By Jor-El Godsey
Remember when calling a center “Crisis Pregnancy Center” represented a widely accepted “best practice”?
Best practices, as defined at BusinessDictionary.com, are “methods and techniques that have consistently shown results superior than those achieved with other means, and which are used as benchmarks to strive for.” PRC’s have adopted varied practices over the years. Some flowed from moral or ethical considerations, others were informed by results or intuition. Hopefully, positive results followed all these practices. But have all these practices been subjected to rigorous comparison to “other means”? That is a critical step to specifically defining a best practice.
Any packaged “best practice” should be evaluated in light of the overall mission. This should include understanding the client who is the mission’s target, as well as the vision of the organization and its own definition of success. Variations between organizations, even programs within organizations, suggest that some, perhaps, many practices can’t be applied in the same way from organization to organization with the same effectiveness.
Best practice is more often a high-sounding buzzword for promotional material than an objective, empirical reality. It’s vital to analyze the foundation of any claim involving a best practice. For example in focus testing of the name “Crisis Pregnancy Center,” our target clients’ responses were weak. As a result, the term “crisis” has largely been eliminated from elements of client marketing in favor of new language with broader appeal.
Practices can certainly be good, effective, productive, healthy and even excellent. In time, these may even prove to be best! Until that time, some practices are really just common sense, conventional wisdom, and even basic standards.
By Jor-El Godsey, Heartbeat Vice-President, Ministry Services
From Take Heart | Vol. 2, Issue 6
The water cooler is long gone. Paper plates, plastic-ware, coffee and creamer are strictly by contribution only. Even the birthday cakes for Heartbeat staff have been reduced to a simple card and a group sing. (Seriously, picture a dozen people standing near your desk belting out the familiar tune!) Expenses for office supplies have been cut dramatically. Many such ideas came from staff brain-storming sessions during some very lean months.
Cost-cutting measures for Heartbeat turned really serious beginning with the summer of 2008. The pregnancy help movement felt the economic downturn earlier than most non-profits. As you well know, cost cutting is hard to do when you’re a non-profit and already operating on somewhat of a shoestring. We took even more stringent measures. We trimmed budgeted expenses, reduced benefits, and the whole staff even took two sacrificial, week-long furloughs.
While cutting expenses dramatically, we also put the word out that we needed help. The first and (fortunately) only emergency plea for funds went out to donors and affiliates alike. In addition, special, one-on-one asks to major donors helped us close the gap between income and outflow. As we began to understand the extent of the crisis we took an additional step...
Two years of fasting and praying. . . Boy are we hungry!
Yep, you read that right. Fasting for two years! Well okay, it wasn’t every single day for two years. Actually, it wasn’t even every week. But one day each month since July of 2008, the Heartbeat staff has set aside a day of fasting with specific times throughout that day to gather in prayer for the needs of Heartbeat. Okay, that’s not nearly as impressive sounding as fasting for two years, but still that’s how long we’ve been practicing the discipline as a staff. (Fasting is optional, but almost everyone fasts on our special day. Even board members, intercessors and other close friends join us.)
Prayer is hardly foreign to us at Heartbeat. We gather each and every day around 9:15 a.m. to pray for our affiliates, staff needs, upcoming events, faithful and generous donors, our partners and the mission and pregnancy help movement. So, if you’re calling our office between 9:15 a.m. and 9:45 a.m., you might not reach us directly because we’ve gathered to pray. It’s not mandatory but everyone’s usually there if they can be.
Setting a specific time to fast and pray clearly has been vital in getting us through some tough times. Focusing on God in the midst of our crisis and working diligently to do what we could saw us through a very difficult time. In the waning hours of 2008, we watched the Lord work a miracle where the year-end giving closed the year’s expense gap! In gratitude, we rejoiced! We partied! And then we went to work implementing our newer, leaner budget for 2009.
I’m glad to report that in 2009 we finished in the black. In 2010, things are challenging but not at crisis level. God is faithful. And we’ve continued to fast and pray one day each month. And yes, we’re hungry. Hungry for God as He leads and provides for the mission and vision that He’s firmly planted in our hearts.
