Monday, May 17, 2010

Transparency in Transition

This is one of those world-colliding, mega-shifting, paradigm-questioning posts that overlays all the different strands of our lives and turns them upside down. It is not so dramatic because of the content but because of the implications that we would like to challenge you to consider just as we are doing the same.

What happens when something challenging and life-changing comes up in your life? What do you tend to do? Most people that we have known tend to hide the challenge.

And they use the following logic in doing so:
1. If people see my life in turmoil they will think there is something wrong with me.
2. If I act confidently then new opportunities will present themselves.
3. What people don’t know won’t hurt them.
4. Besides, I don’t want to burden anyone with my problems.
5. If I share, then when I see “so and so” next it will be awkward.

So as people slog through this recession, many choose to go it alone using one or more of the points I shared above. But if you decide to use this approach, you are missing out!

But before I share why, let me explain why we are writing about this today. As many of you know, Mindy and I have been on a journey. Last year, just as our second book was released (Through the River), we transitioned out of a job that we really enjoyed as Executive Director of Strategic Communication for HCJB Global and went to a fundraising start up. We made this move out of a deep conviction to work together as a team and to learn a discipleship-driven donor development model. However, 8 months into that learning process, the group we joined went through a merger process and several transitions that resulted in the elimination of our job. So here we are, jobless but convinced that God wanted us to make the move and unsure of what He has next in our journey.

It is with that context that we now want to share three reasons why hiding a transition and going it alone are exactly the wrong thing to do:

1. Authenticity: In today’s world where people are surrounded by gimmicks and half-truths, they are searching for authentic voices who speak from their hearts and engage people with truth. But the truth they are looking for is a truth based on humble learning. That is what we learned as we wrote our book: Through the river: Understanding your Assumptions about Truth.

2. Generosity: In our idea economy, you get influence by sharing ideas and then putting those ideas into action in creative and intentional ways. Your transition will birth in you many ideas that need shared and discussed. In fact, as you go through a transition, you will need others to process with and to understand what happened. Your generosity in transition will likely lead to your next opportunity.

3. Innovation: Unless you engage others with what you have been through and the ideas you are developing as a result, there will be little chance for innovation to arise. If you live transparently through your transition, you will have opportunities to share ideas, hone them and possibly apply them in ways you never imagined. It could be that God has allowed you to be in transition so that a new idea can be birthed for His glory. If you spend time on our Innovation in Mission blog, you will notice that disequilibrium is a powerful force for innovation.

We do have one caveat in all of this: transparency, authenticity, generosity and innovation don’t ensure that you won’t get beat up, abused, ignored or drug through a long transition process. In fact, you may have to endure many things you did not expect if you choose this route. However, we can guarantee that you will come out the other end a stronger and more trusted voice for the causes you love. You will certainly be positioned to be a better Kingdom servant than if you deflected and hid during your transition.

So over the next months as we go through this transition, we are committed to being authentic, generous and innovative in our efforts to find out what God has next. And if you have any inputs for us in that journey or any ideas we should consider, we want to hear from you at jonhirst(at)

Our prayer is that this transition in our ministry life will end up inspiring and blessing countless others as we faithfully live out our faith in community.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Innovation in the Global South

You know how you hate to be told the ending of a movie? It really ruins the whole experience. We want to enjoy the whole experience and see where the plot takes us.

But in life, we are not so adventurous. In fact we spend most of our time reducing risk, playing it safe and going down roads we have been down before. It feels safe and comfortable and so we stay on those well-worn paths.

Recently I have been thinking about those paths. I was in Africa last fall and I saw a path wind its way through the red dirt and green foliage and I got to thinking. The innovations that the believers in the Global South will produce won't come from any area we in the West are expecting or have any particular interest in. They will be vastly different.

But they have been slow in coming and I think I know a reason why. When Western ministry organizations come to the Global South to do ministry, they tend to invest in things they care about and believe are innovative. And as we know . . . where the money flows the programs and activity happen.

So we know what is down the asphalt roads that we have built around the world and we inadvertently rebuild those same programs and activities everywhere those concrete roads lead. But what innovations are waiting for the global Church down the red dirt pathways of the world? I have a feeling that we will see some amazing ideas and innovations appear along these paths and they will change the way Kingdom ministry is done around the globe.

So if you work in a Western ministry and you are about to role out what you believe is an innovative solution in a place far away . . . STOP. Ask yourself how you might tap into the innovative streams in the country you want to bless. See where God is leading their hearts and minds before you pull out your wallet or your whiteboard.

You may find that the surprise ending to God's Kingdom work is much more exciting than the ending you had planned!