The Pride of Life

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

1 John 2:15-17

Crickets. That’s what everyone heard after the latest idea from the founder. While the board had been—well—on board with previous ideas, this one seemed to fall a bit outside the nonprofit’s mission. And yet, there was that one time previously when it seemed odd and then it worked. So the unanimous votes of yeas became the chorus of approval to move forward.

The idea…it worked. The nonprofit grew, became more influential in the community, and helped thousands. And the founder not only proved faith to move mountains but became a desired speaker and decisionmaker for significant movements in the community. You could even say the founder’s name was synonymous with the nonprofit. So, what’s the problem?

“The pride of life,” John writes, is something to avoid. Pride can be sneaky. It seems like such a great thing to have pride in one’s life. Especially for a founder, to produce their own name recognition and tie all they do back to the nonprofit. That can be a good thing. The issue, as we see in 1 John, is when the pride of life becomes the focal point rather than the will of God and the pride of life is illuminating through the nonprofit.

It’s a phenomenon called Founder’s Syndrome when the leader seems to be taking the organization to the next level but gets wrapped up in the love of the organization. They care passionately, and don’t see that there’s a cliff in front of them because they are experiencing such great impact. They are unwilling to let others lead or have an opinion. And soon external audiences start to see the organization as the leader and vice versa.

What becomes dangerous about this situation is when it’s time for the founder to move on, and everyone knows the organization will die soon thereafter. Founder’s syndrome may creep in slowly, when someone isn’t confident to raise a hand, when the founder has to the only one to communicate internally or externally, when there’s no decision made without checking in with the founder. It’s their vision, after all. And…we rationalize.

In 1 John, we find that the love of the world and all it brings can be the downfall. Keeping God’s will in the center—the original vision of the organization—helps to keep the organization healthy, and its founder(s) out of loving the attention, the organization, or themselves more than the organization. When a founder who can’t take a vacation because projects will crumble, the protection of a reputation can break up an organization which wanted to do the will of God in the first place.

If you’re organization does not have founder’s syndrome, that’s great! I know of several great organizations that continued after the founder(s) retired, even within the last 10 years. Most of the time, it’s because they had a succession plan in place that allowed for the growth of future leaders and a laser-focus on the mission. Continue to avoid the pride of life, stay the course, and keep the focus on the will of God.

What organizations do you know that successfully navigated around founder’s syndrome? Share it on Facebook @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!!

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

P.S. Save the date on September 28, 2021 at 7 pm PT for a zoom book launch party! More details to come in the upcoming weeks.

How to Get Excited About Your Work Again

The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

Matthew 8:25-27

Do you remember the first time you were driving and said something like, “That kid’s not old enough to drive”? On the other hand, do you remember what it was like to be that first-time driver (who might have heard many people honking at them)? Those moments later in life show growth, maturity, and probably just plain agitation at a younger generation. What fascinates me is what takes us from the first moment of excitement that becomes the drag of duty. What makes the inspirational become drudgery? What causes us to forsake our first love?

I have a theory that we tend have circular movement. There are seasons, rotations, and “sweet spots” we come back to again and again.

All good things–all things that matter–are circular. For example, I found a notebook from when I was about 12 years old. I hadn’t looked at it forever, so I forgot what it was. It ended up being a summary or a lesson of Bible passages that I was reading daily. I used to (and still) read the Bible all the way through, sometimes in a year, one passage at a time. For me, it’s the habit that counts.

And that habit has come back around in a full circle.

In addition, what I found so fascinating about the notebook is that it’s exactly what I do in these blogs. Read a passage, reflect on it, and then write about it. Writing, or journaling, helps to evaluate experience, and John Maxwell states that evaluated experience is more valuable than just experience. Writing also helps keep the lesson more ingrained and therefore more lived out than if I just heard or read it and did nothing about it (see James 1:23).

A page from a notebook of Bible lessons from circa 1995

The older I get, and the more I reflect, the more I see myself living out what I was as a child. Yet, I’m not always thrilled about finding a pen and writing what I’m learning. It’s not always what gets me going in the morning. What I forget are the excitement and inspiration. I’ve been hardened by the years of expectations, of “been there, done that,” and of judging others who are just beginning.

Do you remember that initial spark of something grand? It’s like when the disciples saw Jesus calm the waves. They were like, “Did you see that? This guy is legit!” And they didn’t even see the big miracles yet—the ones that would blow their minds. I suppose the disciples had their moments of “ho-hums,” especially after Jesus was no longer on the planet. That’s why there’s so much encouragement in the New Testament; Because initial sparks can die down and keeping the flame alive takes work. Sometimes a wintery season of stillness is okay if the spring blooming is on the way.

If you are feeling like you’re in the drag of duty and going through the motions, try some of these possibilities:

  • Write down what sparked it all. What did you feel then, and what have you learned since then?
  • Review what you had journaled during those first days of excitement or talk to someone who had been core to the beginning.
  • Give yourself grace if you are in a season of growth or pausing. What is that thing that you are looking forward to, and how can you take one step toward that today?
  • Let Jesus know how you are feeling and ask for a bit of direction.
  • Remember the days when you couldn’t wait to get out of bed to tackle the day. You’ll remember how Jesus had just calmed the sea, but it took your breath away.
  • Discover the habits that came from those beginning moments, how you’ve come to depend on Jesus for the minor miracles while you seek out the major miracles.

