“Many people wander through life, unaware of their purpose, blindly following the whims of the world.
Listen to your life. That’s Frederick Buechner’s advice. An author who spent part of his life as a schoolteacher and another part as a minister, he observed that finding your vocation is less about grand moments of discovery and more about a habit of awareness. In his memoir Now and Then, he wrote:
See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments…
What Buechner was saying is that knowing what you’re meant to do doesn’t just happen. It’s an awareness that has to be cultivated. In other words, you don’t just know. It takes time and practice to figure out your calling.”
Click here to read the rest of Jeff’s post.
Sunday, I finished an excellent book by Adam Braun entitled The Promise of a Pencil. Other than a few places where he uses some less than best language, the book is excellent. He has several quotes through the book I want to highlight for you. They are not new – many are rooted in Scripture and you have read other versions of them in other places. But they sound fresh from this young man who is changing the lives of so many.
1. “. . . I would find far more fulfillment if I measured my life in purpose, not profits.”
2. “The biggest difference between the person who lives his or her dreams and the person who aspires is the decision to convert that first spark of motivation into immediate action.”
3. “The purest joys are available to all of us, and they are unrelated to status, recognition, or material desires.”
4. Listening intensely is far more valuable than speaking immensely.”
5. “I could never make assumptions about how others perceive me.”
6. “Most ventures fail in the early stages because people stop trying after they’re told no too many times.”
7. “Our cultures glorifies founders and CEOs far too often, when in fact the early adopters and evangelists are actually the ones who make a company’s success.”
8. “. . .we recreate our reputation every day.”
9. “We exist because of the sacrifices of those who came before us . . . ”
10. “Become your dreams.”
11. “Those I met defined themselves by what was on their mind, not on their business card.”
12. “How many times have I missed an incredible connection that could have been made because I had my face in my phone instead of paying attention to those around me?”
13. “I understood that I might fail, but I wouldn’t let it happen because I changed my compass along the way.”
14. “You need to know the character of the people at your side. Trust is everything.”
15. “Creating something new is easy, creating something that lasts is the challenge.”
One of the things I enjoyed about this book is Adam Braun comes across as a learner. He is constantly talking about how he benefitted from the advice of others. He was candid about his mistakes. Equally impressive is that he is a young man making a huge difference not only because of his passion and hard work, but also because he seeks and listens to good advice. Something some of us older folks have yet to learn.
His story is compelling and the book is worth a read.
. . . what I have argued for, is to make the terrain we live in a little more familiar, slower, quieter, and peaceful. If I could pour calm in my pots I would. If by them I could make people a little happier, feel a little more as friends and family, or be a little more tied to community and God, then I would. – Ron Newsome
This quote comes from my cousin’s husband who is one of the most at peace people I have met over the years. He is a former helicopter pilot that served in Vietnam and now he and my cousin live in a beautiful part of east Alabama and he makes beautiful and very functional pottery (check out his Facebook page here).
“If I could pour calm into my pots I would.” What a thought. He, like many of us, realizes that a good dose of calm is what most of us need. We often live frenzied lives rushing from one thing to another and not even noticing the people around us nor the wonders and beauty of God’s creation all around us. What is worse, all that frenzied running around produces little but stress, anxiety, shallow relationships, and a deep sense of discontentment in our lives as we know something is not quite right.So why do we do this to ourselves? Pride, trying to please or impress others, the expectations of our culture, or maybe sometimes we just don’t know how to live a life of peace.
Now, don’t get me wrong, having peace in your life is not about retreating from life. It is more about choices. It is about centering your life on Christ and resting in him. It is about noticing and engaging with the people around you and truly building community. It is about looking on God’s creation with wonder and amazement at His creativity. It is about creating margin in your life. One of the best ways to start developing that sense of contentment is to first take your eyes off of yourself and place them on the Lord and others. It is amazing how things change when you change your perspective.
So, why not change? What is all this frenzied running about really gotten you so far? What is stopping you?
Now, one of my favorite closings of Paul’s epistles:
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holt Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:14
One of the challenges with the term nonprofit (a legal tax designation) is that it communicates many things incorrectly and creates a certain stigma both within and without the organization. First of all “nonprofits” actually need to make a profit or they cease to exist, just like for-profits except it is usually a longer and more painful death.
Secondly, thinking like a “nonprofit”, especially ministry-based nonprofits, causes them to devalue good business practices as if they were somehow morally wrong. The result is that the “business” side is not done well which causes the ministry / service side to eventually implode.
Now, there is a new, and better, way in my opinion, of looking at “for-purpose” organizations. Following is a lead statement from an article on Forbes entitled, A New Nonprofit Model: Meet The Charitable Startups
Startup companies are traditionally for-profit enterprises, but in recent years philanthropic ventures have begun adopting the technological know-how and scrappy mentality of startups to develop a new breed of lean nonprofits.
Adam Braun, founder of Pencils of Promise who “refers to Pencils of Promise as a for-purpose organization rather than nonprofit, insists they remain focused on a bottom line – but instead of gross profit, its gross efficacy.” Braun believes that nonprofits can learn from big business.
Braun said. “Across both startups and the not-for-profit sector, people are driven by intense passion around purpose and mission – they’re there because they believe the company is doing something that wasn’t there before.”
“Entrepreneurs have a ludicrously large vision to change the world but have the humility to be solving very clear painpoints,” agreed Ted Gonder, founder of Moneythink, a nonprofit which teaches financial literacy to inner city students. “All these things are also true of nonprofits.”
So, if you lead a nonprofit maybe it is time to step back and change the way you think about how you operate. Is it time to start learning from startup businesses, learning from big business, and maybe partnering with for-profit organizations in more ways than simply asking for donations?
Maybe it’s time for a new way? Maybe “for purpose” organizations?
One last quote from the article that I think is worth all of us keeping in mind:
“Startups test new innovations and are always evolving – I think that that’s really, really important for any organization.”
Have a great week – I know our team has an exciting week ahead of us!