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. 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!!

Photos by Mollie Bond

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

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.

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 Problems

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

If you work in the nonprofit sector, then you know of problems. Problems in getting clients the support they need, problems with internal systems, problems with budgets and paperwork. Personnel problems, software problems, facility problems. It’s a lot of problems that may overwhelm a person! So, how do you overcome all these problems?

I read recently in John Maxwell’s Everyone Communicates Few Connect that there will always be problems. The goal is not to live void of problems, but have better problems. A better problem is one that means you are on track to reaching your mission. For example, your current software program isn’t flexible in the way that your growing nonprofit needs it to be, and so now you have the problem of finding a different software solution. Or, you had an event that brought in so much money that your team is maxed out on entering in donations, calling donors, and storing the new banners. Those are better problems to have than the alternative—an event that didn’t bring in donations and donors, or no need for new marketing materials.

There’s even better advice to share on better problems. Jesus says to have peace. You will have troubles. It’s a reminder I need too; Next to this verse, I wrote my name to remind myself that I am not immune from problems.

So, the next time you run into a problem (and you will), consider first if this is a better problem. And then, take heart and ask Jesus for the peace that has overcome the world.

Prayer: Jesus, problems aren’t fun, but I know You didn’t promise a problem-free life. Help me when I run into problems and give me a creative spirit when I have better problems. Thank You for supplying me with peace in those situations.

Will you choose peace today? If so, give a like to this post on Facebook @HopelesslyHopefulBooks. https://www.facebook.com/HopelesslyHopefulBooks

Photo by Colton Duke on Unsplash

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

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.

How to Find Treasure

He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure.

Isaiah 33:6

What’s your favorite movie? I am a huge fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean. I remember quoting lines with a friend who loved the movie just as much when it first came out. We talked about the ship called the Pearl that was the treasure in the movie everyone wanted. My friend bought a car and named it the Pearl. The purple sheen overlaid a white car, so the name fit.

People will do a lot of things for treasure. Some of that activity is not so good: stealing, lying, cheating. In the nonprofit sector, employees will change entire programs and the way people receive services to receive dollars from a particular donor.

Other activities that earn treasure are good: building character, learning patience, growing. The individual activities that make individuals better ripples into the sector. When people in the nonprofit sector become better, everyone gets better: clients, staff, volunteers, and board members. As John Maxwell says, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” Consider your circles of influence and how when you earn “treasure” how they will also benefit.

Seeking treasure begins on the individual level. But what is that individual to do first? To find that pearl of value, Isaiah says to fear God. Of course, this isn’t the quaking-in-your-pirate-boots fear, a scaredy-black-cat fear. This is respecting God for who He is and what He does in and through you.

Perhaps the better way of saying it is that God:

  • Is a strong place to stand, a sure foundation.
  • Is the wisest and deepest, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge.
  • Will show you the treasure map if you are willing to follow His path.

In fact, it could be said that finding God is finding the ultimate treasure. And if that’s the case, then the search for treasure is the search for God. Even in a car named Pearl.

How are you finding God as the treasure today?

After seeking God as the Treasure, find your success principles in a free webinar called 7 Proven Success Principles. You’ll learn how to set goals based on your beliefs and core values on Thursday, May 6 at 5:30 pm Pacific Time. Register here.

Photo by Marin Tulard on Unsplash

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

Celebrate Good Times

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

Who doesn’t like to celebrate? The foundation of the new church was complete, the Haitians ready to celebrate, and the memory was already special. Locals placed some rocks and mud around the outside by the locals (because the Americans had neither the muscle or the skill to do that!). The floor was level thanks to the buckets of dirt hauled by hand. That’s all to show for the days of work: a dirt floor and some rocks. Then the roof went up and my heart swelled with excitement and the rush of knowing we completed the first part.

Time to celebrate!

The following day, we gathered to have a dedication service in conjunction with a church service. Usually, the church met outside under a tree. Today, they could meet on the floor and away from the hot sun. Perhaps there weren’t walls, but everyone could envision what the church would look like when it was done. We prayed, exchanged words of encouragement through a translator, and sang a song or two with clapping and stomping creating the beat. Some sang in English, and some in Haitian Creole. A celebration doesn’t always happen at the end of the project.

It wasn’t the first time a temporary building was “good enough” for a celebration. The ark of the covenant hadn’t arrived in the temple yet—the temple had yet to be built! Still, David accomplished the first step and then stopped with the people to celebrate. Sharing food and giving gifts may have been like Christmas before Christmas!

