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.
by Ellen Foell, Esq., Heartbeat International Legal Counsel
From On the LeaderBoard Volume 1, Issue 2
When was the last time your Board actually looked at your center’s Articles of Incorporation or, more to the point, rethought the issue of whether your center should be organized as a 501(c)(3) religious nonprofit corporation, rather than a charitable nonprofit corporation? I venture to guess that after your center was first organized, the paperwork for the Internal Revenue Service was submitted, accepted, 501(c)(3) status given, the letters locked away in a drawer and no one has seen them since. It may be time to take that letter out of the drawer, as well as the Articles and by laws, and rethink your center’s status with the IRS.
Most centers are not set up as religious organizations and indeed, there’s nothing that mandates it. Many centers typically cite the ability to receive grants as the primary reason for the charitable status. However, in today’s political and cultural climate, the charitable designation chosen by most centers, versus the religious designation, may not be as effective for achieving the goals of your center. In fact, because of the ever-increasing attempts of the proabortionists to shut down pregnancy care centers by any means, your center’s lack of religious status may expose your center to problems.
Some very useful benefits flow to a center that’s established as a religious corporation. Federal law permits a religious organization to inquire about an applicant’s religious beliefs in hiring for all positions. Most of the federal nondiscrimination laws don’t apply in hiring. Many states exempt religious organizations from employment discrimination laws. Finally, the First Amendment’s constitutional protection would flow to a center with regard to communications. In the next On the LeaderBoard article, we’ll examine this option further. For now, take the time to start to rethink the issue.
by Jay Hobbs, Communications Assistant
As your pregnancy organization’s board meets to craft this year’s budget, take a moment to give the room a silent once-over.
Are you looking at a gaggle of starry-eyed dreamers or a collection of bone-dry bean-counters? What if you could tip the scales… to the middle?
You see, two kinds of people need to be involved in the budgeting process. You want your organization’s budget to reflect a sort of modest ambition—a reasonable approach that still has the ability to stretch your organization and its mission. A budget that reflects wisdom and reliance upon the leading of God’s Spirit.
As valuable as starry-eyed dreamers are—the rest of us are happy to have you aboard!—these visionaries often need reigned in a bit by faithful, brass-tacks bean-counters who are best-geared to convert a vision to a reality by executing a plan and process from Point A to Point B.
A board full of visionaries may have an ever-increasing treasure trove of great ideas and lofty budgeting goals, but at some point, these ideas need evaluated, vetted, and implemented by folks with calculators, spreadsheets, and bank statements.
On the other hand, a board comprised of bean-counters will lack the kind of ambition your organization needs in order to truly grow and take those “next steps” visionaries are so very fond of.
Peter F. Drucker, who Business Week once heralded as “the man who invented management, had the following to say in his book, Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Practice and Principles:
The people who work within these industries or public services know that there are basic flaws. But they are almost forced to ignore them and to concentrate instead on patching here, improving there, fighting the fire or caulking that crack. They are thus unable to take the innovation seriously, let alone to try to compete with it. They do not, as a rule, even notice it until it has grown so big as to encroach on their industry or service, by which time it has become irreversible. In the meantime, the innovators have the field to themselves.”
So, we ask again… Who is sitting at your board table?
Who is missing?
Argentina is known for the tango, amazing beef, quality leather goods, and delicious chocolate.
Most recently, it’s also famous for providing the first pope from Latin America, Pope Francis.
In October, Argentina served as host country for the 5th Conference of the Red Latinoamericana Centro de Ayuda para Mujer (CAMs), where more than 200 pregnancy help leaders and volunteers from 10 different countries joined together for information and inspiration.
The conference featured keynotes by a representative from Human Life International, along with Heartbeat International Vice-President Jor-El Godsey, complimented by a list of break-out sessions including Heartbeat’s The LOVE Approach™ (La Propuesta de la Amor) and reaching the abortion-minded client.
CAM centers are growing across Latin America, more than doubling their number to over 130 centers in the past four years! We are blessed to partner with CAM, as—together—we advance the pregnancy help movement worldwide.
by Mary Peterson, Housing Consultant
It seems like a simple enough question, but it can make even a seasoned leader stumble… "What is success for your program?" Gulp.