Prayer helped us in many ways cope with the crisis we experienced. Prayer served to calm our fears and to put our trust in the best source – God. Prayer helped us unite as a staff even as we faced significant threats to our work and vocation. Prayer helped us not to get “mean” even as we were getting lean.
So take heart in your situation. Set aside time to pray. Consider a time of fasting. Always remember to look upward as well as inward in any time of crisis.
Back to Take Heart | Vol. 2, Issue 6
by Kirk Walden
Recently I noticed a photo of toy soldiers in my files from a Disney trip last year. It’s not often that I get inspiration from toy soldiers, but it hit me that in the Christian life there are True Christian Soldiers, and there are Toy Soldiers.
Right now, many in our ministry are discouraged and tired. I have an email in my inbox right now from another who wonders if it is time to give up. I understand.
But there is good news for True Soldiers like you. For one, if you are involved in this ministry you are no Toy Soldier. You know the Toy Soldiers. We pray for them, those who come to church dressed perfectly, always smiling brightly and never flustered.
Toy Soldiers march in at the right time and as soon as the clock hits the right mark, they march out again. No scuffs on those shoes and not a mark anywhere else. Toy Soldiering is a great life, or so it appears.
After all, if you never involve yourself in combat there are no scars, no pain.
True Soldiering involves battles. Our uniform gets dirty. We get marks on our bodies and our emotions are worn thin. We wake up not knowing what is around the next corner, wondering whether the next battle will bring victory or a devastating defeat.
While we know that ultimately the war is won, we don’t know what it is going to take to get to that victory. And, we don’t know whether we are going to suffer in the process.
Toy Soldiering is dress-up, and we see it too often. To be honest, we feel sorry for the Toy Soldiers. To the Toy Soldier we want to cry out, “Join us in the battle. Hearts are at stake. Lives are on the line! Be a part of a glorious victory!”
But to the Toy Soldier, the risk of a wound is too much of a bother—even with lives hanging in the balance.
Yet while we hurt for the Toy Soldiers, True Soldiers start each day on a valiant mission to advance a calling of reconciliation and the calling of life—a mission launched, carried out, and carried on by none other than Jesus Christ.
Sure, we’re going to get dirty. And we can count on battle scars along the way. We know that. It’s no secret to any one of us.
Some will desert. Others will criticize. Still others—the Toy Soldiers—will look at us with a condescending smile and say, “That sounds like nice work.” They have no idea, yet we know better than to explain.So instead of explaining, instead of responding to criticism, instead of running after the deserters, we soldier on.
Dear soldiers, as Paul told Timothy in II Tim. 2:4, let’s not entangle ourselves with the affairs of everyday life. There is no time for that.
Without pride in ourselves or malice toward others, let’s band together as True Soldiers, ready to fight the good fight each and every day—for God’s glory.
Perhaps I don’t know you personally, but if you are in this ministry I know your heart, which is that of a True Soldier.
From this writer, “thank you.” I appreciate your service. Let others say what they want. I for one am proud to stand with you. It is . . . An honor.
Kirk Walden is the author of The Life Trends Connection (TLC), proven development ideas and concrete action steps. TLC, now powered by Heartbeat International. TLC is yet another valuable benefit for Heartbeat affiliates.
by Jor-El Godsey, Heartbeat International Vice President, Ministry Services
(from Take Heart Volume 2, Issue 1)
A year ending with a zero is a great time to look back at the last time that occurred – 2000 – the unforgettable “Y2K.” Think of all that’s transpired in your organization since 2000. Remember where you were during the dawn of the new millennium. Take note of how different the ministry, the movement, and even the mission appeared to be then. The look back can reveal a journey of challenges and triumphs, victories and setbacks, celebrations and sorrow.
Here’s a question: from the vantage point of 2000, what view did you see out there on the 2010 horizon? What decisions made then are producing dynamic results now for you, your mission, and the movement? What plans were set down then but have yet to come to fruition? How is 2010 different for your community, your peer counseling, and your commitment to the mission?