If you are a nonprofit leader, or volunteer, or a community member (I think that covers us all!), there will be moments of boredom. But, with Jesus, you will find the motivation to keep going just like in the early days.

What do you do to get excited about work again? Share it on Facebook @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!!

Photos by Mollie Bond

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

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.

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!!

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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!!

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

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.

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!!

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

Are You Failing as You Finish?

…but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me.

“Come now; let us leave.”

John 14:31b

I was at a conference where a woman shared her struggles about succession planning, but she wasn’t struggling with finding the next leader. She knew her executive director was making plans for her to take over, and she didn’t want to take the lead. It’s not the first time I’ve heard this expressed from a female nonprofit leader; That while they love the organization, they don’t want to lead the organization. Oftentimes, the desire to be on the front lines instead of administration, or younger children at home, or even just evaluating the hours a top leader puts in is enough to keep a woman from wanting to be the leader.

In this particular case, she felt that if she were to leave, that the organization would be let down…that there was no one who could fill her shoes and enter leadership within the next year or two. Not only would the executive director be leaving, but also the one who had been in training for 11 years. That’s no small decision, knowing the organization might flounder.

Yet, she said something profound that has rattled in my mind. While thinking about what would be left undone, and what would be difficult for the organization to achieve without her institutional knowledge, she felt a deep sense of failure on her part for leaving. The guilt of knowing that it would be difficult for new leaders to learn the lessons she learned. And then, she realized that “it’s not failure. It’s a finish line.” What profound words.

How many times do we continue to push, just one more task, campaign, year…only to realize there’s another task, campaign, year? How many times do we claim that this job was the calling, and that without it we aren’t doing what God “wants?” How many times do we determine that our vocation is our calling, when in fact, it may be part of the calling, but not the ultimate vision God has for us?

In her release of the guilt and responsibility, this woman physically looked happier, brighter, and more loving. She found what Jesus may illuminated in John 14:31.

Jesus sets the example to do what our Father says to do. But he doesn’t stick around to make sure that everything gets done the way we want it, or that the person coming after doesn’t experience failure. Rather, Jesus makes a bold statement that he does “exactly what my Father has commanded” (emphasis mine), and then, he leaves.

Quite literally, the disciples hear the lessons of how to love well and prepare better, and then they physically leave the room. However, metaphorically, I see how this could be an indication that after we have done what God said to do, we leave. There’s no permanency. When the task is done, leave. It’s not failure, it’s a finish line.

Don’t get stuck in the prep work or the guilt of moving on. When it’s clear it’s time, finish, even when it feels like failure. The leaving is a way to follow God’s command.

In what spaces are you potentially hindering the mission because you feel guilty for stopping? Where are you stuck in leaving? If the struggle is real for you, give a like on Facebook so I can pray for you. @HopelesslyHopefulBooks.

Attend a free one-hour webinar, Organize Your Organization on this Thursday, June 3 at 5:30 pm Pacific Time. This webinar is to help you set up your organization, and also a few tips on how to organize your own work. Register here.

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

The Best in, the Best Out

Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

Matthew 15:10-11

I remember the first time I heard that saying, “garbage in, garbage out.” A youth pastor shared it decades ago. And it applies to my job today: I work in systems and databases. If there’s bad data, you won’t be able to make a good decision.

Jesus says it’s not what you put in, but what comes out that counts. And yet, he also says to wash the inside and the outside of the cup. If we are to be pure and holy and blameless in God’s sight, perhaps we need to pay attention to the front end to make sure the back end isn’t defiled either.

Starting out right can make a big difference. I met a new friend recently who found me online on LinkedIn. He wanted to have a discussion about next steps in starting a career in the nonprofit sector. While there’s many possible steps (ie, volunteer), he was a reader, too.

Therefore, today I’m providing a longer list than what I provided to him. It’s a list of books that I’ve found useful while serving in a nonprofit. Good stuff in, good stuff out. Perhaps you will enjoy them as well:

On communication:

On fundraising:

On the sector:

On change management:

On leadership:

And just a few other favorites:

What book is your favorite? Have you read any on this list? Share on Facebook @HopelesslyHopefulBooks.

Photo by Ed Robertson on Unsplash

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

Note: I did not receive any compensation for this blog post. Some of the links above are “affiliate links.” If you use this link, I receive a small affiliate commission. 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.

You Are Already a Mentor

Thanks to the Grant Professionals Association for publishing this blog about mentoring.

“Katie was more than a great grants professional, she was my mentor. She pushed me to seek something bigger than myself. She asked how I had moved my vision forward. Katie connected me with other grant professionals, suggested tools to incorporate into my work habits, and provided a listening ear when a proposal got derailed.

Who in your life sounds like Katie? We are all mentored in life, whether it is a brief encounter that sticks with us or someone who intentionally asks us the questions that compel us to action. Mentors hold us accountable, challenge us, and bring us greater clarity on our values and purpose. Transformation occurs through the inspiration of another person. Are you ready to be that person?…”

Click here to read the entire article.