you are part of a nonprofit, consider what would happen if you stepped away tomorrow. Who would step up and do what you are doing? Do they know how to be the most successful? They may not do it exactly the same, but would they have the tools to be successful?

Challenge: Take time today to identify one or two people who would be great in your place. What is the first thing you need to do to empower them to take over when the time is right? Like this post when you have that name and next step in mind.

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!!

Find me on Facebook @HopelesslyHopefulBooks. https://www.facebook.com/HopelesslyHopefulBooks

Photo by Mantas Hesthaven on Unsplash

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

What to do When Someone Leaves

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”

But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’

So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”

The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.

John 5:8-13

When staff leave, it’s not easy. You lose talent, institutional knowledge, and, most likely, sleep.

A leader once told me that when her staff left, it wasn’t what she wanted. However, it presented her with the opportunity to be “on the front lines” again. She got to interact with clients, linking arms with her staff in the day-to-day tasks, and it warmed her heart. It had been decades since she took the administrative role and had been one step removed from the direct client service. Being so far from the action—the reason why most gets involved in a nonprofit—is necessary and can also be hard.

Jesus was in the action. And sometimes he was instructing those who were in the action, like an administrator. He did what He could for people. But don’t miss three lessons.

1) Jesus did what He could for the person in front of Him. Jesus helped the person become whole who wanted it. He also helped the Pharisees learn and see. For those who were open, Jesus was available. Whether you directly serve people or if you serve the people indirectly, serve the person in front of you. Serve who you see.

2) The second lesson in this passage is that the Jewish leaders questioned the person and missed the miracle. They had their standard and didn’t pause long enough to recognize the person in front of them—one that was unable to walk was now walking. Don’t miss the miracle.

3) Which leads to the third lesson: Look for the wonder. The leaders had a moment to stop and take in the wonder. Recognizing the grace for the day in themselves and in this other could have restored faith. It could have been a mile-marker day. But instead, it became a day when they couldn’t walk a mile in another’s shoes. Being open to the wonder of God will wow you. Look for the wonder.

Serve who is in front of you.

Don’t miss the miracle.

Look for the wonder.

And get more sleep should your staff move on to other successes. You’ll have another miracle, another wonder-full moment if you serve who is before you—whether that is a client, board member, donor, staff, or volunteer.

Which lesson will you be watching for today? Perhaps it is God, perhaps it is another person. Be on the lookout, and then share your story 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 Gemma Evans on Unsplash

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

When You Feel Guilty About Leaving

When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

Mark 1:19-20

My clients—women who are feeling stuck in the nonprofit sector—often feel guilty over leaving their role, whether that is volunteer, staff, or board member. Most likely, the attraction to the nonprofit sector began because they could fulfill a need and found a place that suited their passion and style. And, of course, they connected with the nonprofit’s pursuit to make the world a better place. But what happens when those needs are no longer a challenge? What happens when she totters on the edge of burnout? What happens when the woman knows it’s time to move on, but can’t because the thought of that exposed need is uncomfortable?

Jesus knew the needs. He knew when people needed him, and he was the only one who could do what would make them whole. He also knew when to leave.

In fact, the people he called to be part of his team left the job. Not with a month’s notice. Quite literally, they left the job unfinished, when the clock on the shift was running, with the need exposed. Even worse, it was the family business! Yet, they left.

Jesus says elsewhere that the poor will be on the earth for as long as the earth exists (Matthew 26:11). The work of those in the nonprofit sector will never be done. The need for one more person, one more passion, one more service to make this world better for one more person will exist.

And sometimes, you have to leave before the celebration from a job well done. If you know that your time at a particular nonprofit is drawing to a close, consider taking the following steps:

  1. Be honest with yourself, and those around you in what is coming next in your life.
  2. Wrap up as many projects and tasks that makes sense, or at least to a place where the next step launches a new phase. Do the things only you can do. Settle yourself in knowing the work won’t be done when you are done.
  3. Find your finish line through prayer. There will be things undone but being able to say you are done is powerful.
  4. Pray for the person who will be the next to fill the gap. Pray for their growth, and empowerment to bring their own strengths and flavor to the role. Ask the God of Peace to provide for that person…and for you!

Once Jesus calls, you must follow; Even with undone tasks and projects.

Prayer: Jesus, I can appreciate feeling needed at a nonprofit. But I know you have great plans for me, and for the people in the nonprofit I serve. May I be attentive to your call when it is time for me to move on.

Do you have a finish line in your sights? Like this post so I can pray with you, or share your story 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 Mitchell Ng Liang an on Unsplash

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

Hopelessly Hopeful During Separation

You know that feeling when you have finished a big project? That satisfaction, pride, and enjoyment? I’m feeling that this week and wanted to share it with you. This week, I’m sidestepping the usual devotional for exciting news you won’t want to miss.

It is with great joy that I am able to announce that Hopelessly Hopeful During Separation will be released on September 28, 2021! This short book is a 28-day devotional designed not to help a person determine if divorce or reconciliation is the path forward, but simply a hand to hold when no hope is found.

Would you consider helping me in one of four ways? The first should only take you a minute:

  1. Share my Facebook post, pinned to the top of this page.
  2. Pre-order your copy (or two!). Please pre-order a copy or sharing with friends who would benefit before September 28. The more pre-orders, the more visible the book becomes on Amazon when it is released.
  3. Save the date for September 28. There will be a launch party, with guest speakers and celebration!
  4. Save your spot on the launch team. This group of people will be invited to the virtual launch party on September 28. Before then, I’ll send you ways to help share about the book. For each action you take and let me know about, the more points you earn. The more points you earn, the more times you are entered into a raffle for prizes after the party! Want in? Email me at mollie@nonprofitsonamission.com and I’ll get you started on the first Points for Prizes activity.

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!!

Find the latest on Facebook @HopelesslyHopefulBooks. https://www.facebook.com/HopelesslyHopefulBooks

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