We Tried That, It Didn’t Work: Things Founders Say

 

As a new director of a nonprofit I was asked to bring about change.  I had no idea at the time the depth of change that the board wanted, and that was needed.  A founding board member wanted to get some classes going.  She was hoping we could finally get a program off the ground.  She said let’s try again?  Sure why not.

So we set the date, time and location.  We sent out some fliers and then naively waited for participants to come to class.  We had a beautiful table full of helpful resources waiting, coffee brewing, and refreshments.  We were ready to serve others and help meet their needs.

No one showed up.

No one.

We tried, it didn’t work.

About three years later when I began to have a better understanding of community programs and services I could start to see what we did wrong, or the many things we did wrong.

  1. We gave up. You can’t judge something on the first try.  We shouldn’t have given up so easily.  Had we kept trying we could have a strong class today.
  2. We didn’t analyze what we were doing. God wants to help these people. So we are going to help them.  We actually never took the time to research how similar groups started, how they were maintained, how much they cost, and how to start them.  We just had it in our heart to do something.  Good research and even a casual analysis of what we were doing would have done wonders to ensure success.
  3. We didn’t even add it to the budget. Please don’t laugh.  Please.  I didn’t know what I was doing that first year.  I didn’t realize the obvious.  Doing things for God costs money.  If it’s important it needs to be added to the budget.  The process of making a budget will help us take some good steps towards creating a great program.

It’s the Communities Fault?

Someone said this.  I found myself saying this a few years later when I became frustrated.  This just doesn’t work in our community.  I am not convinced  that is true.

Perhaps our community wants this service, but offered in a different way.  We do need to consider our culture, but it’s not the community, or a competing social service organization’s fault that no one is coming to our class.

There are always more steps we can take towards success.  People we can network with to learn from.  Time we need to take for development.  Resources we need to build.  Rarely can we say we did everything we could.

Jesus own ministry is a wreck.  His followers are weak and fail Him.  They don’t show up for His meetings, and rarely provide the financial resources needed for the ministry.  He doesn’t give up.  Neither should we.  Keep trying, and in the meantime take some practical steps to help develop a strong program that will meet the needs of people for many years.

Marcy Pedersen

 

Community

Incorporate Who You Are Into What You Do Regularly: Then Where You Are Won’t Make A Difference.

He walked into our office with a smile. He walks into the office everyday with a smile. Everyday.

He is accomplished but in a position that is beneath him. He is wise yet humble. He is smart yet listens. He is mature, knowledgeable and finishing up a career in a job that offers less responsibility and the ability to do an aspect of his work that he loves.

He has been in the marketplace long enough that he has learned the key to it all. This seasoned professional tackles entry level work just as he would managerial work. He does this by incorporating who he is into everything he does. The task might change, but he doesn’t. He knows who he is and is that person on a regular basis. This gives him purpose in his work. The work doesn’t define him, he defines the work.

I am a_____, not a _______

I am a MBA student, preparing to start an internship in my late 40’s (also known as close to 50), a mother, writer, wife and chaplain for a local business. My dream is to write, consult and teach. I devour books, am a foodie, love to travel, exercise, cook and enjoy spending time with my family.

I am a servant of God. I am a sinner. I am forgiven. I am tempted and over come. I am bathed in grace. I serve. I love and am loved. I follow. Someone died for me. Someone intercedes for me. Someone enables me.

We must keep in mind who we are. If we incorporate who we are into our life and work then it won’t matter what we do or where we do it. We will define what we do. We will not be defined by what we do.

Dr. C. Moore states in his book, From Failure to Promise, that “while selling shoes, I kept in mind that I was still a student on the path to becoming an engineer” (2014). Dr. Moore failed out of college and had to move back home to face his family and figure out what to do to become the engineer he dreamed of becoming.

Many of us are not where we want to be in life and work for many reasons. Yet we are not defined by our job. I am not an intern. I am a MBA student on the way to becoming a writer, teacher and consultant. The internship is simply a step to help me get there. I am also a servant of God and everything in my life has purpose. As does everything in your life.

You are amazing. You are not your job. You are a unique creation of God. Who you are is what defines you. Be that person everywhere you go. When you do success will always follow.

Marcy Pedersen

Work

The Internship: An Unexpected Journey

In the summer of 2000 I was faced with single parenting four children ages 8 months, 2, 4 and 9. I had no way to support them and did the only thing I knew to do to equip myself to become the main breadwinner. I went back to college.