This year of 2010 is a good time to look forward to the next ten years and begin to develop a “2020 Vision.” Crafting and casting a vision with the year 2020 in mind can help leaders to see beyond the tyranny of the urgent and formulate a vivid picture that can serve to guide the organization well. In clarifying your “2020 Vision,” there are five key concepts to consider:
As your 2010 unfolds, take time to plan a “2020 Vision” session. Whether in a dedicated meeting of a few hours or a discussion that unfolds over many months, the important thing is to take the time. Take time to sow seed that will flourish for those who will take up the mantle in 2020. Your decisions today will be their harvest then, so take the long view.
by Ben Young and Dr. Samuel Adams
(from Take Heart Volume 1, Issue 8)
Do you ever feel out of control? Are you too often over scheduled, over committed, or over tired?
The title of Ben Young and Dr. Samuel Adams’ book, Out of Control Finding Peace for the Physically Exhausted and Spiritually Strung Out, is a mouthful. But don’t let that fool you! In this book, Young and Adam give us practical insights that are straightforward along with techniques that go right to the heart. They describe how to recognize the lies that feed our out-of-control lifestyles. They give help in rediscovering the power of full engagement through periodic disengagement -- also known as rest! They map out a road to explore deep insights by learning how to choose the life God designed for each of us.
I especially appreciated that the authors of this book did not shame the readers for the way we have been living. They empower us to make changes that will revolutionize our lives so that we maximize our most valuable resources of time and energy.
Reviewed by Betty McDowell, Heartbeat International Director of Ministry Services
Click here to order a copy...
Read more from this edition of Take Heart.
by Jor-El Godsey, Heartbeat International Vice President
From On the LeaderBoard | Volume 1, Issue 3
In this age of information, the average leader is awash with details. The great task of most days is wading through data to assemble, assimilate, and assign value to meaningful information. But information by itself, without context, isn’t particularly helpful. It’s likely just trivia.
Information must be organized into meaningful constructs to become knowledge. Knowledge becomes understanding when we find relevant application. Wisdom is manifested in how information, knowledge, and understanding are handled. Wisdom involves judgment, sensitivity, tact, and often, timing.
Where there is no choice, the exercise of wisdom is limited. It is when we recognize multiple choices, possibilities, or actions that wisdom can become our friend and ally. Judging between choices and possibilities leads us to questions about what we know, how we know it, and if we know enough.
Wisdom often involves balancing the need to gain more information with the available resources (including time) necessary to make an informed decision.
Besides information, there are other wisdom elements that come into play such as sensitivity to those involved or affected. The wise leader works to involve to some degree the stakeholders in the decision-making process. That could be in the form of a single brainstorming session or, full-on collaborative planning process. Even the most visionary thinker can have blind spots. Actively seeking the input of others, within reason, can minimize these as well as strengthen acceptance of the outcome.
The wise leader also factors the impact of the decision on others.
There must always be sensitivity to the fact that, even with the best of intentions, some people may be negatively affected. Therefore, the best decisions will include appropriate tactfulness in implementation. Tact is also important in communicating the decision. Crafting vivid, warm, vision-focused language can tactfully define a decision for all involved.
More than sensitivity and tact, wisdom seeks a process that honors all involved. Hard decisions, even those with difficult short-term consequences, can be implemented with this in mind.
A good decision, implemented in an untimely fashion, can produce negative results.
Wisdom involves timing for many reasons – maximizing return on investment, minimizing negative impact, speed to achieve expected results, slow implementation allowing others to adjust, etc. Tough decisions can require difficult steps that involve short term pain. But those difficult steps can be accomplished well.
Fortunately, wisdom isn’t just an innate quality reserved for a few. The book of Proverbs consistently implores us to seek and pursue it. Wisdom is promised by the Lord. Those serving in Christian ministry, at whatever level, should consistently pray for wisdom in all endeavors – personal, professional, and organizational.
Adapted from Heartbeat International’s foundational training manual, GOVERN Well™
Jor-El Godsey, Heartbeat International Vice President of Ministry Services
Thank you, C. L. Sholes!