As Christians, the question might make us especially squirmy. From a Christian viewpoint, success is modeling a life of love, planting seeds of insight, and observing tiny gestures of conversion of heart. We do our part in the work, and trust Christ to bring about the fruit by His Spirit.
But here’s the rub: Funders or major donors asking about success want to know more. They want concrete, measurable outcomes.
So, how do we go about establishing measurables and metrics? What can—at the very least—point to a pattern that just may be success?
With that goal in mind, leaders in the National Maternity Housing Coalition have begun working on a document to capture common strategies toward achieving various outcomes in practical skills, attitudes, and healthy behaviors.
The simple framework of NMHC’s work-in-progress resonates deeply with common sense, but is also rooted in up-to-date research from the Centers for Disease Control, addressing and preventing "adverse childhood experiences" while building resiliency skills. This framework articulates the work homes have been doing for years, while inviting leaders like you to share the "best of" what you’ve been doing, and considering new methods for serving moms in your ministry.
NMHC’s document is currently a working draft, and we would greatly benefit from your perspective! We are having a working session to collectively fill in the framework of this document on September 12 at 1 pm (CST). You can find details for the session here.
Please consider joining us to add your input to the document!
Our work, so dear to the heart of God, plays out on the stages of both the natural and supernatural. On a supernatural stage, we know God's vision for success is not easily quantified and measured.
But the natural stage is where we are called to articulate a vision for success that advances the excellent, transformative work of maternity homes.
And in doing so, we give God the glory!
Grace Chanda Swala was on the verge of giving up.
Having become executive director for Mansa Silent Voices in Zambia just a year ago, Grace and her family had laid the comfort of living in their own home on the altar, hoping to raise support for the fledgling center by renting out their home.
But by the time late July rolled around, and the Africa Cares for Life conference along with it, Grace was on the brink of losing heart.
Her heart burdened for the women and children in her community, and her spirit all but crushed under the weight of financial stress and worry, the five-day bus ride from Zambia to Durbin, South Africa, seemed like an eternity.
Would her center ever reach and rescue the women she passed by on the street every day? Could her ministry thrive under such tight constraints and seemingly insurmountable obstacles?
Would Grace and her family face financial ruin because of their selfless sacrifice on behalf of women and babies in Mansa?
Meanwhile, as Grace traveled the five days from Mansa to Durbin, grace was traveling halfway across the world to meet her, as Heartbeat International’s Director of Ministry Services Betty McDowell arrived for a full week of speaking and teaching at the conference.
Betty’s week started with a visit to Pregnancy Resource Centre, a maternity home in Durbin, and followed up with an in-depth day on fundraising all day Monday and into Tuesday morning.
While teaching two sessions on Heartbeat’s Sexual Integrity™ Program early in the week, Betty delivered two keynotes to the 80-plus person conference, which included representatives from three African nations.
“Vision came through as a major theme at this conference,” Betty said. “These friends face so many hardships we don’t here in the U.S., or even most parts in the west. It blew me away to hear from each organization about the problems they deal with: HIV, high crime rates, and even personal safety at risk on a day-to-day basis, and yet they keep at their work in spite of all these obstacles.”
“Africa Cares for Life did a superb job with this conference, and so much of the credit goes to Shanno Enoch, who was running her first conference as Executive Director,” Betty said. “That group is such an encouraging example of what true learners and servant-leaders look like.”
As the conference, “New Beginnings… Bountiful Harvest,” progressed, leaders like Grace were refreshed, encouraged and better equipped to hold fast to the Gospel of Life in spite of the daunting challenges they face every day.
For Grace, the conference truly proved to be a new beginning. As she boarded the bus back to Mansa, prepared for five days en route home, Grace reveled in the encouragement, instruction, and fellowship that had left her rejuvenated, and freshly ready to pursue her God-given call.
Grace also reflected on God’s faithfulness to provide a harvest. Even after a hard year of working the Zambian soil.
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