It took me seven years to earn my bachelors degree. Part of that was due to transferring colleges, and part because I couldn’t always swing a full time schedule and part-time work. I finished. Along the way my husband and I worked things out, but I was determined to never face the situation again where I had no way to support myself and my children.

Marriage’s don’t always heal quickly. We spent several years in pain and continuing to hurt each other. I spent years wondering if he would come home after work. At any moment things could sour and I would be faced with single parenting again. I planned on getting a nice job upon graduation. I wanted to put my degree to use and build some stability in my life.

I did a degree audit two semesters before graduation and realized that I had to complete an internship in order to complete my degree. Things at home were stable enough that I could do that, but where? I don’t live in a metropolis, and I still had four young children to take care of. I couldn’t afford to pay a babysitter while I completed an internship somewhere for little or no money.

God had plans. He had the most amazing plans.

A friend of mine invited me to be on a board of a nonprofit. A pregnancy center. She was a close friend so I said yes. I had no clue what a pregnancy center was and no idea what a board member did, but I showed up to the meetings. Around this same time I was able to review what would be required for my upcoming internship. I emailed my professor for the next semester and asked if I could complete the internship at the pregnancy center. It seemed like a good fit. I could complete all the requirements at the center. The professor agreed.

In August I began to volunteer at the center two afternoons a week. I was there to help and complete the work for my internship. As I look back I realize that God had a plan. A plan that I could have never imagined. I was clueless to what was getting ready to happen. God had me right where He wanted me, and I had no idea of the events that would take place that would completely change my life.

I want to write a series called The Internship. It has been ten years since I completed that internship, and now I am preparing to complete another. This internship is one that will help me transition to become a government employee. The story of how I got here today is not unlike the one before. I am four weeks away from starting the next internship and wonder what God has in store. If it’s like before then I know something amazing is about to happen.

I also want to write about what happened to me through that first internship. God took a hopeless sinner and used her to help others. He took a rebel and molded her into a servant. He took my independent heart and carved it until it became enamored with touching the lives of others.

God has us right where He wants us. That place might not be anywhere we had planned to be, but make no mistake that you are where you are for a reason. I am where I am for a reason. I look forward to sharing this journey with you. I hope it helps you with yours.

Marcy Pedersen

The Internship

Good/Bad Day at Work; an Attitude or Circumstances

If I am connected to the living God then that just makes everything different.  Right?  It really does, or it should.

If I am really connected with the living God I am connected to someone who empowers me with His Spirit.  We are constantly connected.  There is no where I can go where He isn’t with me.  Nowhere.  Annoying and comforting at the same time.

If I am really connected with the living God then I have His Son who is interceding on my behalf.  That is Jesus Christ.  So while we are down here busy with social media, godless living, mindless living, in the midst of trial and messes He intercedes.

If I am really connected with the living God then I have His Word as my guide and teacher.  It’s like no other book.  Where is the movie on this one? Is there not something mystical and powerful about the living Word of God?  A book that has the power to change lives.  I want to watch that movie.  Instead.  Let’s live it.

A Bad Day

The alarm goes off.  I am reminded that I am not where I want to be in life.  Here we go.  Feed the animals, make coffee, clean up the kitchen, pick out my clothes, iron, shower and rush off to work.  I can’t wait to spend another day in the last place I ever want to be.

I walk in.  Yeah.  Better praise God for my job.  Thank you God.  Unemployment would definitely not be better than this.  I dwell all day on my mid-life career and life crisis.  Actually all week and for the past two years.  Why don’t you just read your Bible?  I am.  It’s a process not magic, right?

I engage and then don’t.  I see opportunity but then am confused.  I apply for jobs when no one is looking.  What am I supposed to do with my life?  Perhaps it’s because I was in ministry for seven years and every moment was spent helping others.  Perhaps it’s the reality that I am just like everyone else.  Ministry made me feel special.  Grinding through the 9-5 makes me feel loathsome.

Is this job the problem or my attitude?  Will everything get better when the circumstances change, or when the magic of Scripture happens and my heart changes?

A Good Day

The alarm goes off.  I am reminded I am not where I want to be in life, but I understand that God is doing something through my journey.  I see His humbling hand molding and changing me.  I see Him trying to give me rest.  Marcy, I know this job isn’t challenging, but right now your life is.  Will you trust me?  Yes, Lord I trust you.