C. L. Sholes’ legacy is something affecting me (and you) nearly every day. How?
Sholes was the Milwaukee inventor of the QWERTY-style typewriter keys back in 1878. I doubt that he could foresee then the keyboards that we use today. Certainly, one hundred plus years ago, he couldn’t begin to imagine that keyboards would facilitate instantaneous communication across the globe. Nor could he predict the teeny, tiny keyboards on the mobile phones of today. Yet, his far-reaching creation endures, useful to and needed by people all over the world.
In 1971, the founders of Heartbeat International essentially created something useful, enduring, and needed, just as Mr. Sholes did in 1878. The result of their effort was not a physical product (though Heartbeat has those), but instead a federation of life-affirming service providers. Today, that federation spans the globe, counting more than 1,100 affiliate locations in nearly 50 countries.
Today, Heartbeat International affiliates belong to a network that serves an estimated one million people each year. One million people! That’s more than the populations of some 70 countries around the world. For illustration, that’s more than the entire population of the country of Cyprus, a Mediterranean island.
Each affiliate playing a part in his or her community makes us all greater than the sum of our parts.
What a legacy the founders of Heartbeat International began when they saw the need for a place that unites life-affirming efforts into a worldwide federation! So take heart, the legacy of the work you do in your center will be multiplied and lengthened through the lives and lifetimes that you are touching.
From On the LeaderBoard | Volume 1, Issue 1
Is leadership an art or a science? Is leadership the same in the business world as it is in a Christian ministry? Is there an essential difference in the way that a man leads vs. the way a woman leads? Can a person learn to be a leader or is it an innate gift or skill?
Leadership is a complex subject and there are many opinions about the questions above, as well as many other deep, almost philosophical questions that can be asked about this subject. As I think about leadership within a pregnancy help ministry (a center, clinic, maternity home, adoption agency, or any other Heartbeat affiliated organization), one thing I can say for sure, however, is this: even though one person may be seen by almost all as “the leader,” it is not a healthy situation when there is only ONE person in leadership. This may sound contradictory, but let me try to explain what I mean.
At Heartbeat, in our conversations, e-mails, and person visits to our affiliates, we have observed that often one person, most frequently the director or executive director (sometimes in larger organizations called the CEO or President), feels the entire burden of the organization’s success or failure. This person is often “called” to the position, sometimes is the founder of the organization but often not, is totally dedicated to the mission, is multi-skilled, works very hard, and is looked to by almost everyone else (both inside and outside the organization) as the key person. You might say, “Well, what’s wrong with this picture”?
If this one leader is, in fact, the only person exercising leadership within the organization, if everyone else is a follower, here are some of the consequences that we have seen occur:
Leadership, I believe, should be a shared function. A healthy organization should have a team of leaders working well together. This team is really the “horsepower” of the organization. One of my favorite sights, living as I do in the state of Ohio where we have the largest number of Amish people of any other state, is watching a team of horses, driven by a gifted Amish farmer, plowing the fields. It is a thing of beauty to see how the farmer, with slight movements of his hands on the reins, keeps these powerful beings working in unison. I’m sure it is not as easy as it seems. It takes a lot of learning and probably years of experience to steer such a team. If one horse is pulling too hard, he may be pulling all the other horses too! If one horse is not in step, the work is much harder, and there can even be injury.
Who are all the leaders within an organization? Well, that depends on how large the organization is and in what stage of development. But we can start with at least two in every organization: the executive director (ED) and the chairperson of the Board. Each has a sphere of authority in which to lead: the ED leads the staff and most of the volunteers; the Board chairperson leads the Board members and any other people who work with the Board (e.g. some Boards may work with consultants or have volunteers who work with the members on committees, etc.).
