Vocational Stewardship

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Temptations of Pathway Two

The Temptations of Pathway 2

The main temptations of this pathway involve impatience, arrogance, and failure to appreciate work styles or work environments/cultures different than those with which one is most familiar and comfortable. High capacity marketplace professionals are likely to find the nonprofit world a rather different animal than the corporate world. Some of those differences point to weaknesses in nonprofit culture, but others may reveal its strengths.

Pro bono volunteers need eyes to see both, rather than just getting irritated by inefficiencies or the lack of “shipshape” policies and procedures. They will also need to cultivate an appreciation for the talents and skills of the nonprofit staff. These individuals may not demonstrate the same kind of “smarts” that the professional volunteers have. They may lack the same level of formal education or training. Consequently, church leaders should be intentional about reminding their well-educated members that are many different types of smarts in the world¹ and that there is such a thing as a “street education” that can count in nonprofit work as much or more than college education.

Leaders can also foster an attitude of respect for the community organizations with which they are partnering by modeling that respect. All communications about the congregation’s work alongside these partnering organizations should emphasize the mutuality of the relationship. Leaders should do nothing that communicates: “Well, those nonprofit partners of ours are certainly lucky to have the support of our flock, given how talented and well-educated and competent we are.” Avoiding such obviously patronizing language is fairly simple, but leaders need to watch their words diligently when they are praising their members for their service. Affirming the professionals who use their talents to serve community partners is legitimate and important, but should always be done in ways that acknowledge the dedication and talents of the partners as well as the achievements of the congregants.

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[1] See Howard Gardner, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences (New York: Basic Books, 1993).

Pathway Two Profiles

Paper chemist Dan Blevins has discovered joy deploying his talents abroad.