Can we fulfill the mission by giving up the organization?

Resurrection Downtown

A historic church in downtown Kansas City, Mo., turned over its building to the thriving United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. (UMNS photo by Fred Koenig)

I am a part of multiple membership organizations. Each strives to strengthen its members and each relies on those members to continue the organization.

Sometimes, though, we must give up the organization in order to maintain the mission of building up the membership.

This can be seen in a variety of service and learning clubs, churches and even sub-groups within churches. When the membership no longer has the energy to maintain the organizational structure, it is better to give up the structure than to force the members to expend so much energy that they end up burning out and giving up on the mission completely.

Organizations should not expect a small number of people to do all the work of organizational maintenance, particularly when the mission of the organization is to support those same people who it is expecting to do all of the work. An organization cannot support a person, when that person basically IS the organization.

How, then, will the people find support without the organization?

Most of the organizations I am referring to have multiple branches. When one branch folds, another takes on its work.

Let those who need a break from being a leader join with another group that already has leadership. In this way the mission continues.

Of course, sometimes the next nearest organization with the same mission is far away. In these situations there may need to be more of an effort to maintain the organization.

Such an organization may be able to obtain some assistance from outside of their area, but it may also need to take a break and then re-organize at a later date.

I am in love with non-profit organizations, and I want to see them succeed in fulfilling their missions. However, any organization will fail if it keeps pushing its leaders until those leaders want nothing more to do with the organization.

How are you rotating leadership in your organization so that no one burns out? When have you made the decision to fold your group into another in order to continue the mission and support your members?


It’s Time for a Multi-Party State

House Speaker John Boehner

House Speaker John Boehner (Photo: Andy Wiltrout. Some rights reserved.)

Alright! I have avoided much overtly political conversation on this blog to date, but the Federal government’s inability to work out a debt deal is driving me crazy. It is time for the different factions in Congress to split into their own parties. This is not to say that they cannot form coalitions to elect house-wide leadership or to pass bills. However, we need to free up the leadership and each parties’ membership to state their true alliances.

The main divide we see right now is between the House Speaker John Boehner-led Republican old guard and those most often cited as being backed by the Tea Party. It is time for the Tea Party to formally become a political party with its own members of Congress. This would make the lines between each group much more clear so that the various groups may focus on what is really important to them and their constituents.

Of course the real question here is whether the Tea Party is more powerful working through the Republican Party or separate from it. Boehner and the Republican old guard have the most to lose from a formal split with Tea Party backers. They would either have to give more power to the Tea Party in order to maintain a coalition or switch to working more closely with the Democrats. Even without a formal split, that’s what seems to be happening. Boehner’s trying to figure out whether he and the Republican Party have more to lose by bending more to Tea Party supporters or toward Democratic members. Republicans gained control of the House because of Tea Party support, but at least some Democrats are needed to get a deal into law.

I have been in support of a multi-party system for many years. I would love to see more choices throughout the political spectrum. I am tired of a one-on-one party fight, and now I’m tired of an internal party fight. Let’s break into a multi-party system, coming together where we have agreement and finding other partners when we don’t. The people of the United States deserve to know where their political leadership truly stands.

Toastmasters Brings Confidence as Speaker and Leader

Toastmasters InternationalOn July 1, I will become governor of Area 52 of Toastmasters District 63. Toastmasters International is an excellent organization that has guided many to greater confidence as speakers and leaders. Indeed, it has helped me greatly in overcoming my own nervousness and in finding a way to lead an organization to fulfill its mission.

I joined Toastmasters nearly four years ago, shortly after being laid off from my first full-time paid job, which I had held for five years. The economy was beginning to collapse, and I was anxious about my search for new employment. I was a certified Christian communicator and a clergy member of the United Methodist Church, but I was not confident in my own ability to communicate orally either in a job interview or a future place of employment.

For years my parents, both former Toastmasters, encouraged me to seek out a local Toastmasters club. However, it was the lack of employment and the advice of a career counselor that finally gave the kick that I desperately needed. Fortunately there was a Toastmasters club meeting just around the block from my home.

Upon joining Nashville Toastmasters, I quickly learned to listen carefully to what people where saying and doing when they are speaking or leading a meeting. The evaluation aspect of Toastmasters is one of the most powerful aspects of the program. Evaluation in Toastmasters is very supportive and encouraging while also addressing the areas that need work. We do pick a best speaker of each meeting, but it is more a time for encouragement than it is a time of putting one on a pedestal. Everyone who is a member of Toastmasters knows that we all came with something to learn. Therefore, we know that we were once that new person who struggles to get out a sentence without saying “um” ten times.

I listen now. I pause before speaking. I am much more able to facilitate a meeting without it turning into an argument. I am grateful for Toastmasters and am looking forward to this new year as Area Governor.