If the ED feels like he or she is also leading the Board, something is wrong. Sometimes the ED mistakenly thinks that leading the Board is his or her job (it is not), or the ED begins leading the Board because no one on the Board has “stepped up to the plate.” If the chairperson of the Board is leading the staff and the office volunteers, something is wrong (unless you are in the start-up phase or an all-volunteer organization with no paid staff). Sometimes if the chairperson of the Board is leading the staff, it means that the Board has no confidence in the ED, or the Board chairperson mistakenly thinks it is his or her job to lead the staff (it is not).
The most common reason for NOT having both a staff leader (the ED) and a Board leader (the Board chairperson) is that the Board members do not understand their role in the organization. They may mistakenly think that they are in an advisory role and that their job is to be cheerleaders behind the ED, or simply “prayer partners” for the ED and staff. They do not realize that there are LOTS of jobs that Board members should be doing and that they have a responsibility to govern the entire organization. These jobs and the govern responsibility are discussed thoroughly in Heartbeat’s Board manual called GOVERN Well™. Also, Heartbeat consultants are available to come to your organization and provide a specific training for your Board members and ED on Board responsibilities and jobs.
If Board members do not accept their responsibilities to truly govern, the entire organization can be in jeopardy. In fact, there is a state of organizational development called “Decline and Dissolution” and it is often caused by a failing Board. A Board often fails if and when a strong ED tries to lead both the staff and the Board, a feat that is humanly impossible to do well.
Let me share what a positive scenario looks like, when there is leadership at both the staff and Board levels. At Heartbeat international, I am the overall leader, although we have many other staff leaders as well. Carla Cole leads the staff in fulfilling our strategic plan as effectively and efficiently as possible. Jor-El Godsey leads the Ministry Services team, and within that team, Betty McDowell leads all the trainers and consultants who work with our affiliates. John Ensor leads the Mission Advancement team whose responsibility is communications and fundraising.
We have a very strong Board chairperson, John Cissel, who leads a Board of 12 members, leaders in their own right, some of whom lead specific functions on the Board (such as financial oversight).
John Cissel (the Board leader) and I (the staff leader), although not living in the same city, meet frequently by phone, sometimes touching base several times a week , by phone or e-mail, to keep each other updated on what is happening within our spheres of influence. I don’t try to do his job and he doesn’t try to do mine. John is always thinking of ways to engage our Board members and help them use their gifts and skills to advance Heartbeat.
Board members, in turn, often e-mail John or me (with copies to the other to keep both of us in the loop) with ideas or contacts that may help us or that relate to an issue or problem we are discussing at Board meetings. Our Board only meets in person twice each year, but three additional times by conference call. Yet, all Board members know each other well, know our staff, and are engaged in advancing Heartbeat and our mission. This is due to frequent communication between John, the Board leader and chairman, and Board members, and between John and me. John and I plan the Board meetings, and our annual two-day Board retreat, together. John conducts all the Board meetings and leads the Board retreat, but I have a central role in those meetings and in the retreat.
John frequently says to me, “The Board and I are here to support you and Heartbeat.” I feel and treasure that support and my partnership with John. I know that we are on the same team and are pulling together, a little bit like the two lead horses in that Amish farmer’s powerful team.
John always opens and closes every phone call meeting with me with prayer, so we are constantly calling on the Lord to bless our time together, and to bless each other in our roles as, for the present moment, the two key leaders of Heartbeat International.
It should not go without saying that the leaders whom I have described here are the human leaders of the ministry. But, of course, the power behind these human leaders should be the Lord. In fact, we are powerless to do good without Him. We should be on His plan, not just ask Him to bless ours. All the leaders within your organization must first and foremost be close to the Lord, listen to Him, obey Him, and let His light shine through them to others. You do not want a leader in place who is not in this kind of relationship with the Lord.
In work like ours that is, at its root, the struggle between good and evil, between light and darkness, the Devil will be working overtime to bring disunity and, even more so, chaos into our organizations. He loves to see us destroying everything good through our own sinfulness – through rivalry, jealousy, power plays, anger, impatience, control, competition – especially between and among the leaders of the ministry. If we are wounding or destroying each other, we make the Devil’s job easy – our ministries collapse from the inside out. Guard against this with all your might and seek God’s protection and grace to carry out your leadership role in building His kingdom (not yours!).
