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I had a chance to listen to a ministry founder this morning talk about his struggle with turning loose of the ministry. It’s glib and not really helpful to say, “Let go and let God.” All entrepreneurs are high control. It’s their/our nature. In our desire to make it right we sometimes smother the baby and shut down the people around us.
In the earliest years of The Gathering a Board member saw this in me and told me I needed to let go…but I did not know how. So, that week-end I went to the story of Moses and his mother and found some help. Maybe it will help you.
A few things happen in this story that helped me work through it. First, had the mother kept Moses he would have eventually been found and killed. Her natural desire to hold him close and protect him would have been the cause of his death. As well, had he died he would never have accomplished what God intended. Not that God could not have used someone else but He wanted to use Moses and his mother’s love for him, ironically, was an obstacle to that.
Second, in letting him go she turned him into the hands of a natural enemy who was the only one who could guarantee his survival. Founders feel that way about governance, boards and accountability sometimes. “They” are trying to control the vision. “They” don’t understand the threats to this ministry. “They” want to take it away from me. How will it survive without me?
Third, we don’t learn the name of Moses’ mother and father until several chapters into the story. They are anonymous. Moreover, Jochebed (his mother) is willing to become the nursemaid to her own child instead of what every fiber of her body must have wanted to scream out, “This is my child. I am the mother. He is not yours.” A founder, to truly let go, must make that sacrifice and accept their role as the nursemaid and not the mother. To be anonymous is hard enough but to be content to play such a role is the litmus test.
So, my young friend is off to struggle with those three things and I am looking forward to hearing from him sooner or later.Comments
A young friend (let’s call him Cole from Chattanooga, Tennessee) and I are having a back and forth conversation about the intrinsic value of donors becoming more competent and skilled. While we are in agreement on the value of competence, we are probably on different pages (for now) on how to define that.
The exchange started with our both seeing the difficulty of donors first encountering complexity. They believe (and sometimes ministries encourage this) that a gift to a particular cause will make everything in life better for a child. If we can improve their access to water or health care or education or Bibles then their whole life will improve. Whatever the cause, it tends to claim the key role. After a few years of experience we all know that is not true but how do we explain complexity without discouraging well-intentioned donors? They thought supporting this one organization was going to fix things. I wrote:
“Yes, explaining complexity to funders takes some of the air out of the balloon, doesn’t it? That’s a large part of the appeal of online funding, contests, feed a child for $1/year, drill a well, get a shot, etc. It’s part of what we have tried to explain in a number of sessions at The Gathering. We don’t want funders to “blame” ministries for the complexity of the issues and not delivering neat solutions. Sometimes donors ask for simplicity that just doesn’t exist.”
Cole wrote back: “I agree with you…and I am passionate about helping equip people with “actionable intelligence” and to walk alongside them on the journey. I feel like we are called to excellence and don’t you think the collective bar could be raised by more well-informed, globally aware, and culturally sensitive givers? Professionals (foundation staff) should be able to help principals up their game.”
I wrote back: “Yes, but most people improve their game by playing with their peers who are a few strokes better. We put on Pro-Am events with foundation staff showing the donors how staff play the game. While it’s fun to play with them, it doesn't necessarily raise the level of play.”
We probably agree but I’m not sure how many principals learn from the professionals or how much more the principals want to learn. I think it may be like the relationship between a week-end golfer and a golf coach. The golfer wants to know enough to play with his peers but not go on tour. The coach needs to be clear about how much time and energy the player is willing to commit.
Cole and I will keep this going because his desire to see principals benefit from the knowledge and perspective of professionals is pure and my bias toward peers educating peers is well-ingrained! Still, I heard a phrase today that applies to both of our points of view.
“The gap between knowledge and wisdom is your ability to teach someone else.”
Whether it be the professional or the peer, the ultimate test is our ability to teach someone else. The world of giving needs not just more knowledge or competence. We need wisdom that is capable of teaching someone else.Comments