are you really sure God told you that?

The Place of Spiritual or Dynamic Experiences in Nonprofit Planning

I asked a client about the various funding needs of his Christian organization. His reply went along these lines: “Yes, we need a better building, and yes we need more on-going program funding, but what we =really= need is an endowment of $3.2 million.”

He then told the story about when hands were laid on him, people prayed over him, and he was commissioned to his present position. By his telling, at that moment, big things happened to him, spiritually. He didn’t use these words, but basically he said he received “a word from the Lord” about a $3.2 million endowment. There was also some calculation involved, about how the interest from that sum would meet the needs of the organization

So. Yeah. How to think about this, when a nonprofit leader claims to have “a word from the Lord”? How should that fit into strategic planning and considerations related to organizational development? Not all nonprofit leaders have “a word from the Lord,” but many, maybe most, nonprofits have significant, even dynamic, stories at the heart of their history. Maybe a founder was confronted in an emotional way with some aspect of human need. Maybe a founder looked at their life and decided to leave a profitable business career to “give back.” Or maybe it’s a tougher-to-explain, but still very real, spiritual encounter.

I’ve learned to take these things very seriously. Do I know for a fact that this thing is from God? No. I’m not God. But I do know for a fact how important, and how real it is, to the person sharing the story.

The moral of this story: if a leader says they had a “word from God,” or some other kind of dynamic experience, don’t dismiss it. Stand humbly before it. Help them build plans with it in view.

love, joy, peace … Michael Michael is a freelance consultant to nonprofits, with an emphasis on research. Contact him for a free, one-hour consultation.

Vol. 1 No. 8

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