Celebrations—the pauses—give life and energy for the next step. Celebrating is part of the journey, not just for the finish line. Stopping to pause and celebrate, even before going home at the end of a day, is important in nonprofit work.

In Haiti, perhaps it wasn’t possible for myself to lay the stones or carry the cement bags the three miles to the church. Maybe I couldn’t be there when the tin walls were installed. Perhaps I don’t know what it’s like to have that final celebration. But while I was there, I did what I could, and then I joined in the celebration.

What are you going to celebrate today? Encourage others below or by sharing on Facebook @HopelesslyHopefulBooks. https://www.facebook.com/HopelesslyHopefulBooks

Photos by Mollie Bond, 2017

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

Have an Effective Pace

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

2 Peter 3:9

Have you ever asked this question? You know, the one said in a hurried state of mind: “How much longer?” And if you haven’t asked it recently (#pandemic), then that question will pop up soon. We all get antsy, wanting more, wanting forward motion. It’s that feeling when you need to use the restroom but the line is too long. Hurry up!!

For nonprofit work, when an idea strikes, it’s hard not to put that idea into motion right away. It will help people, so why wait?

Instead, we should mimic God who waits for us to catch up with Him. The pace of God may seem slower than our desired pace. Trusting His patience means we can display some patience ourselves. For example, consider waiting for the community at large to ask to put into motion the program or fundraiser or process. Then, when the community needs it, the nonprofit has had an incubator period to develop a plan that isn’t a band-aid, but instead is a real permanent solution. That time spent planning provides the ability to make sure we aren’t leaving anyone out in the solution or process. Sometimes a nonprofit will leave out a client—the needs of who are being served are left out in pursuit of the grant, or the community awareness, or the notoriety. Being like God and slowing the pace allows for patience, full engagement, and inclusion of everyone.

Instead of asking, “How much longer?” ask “How can I be patient?” Wait, watch, see. And be slow. It will result in changed hearts and changed lives.

Prayer: Jesus, I often get ahead of You. You keep Your promises by being slow and patient. I want to do the same.

Is being patient hard or easy for you? Share your tips at @HopelesslyHopefulBooks. https://www.facebook.com/HopelesslyHopefulBooks

Photo by Karim MANJRA on Unsplash

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

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. https://www.facebook.com/HopelesslyHopefulBooks

Photo by Ed Robertson on Unsplash

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

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.

When Do You Launch a New Nonprofit or a New Program?

He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

Mark 4:26-29

It’s the new year, when people think about new habits, new programs, and maybe new nonprofits.

Yet some of the longest-running nonprofits I’ve come in contact with started with someone already doing the work. The founder jumped in because they saw a way to help people and started working with the people needing help. Their passion was contagious. Then, others started taking up the mantel and joined in. Those first volunteers, donors, and friends became board members. And those board members of long ago knew when the time was right to make it a nonprofit, and not a second too soon. From there, whether the founder was around or not, the work continued.

Whether the founder, staff, or board, it’s important for a group to know when it is appropriate to move and when to step back and watch the nonprofit and its program(s) grow on its own. Sometimes an organization will sprout into a new program before the original had a chance to show if it will thrive or not. That first program has to be ready to run itself before the nonprofit ventures into a new program. Know when your program is ripe.

Today’s verse shows the power of giving space for things to grow and not getting caught up in the details. This is an important lesson for board members or founders, who feel the rush of starting something new, whether that is a new nonprofit, a new program, or a new capital campaign. The important take-away is to know when it is time to harvest and time to plant; One program at a time.

Board members need to know when programs or policies are ripe, by watching what is occurring. That does not mean they are fertilizing the soil, transplanting, or otherwise getting involved in the process. Board members are not involved in the day-to-day duties and needs of the nonprofit. Boards exist to note when it is time to harvest or plant new seed. In other words, the board is there not as primary volunteers and definitely not staff, but as policy creators and strategy advisors for the executive team.

Whether your organization began small or big, consider these key take-aways:

  • Don’t move into a new program until your other programs are self-sustaining.
  • If you are a board member, be cautious in getting involved in the day-to-day unless there are no staff.
  • Be brave enough to focus on one movement at a time, then harvest the rewards.

Here’s the lingering question: When do you know the time is right to harvest? Share your thoughts and stories on Facebook @HopelesslyHopefulBooks. https://www.facebook.com/HopelesslyHopefulBooks

One final tip–your personal core values can become a stabilizing factor when you are launching a new program. Watch this 20-minute FREE webinar to find your Core Values Re-Imagined.

Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash

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