I know I said I would write the next blog about our 2 big annual fundraisers, but I saw a slogan on the sign of a national charity and I had to get my thoughts about it down on paper. I am not sure if it was just a Christmas slogan or if it is this organization’s mission statement, but it really got my mind going about some things and I wanted to share those things with you. The slogan was, “Helping the Most People.” You have probably seen this organization around, especially lately, and from what I understand it is a very strong and well-performing non profit. The reason, however, that this slogan got me thinking so hard is because it points to what I believe can be a pitfall for people, churches, and nonprofits. After rethinking that last sentence (like I said, this slogan really got me thinking) I would say that “pitfall” is too weak of a word for the negative consequences that come about if our #1 goal is to:
“Help the Most People.”
Let me explain what I am talking about because, at least in theory, helping the most people is a very noble goal. Let me list the things that I believe can happen when we try to help every single person with every single problem:
- We never actually solve a problem, we just throw a little help towards it, celebrate the fact that we did something, say something along the lines of “you can only do what you can do,” and move on to the next problem. It’s almost like “ADD” charity.
- We never become experts at anything, we just become very average (probably below average) at a lot of things.
- We don’t have time to work with people to help them solve problems, we just “fix” things the way we think they should be fixed and when we leave the problem just pops right back up.
- The worst thing that happens is that we see people in desperate poverty and we help them enough so that they are in slightly less desperate poverty but we never show them more. We help them just enough so it looks like, to our friends and/or donors, we have helped them and they are grateful, but their lives and circumstances are never really changed at all.
I could list a few more things, but you see where I am going with this. The truth is, there are so many needs in Haiti that it would be really easy to try and do everything. We could have jumped in and started raising money to do disaster relief work after the hurricane, but we are not a disaster relief organization (click here to learn more). We could try to build houses, do feeding programs, fund a clinic, build a school, or try to start an agriculture program but that would just take our focus away from what we do well. That is not to say that we should become stagnate in our work and not want to improve or do other things. In fact, there are 2 specific areas that we are looking to move into in the next year (job creation and discipleship training) but they are both things that we believe are huge needs in our community and things that we believe our organization will excel in accomplishing. We are trying not to do too much at once and we are trying to focus on the things that we can do well.
Let’s think about how this same principle plays out in our personal lives. Think about your schedule (not just during the holidays because I know that is different). What are your priorities, what are things you do because you feel like you have to, and what are things that you do and can’t even remember how you got roped into them? Are you driving your children to sports 5 times per week, going to church 3 times per week, ballet, PTA, fundraisers, etc. until you have completely run yourself ragged and have no time for anything? I believe it is wonderful to stay busy and keep yourself out in the community sharing the love of GOD with others, but at some point we lose ourselves. We get so involved in so many things that we do not have time to do anything well. We are not good worshippers because we are too tired, we are not good employees because we are preoccupied with other things at work, we are not good church members because the church becomes just another task, and if we are not careful we can become poor husbands, wives, Moms, and Dads because our lives get too crazy! And worst of all, we may become poor followers of Christ because we lose sight of what that even means.
Finally, this same principle can show itself in churches as well. Small churches try to pattern themselves after larger ones that they share nothing in common with and larger ones try to do so many things at the same time that nobody knows why or how they started all that they do. Sometimes churches try to support every missionary and organization that comes to them and sometimes they refuse to look outside of their own walls. A 50-member church should not be supporting 15 missionaries, a 1,000 member church should be supporting more than 1 mission, and every church should be involved in local, national, and international missions in some way. There is no excuse for a church to say, “we cannot help over there when there is so much going on right next door.” It is unBiblical and it is unloving. At the same time, how much better could our churches serve their missionaries if they did not overextend themselves and could focus time, prayer, resources, and people on helping their missionaries on the ground succeed (internationally and locally). The truth is, the 3 churches that support us do a remarkable job in missions and could easily be an example for others.
I wrote another blog a long time ago kind of making fun of a national grocery chain’s new slogan that it was advertising, “Getting better all the time.” I thought it was one of the worst, funniest, and most ridiculous slogans I had ever heard. It was basically Winn Dixie telling everyone, “We are horrible, but pretty soon we are going to be a little less horrible than we used to be.” That should never be our goal! Our goal should be to follow the leading of Christ and the passions and talents that we have been blessed with to worship our Father, and in that worship to not be average. We should seek to excel and be really good at the things that we do, and we cannot be that if we allow ourselves to be changed by every circumstance that comes our way. Our goal is to be the best at orphan care and taking care of our children. Only when we felt like we were doing a good job with our kids did we even begin to look at other ways we could get involved in our community. With your help, we will continue to strive to be excellent at the things that we do rather than average at doing a lot of things!