Though the weather has been anything but welcoming, the 17 attendees to Heartbeat's Institute for Center Effectiveness are gaining invaluable insight from the shelter of the great indoors this week in Columbus, Ohio. Top-notch training from long-time pregnancy help leader Kirk Walden and leadership expert/executive coach Kitty Allen have comprised the week-long event, which has drawn participants from as far away as Southern California and South Carolina--home of Heartbeat's 2014 Annual Conference March 24-27. The week-long training event includes a tour of Heartbeat International's central operating facilities, including the headquarters for Option Line, Heartbeat's 24/7 pregnancy helpline.
by Debra Neybert, Training Specialist
Since building an effective team will ultimately affect the women and men you are trying to serve, board members and directors looking to strengthen and nurture their team need to take specific steps to positively impact their staff and volunteers.
The Board of the organization is responsible for creating an environment that puts people first, that solves conflict in a healthy and biblical way, and that also allows people to develop and ultimately use their God-given gifts and talents to bless those they minister to.
A healthy leadership team (Board and Executive Director), can be a source of nourishment for an entire organization as they model servant leadership and provide professional development opportunities.
One characteristic of servant leadership comes prioritizing your relationship with the Lord, which then leads to pursuing a particular God-given mission. Board members should have a calling to follow the mission of your organization. The mission energizes and creates a passion for leaders to take on the responsibilities and jobs that come to Board members. It will also draw others to get involved and energize their passion for the mission.
Servant leaders should value their relationship with fellow members of the leadership team. These relationships must be characterized by love. In 1 Corinthians 13, the Apostle Paul describes the kind of love that God would have us exemplify. Servant Leaders are sensitive to the needs of those they work with (fellow leaders on the team), and to those under their direction. Servant leaders also lead by example and are willing to doing small jobs as gifts to others.
As the Cross drew near, Jesus introduced his followers to servant leadership as a radically new form of leadership, such that the world had never seen.Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (John 13:3-5)
Another characteristic of a servant leader is peace. It is always easy to remain peaceful when nothing is rocking your boat, but remaining peaceful is more challenging when struggles begin to surface, whether in relation to finances, personnel, internal or external challenges, transitions or attacks.
A peaceful environment is the result of effective servant leadership. This is an atmosphere of peacefulness that nourishes the organization when conflicts are handled in a biblical way. One extremely helpful resource Heartbeat recommends and uses is Ken Sande’s The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict, a practical handbook for peacemaking based on Matthew 18. When this kind of conflict resolution is modeled by a leadership team, the entire organization benefits.
Another way the Board can encourage and nurture its team is by proactively investing in professional development opportunities.
A good working environment is crucial, including space and equipment. It is the Board’s responsibility to see that those under their care, especially the Executive Director, are treated with dignity and respect. When dignity and respect are modeled, these virtues also filter down to the whole organization and bear much fruit.
A good salary and benefits for the Executive Director and staff are some of the ways that dignity and respect are shown, and it is always wise to plan ahead and make provision in the budget for continuing education and training for the Executive Director and staff.
Continuing education can be provided in many ways: through the Heartbeat Academy, one-on-one mentoring of the Executive Director by a Board member, community workshops provided by local foundations, a line item in the annual budget to send the Executive Director (and at least one Board member plus other staff and volunteers) to one of the Heartbeat International training events (Annual Conference, Executive Roundtable, Institute for Center Effectiveness).
A commitment to the on-site or online training of Board and/or staff every few years is also a tremendous way to nurture your center, while a prayer retreat for the Board and/or staff is a blessing that can be provided by a local pastor or priest (or both).
Training events also provide an excellent networking opportunity for Board Members and the Executive Director (and staff) with other nonprofits in the local community and, in the case of Heartbeat International events, with similar ministries all over the world.
Order Heartbeat International’s GOVERN WellTM today to find out how you can become a more effective leader in your life-affirming center.Also, don’t let the chance to invest in your leadership excellence through the 2014 Heartbeat International Annual Conference, March 24-27 in Charleston, S.C.
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