January 9, 2015

A New Opportunity: Accept? Or Pass?

How do Episcopal organizations know what opportunities to take and what to leave behind?

Recently, a friend of mine was offered a big job opportunity. With it came a higher salary, regular hours in the office, and a chance to do some impactful things in the world. Many would have loved this offer (I dreamed big dreams for him). 

He turned down the new position. 

Why? In the past decade there have been several studies published about job satisfaction. This particular opportunity held all the key components that various studies ranked highly. So why did he turn it down? My friend recognized this job wouldn’t come close to utilizing his gifts and abilities. 

In my previous post "Gifts: Thank You But???," I wrote about the importance of articulating both an organization’s mission as well as clear guidelines for Gift Acceptance Policies. When thinking about accepting a gift, our parishes and Episcopal entities need to know which gifts will be mutually beneficial to both giver and recipient. This also applies to opportunities for program development or organizational structure. 

As a consultant, I come across this scenario on the organizational level a lot. Recently, I was working with a parish in Wisconsin that was considering whether to join with a nearby parish. They were trying to maximize their resources and determine if this opportunity would allow both communities to be financially sustainable.

It’s often easy to see the financial benefits of sharing assets. I like to tell organizations first to look to see if opportunities will allow their parish community to live more fully into their mission. It may sound funny for a financial resource consultant to put a pause on a conversation around money and assets, but at the heart of all we do, we must ask:

“What is God calling us to do? Will this opportunity utilize our gifts and abilities? Will we live more fully into our mission?”

Sometimes the answer is yes, but careful planning may be required to prevent the organization’s core mission from spreading too thin or being diluted. 

And sometimes, the answer must be no. For, while there may be financial benefits attached to an opportunity, the long-term impact will not positively impact a parish or organization’s mission.
Identifying your mission and ministry provides a firm foundation for weighing these types of decisions. Articulating this core language about identity and trajectory through a strategic planning session, discernment process, or listening initiative ensures that you have they information you need if an opportunity presents itself.

How has your organization identified its core mission? Have there been moments when this has been tested through new opportunities?

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