I read the Scriptures and during the day my thoughts and heart start to change.  I start to get clarity.  It’s not directly related to the verse I read, but the Word working through me is making things clear.  I am starting to rise above.  Nothing at work has changed.  I am still doing the same thing I did yesterday.  Still in the same place in life, yet everything has changed.  I have a vision that supersedes circumstances.  A vision of God.  A delight in His Son.  A sweetness from His Spirit.

I have always thought that the beauty of knowing Christ was in the way that He changes everything by changing me.  He has a way of transforming the mundane, the pain, the grief and confusion and making it into something beautiful.  He has a way of making the circumstances seem unimportant.  He has a way of getting us to realize that we need a heart and attitude change.  When that changes so does our view of the world.

Every day is a good day to rely on God.  To seek Him and let Him change our view of life.

Every day is a good day when we see it through Christ.  When we let His Word permeate our souls.  There is no magic to it.  No quick fixes, but through the process God will create something beautiful.

And yes.  Today I am thankful I am not where I want to be.  I am thankful when the answer to the prayer is no and when I get to see God change my attitude.  It is then I know Christ’s intercessory prayer was answered.  At the moment I don’t care if I ever move on from this point in my life is exactly the moment it will all change.  I can’t wait.  My heart is ready now for what God will do later.

Marcy Pedersen

 

 

 

Work

I Wouldn’t Cheat Like John Stumpf: A Look at the Wells Fargo Scandal

It is amazing to read the stories of CEO’s and corporations that get caught in the most elaborate schemes to drive up stock prices, and generate large profits. They are creative, but always seem to lack common sense. I often wonder how it all starts.

Are they sitting at their desk concerned with annual earnings, and how a drop in stock prices will affect their annual bonus? Is their fear of failure so strong that it drives them to act unethically to earn a profit, and satisfy stakeholders? How does it start? Once it starts I imagine it’s hard to get out of it. Especially if it works.

Former CEO John Stumpf is one of many CEO’s to get caught acting unethically, and to stand before a US Senate Committee to answer for his actions. He led Wells Fargo during a time when employees were asked to create at least eight fake accounts for every customer. The so called increase in business would raise stock prices. Under John’s leadership the company collected $2.6 million from fees on unauthorized accounts.

Once the deceit was discovered Wells had to pay $185 million in fines, 5,300 people were fired, and Stumpf would later step down as CEO. The companies reputation would be hurt, and Stumpf would have to pay back millions of dollars.

As I read these cases I am astounded by how many people get involved. Over five thousand people were fired at Wells. In other cases of corporate fraud CEO’s rarely acted alone. They are accompanied by a devout group of people who back their actions, and profit from them.

It’s so easy to begin to judge them. To look at their greed in disgust. I am pretty sure that I would have been able to shield myself when the first phone call came, or enticement to open up a fake account. Right?

A department supervisor begins to talk about opening fake accounts, or perhaps they would have called them secondary accounts. Perhaps someone said it was a way to establish additional credit for loyal customers. They were doing them as a service. That doesn’t sound so bad. Yeah, I can help them out. We can get their credit established, and ready for when they need it.

Surely a memo didn’t come down and say that we want to establish fraudulent accounts so we can drive up stock prices. Surely no one said do this or your lose your job?

Let’s learn from these cases, and use them to look at what we are doing in our lives, and at work. I doubt any of us could say that we have never been tempted to cheat a company in some way. If we have then we are as guilty as CEO’s like Stumpf.

As Christians in business we are held to a higher standard. Small indiscretions are a big deal to God. He doesn’t look at million dollar fraud any different then He does us taking office supplies home. He also asks us to look at our own hearts, before we judge the hearts of others.

I can’t imagine doing anything that would lead to opening millions of fraudulent accounts. I can’t comprehend the actions that led up to John Stumpf standing before a congressional committee and apologizing for the misconduct at Wells.

I can remember the wrong I have committed against God, and am humbled by the grace that He has shown me. I will never stand before Him in judgement, and that knowledge helps me to remember that without Him nothing would stop me from insatiable greed, and acting immorally and unethically to drive up profits, and satisfy an unquenchable desire for more money.

Because of His grace,

Marcy Pedersen

Work

Listening with Great Skill: Communication

 

She walked into the room, and asked for help. To determine what type of help she needed I had to ask good questions. I asked her three questions before she told me a story that astounded me, and shook me to my core.  My encounter with her changed my life. I had never met anyone who had really lived through everything she was telling me.

