A principle that I have lived by for quite a few years is “A Need is not a Call”. By that I mean, just because there is a need out there, even a need that you could conceivably meet, that doesn’t mean that you should or that God is calling you to meet it.
That flies in the face of so much recruiting and fundraising that we do in churches and non-profits. We think that if we simply can convince people of the NEED that they will respond. Or at least that they SHOULD respond.
I simply do not believe that is the case.
I believe we see this demonstrated in the life of Jesus:
That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”
Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” (Mark 1:32-38)
Jesus’ purpose (and by extension) the purpose of his disciples was to be faithful to the call of God…not to every need that possibly could exist somewhere.
I have known several individuals who severely limited their effectiveness in leadership because they spread themselves too thin. Whenever a need arose, they felt that they “should” do something about it. Especially if they had the means or ability to do so, they were even more compelled.
But in spreading their financial resources or energy resources or time resources so thinly, they really didn’t have enough to do ANYBODY any good. They give a little here and a little there of their money, time, influence and energy and nobody really benefits to any substantial degree. It may have made them feel good about themselves, but is feeling good about ourselves without genuinely doing good what God calls us to do/be?
Of course, this thinking is predicated upon the assumption that you know what your strengths are, you know what resources are under your control and you have a sense of vision or a sense of God’s call on your life. WHY (specifically) did God put you on earth? Was it to meet your own selfish pleasures only? (Most of us would say no). Was it to do as much general good in the most general way that we can? (I suppose that is better). But God put you in specific relationships, in specific geographic locations, in a specific time period, with a specific gift set. Is it not possible that he has something greater in mind for you than to simply to do as much general good in the most general way that we can?
There is generally a wealth of ways we can benefit others within a specific need point. That doesn’t mean that we only give to one cause or only volunteer for one cause. But we have to ask…if I say yes to giving to this in time or money, what am I saying no to? Is this really how God has called me to spend my time, money, resources, energy, influence?
I recognize that for those of us who have made our living trying to get as broad a base of financial donors and volunteers that we can, which makes our lives harder in one aspect. But on the other hand, it can make our work easier. We as leaders of organizations recognize that our organizations are not called to be all things to all people. We can’t. WE must focus like a laser beam as an organization to be most effective.
We should expect no less in the lives of our donors and volunteers.
Thoughts on that?