I had been trained to provide crisis counseling at the time, and to assess the most prominent needs of our clients. I was ill prepared for what I heard. I signed her up for our programs, gave her as many referrals as I could, and barely made it to my car before I broke out in tears.

This was the first time I ever counseled another person. I was exposed to the pain and grief that people suffer with. I was exposed to the reality of a life filled with sorrow, grief, abuse, poverty, and hopelessness. It was a beautiful moment to connect with another human being.

Communication & Listening

What that woman needed that day was for me to listen. She needed someone who cared enough about her to actually listen to her story. She didn’t need a lot of answers. She didn’t need my wisdom, as if I have any, my experience, my skill, my mastery of words. She needed my ear.

How can we communicate if we don’t first listen? How will we know what to say, if we don’t first listen to what is said. If it’s not being said then we need to ask questions. I have never met another human being that I was able to figure out. Even after 27 years of marriage I am always amazed about how little I know my own husband.

There are barriers to listening. Here are a few. I catch myself doing them all the time.

1. Anxiety. Fear fuels anxiety. It’s a powerful emotion. If I am anxious I am less likely to take the time to do about anything with patience. I am less likely to listen to you.
2. Pride. You know. I know it all. Why would I listen to you?
3. Selfishness. It’s about me. I am talking to hear myself. I don’t really need or want the opinion of others. It gets in the way of me.
4. Lack of discipline. Perhaps we just haven’t disciplined ourselves to learn how to listen first, and speak second. Perhaps we need to break old patterns.
5. Lack of respect. Perhaps we aren’t giving others the simple respect of listening to what they have to say, and the reason could be due to any of the previous reasons.

I was changed every time I counseled another human being. I was made aware of suffering, and grief in the lives of others. I was made aware of how little I know, and how much in common we all have with each other. I was humbled, and honored that I was able to connect with others for the purpose of helping them solve problems, and live amazing lives.

Every person we meet is an opportunity to learn and grow. Every person has something to teach us, if we will listen.  If we speak before we listen we aren’t communicating, we are only talking.  If you want to connect with somone ask questions, listen, and then speak.  When we do we will be on our way towards good communication.

Marcy Pedersen

Work

Making the Most of the Weekend: Who Are We, Where Are We Going, How Are We Going to Get There.

We made it through another week. We have two days off work, and are free to use that time as we please. Well if you don’t count getting the bills paid, getting groceries, cleaning, running errands, going to church, and a million other things that wait for us on the weekend.

If we plan our weekend we can ensure that we fit in time to do some things that will prepare us for another week. We can regain composure, clarity, and assess our life and career. If we don’t life will just keep going by, and we can get on a trajectory that takes us far away from our values, and goals.

Here are some things that can help us stay on track, and prepare us for the week ahead:

1. Take time to re-connect with God. Carve out some time to sit quietly, read through Scripture, and meditate on God. He is really what this is all about. It’s so hard to stay close to Him during the week. The weekend is a great time to commune with Him.
2. Develop you. God made you for a purpose. He made you to accomplish something. Make your mark on the world. That something may have nothing to do with your job. If you don’t know what it is start assessing your life and find out what it is. If you do, then do something every weekend to develop you. Develop the person God made you to be outside of being an employee, parent, child, and spouse. For me that is writing. What is it for you?
3. Set goals for the next week. In small, consistent and powerful ways people can begin to define us throughout the week. Eat this cookie, have a piece of chocolate, let’s go to lunch, let’s do this after work, let’s go on this trip. Are these activities helping you achieve your goals for your life? Set goals for the next week that help you develop your relationship with God, achieve your personal goals, and help you stay on track in life and in your career.
4. Enjoy life. This one is for me. I am so task and goal oriented that I often forget to enjoy life. I actually have to schedule things to do that I enjoy. No matter how hard life is right now we can find something to do that we enjoy. For me it is reading, writing, exercising, and BBC mysteries. What is it for you?

For seven years I managed a nonprofit. God called me there to change and grow the organization, and I did that. I also lost myself in the process, neglected important relationships, stopped enjoying life, and though I was in full time ministry I lost communion with God.

When God made it clear it was time for me to leave the nonprofit I was exhausted, my health was failing, my relationships were waning, and I had completely lost my identity. All of this happened because I let life happen, and didn’t take time to assess who I was, where I was going, and determine how I was going to get there.

I don’t want that to happen to you. This is your life. We only get to do this one time. Take control of it, and ensure that you are accomplishing what you were meant to do.

Marcy Pedersen

Work