Tag Archives: Greater Washington Catalogue for Philanthropy

Purpose Driven

We have such a need for purpose; to have our lives matter. 

I’ve wondered lately if that need comes from ourselves or from God.  We grow up being told we must amount to something.  Our resumes list our accomplishments and state what our purposes have been so that we might find a new purpose.  Author and Pastor Rick Warren has seized on the word “purpose” as his mantra.  In his book “Purpose Driven Life” he points out that real meaning and significance comes from understanding and fulfilling God’s purposes for putting us on earth.  He then lists his understanding of what those purposes are:  (a) offer real worship, (b) enjoy real fellowship, (c) learn real discipleship, (d) practise real ministry, (e) live out real evangelism. His book is intended to help others understand God’s incredible plan for their lives; to see the big picture of what life is all about and begin to live the life God created for them.

As a creature of God am I that much different from the other species that He created?  I’m told the real difference in the animal and human species is my ability to choose.   Each morning my dog stretches as I open the door where his bed is kept and then he walks outside to take care of business, eats his first meal of the day, and then simply enjoys being right where he’s at.  He is always thrilled to see me,  tries hard not to get up on the furniture or puddle in the house, and he feels secure in my presence when there is a thunder and lightning storm.  He models for me what it is like to offer real worship, enjoy real fellowship, and to learn real discipleship. 

When I take my dog for a walk he’s seems a little more excited than when he’s in the house, but he really doesn’t seem to care as long as he is with me.  Is this “practicing real ministry”;  going where your master takes you and just enjoying the experience?

As a follower of Jesus, I’m mystified, amused, and grateful all at the same time as I enjoy the serenity of doing nothing; a stage in my journey that I’ve experienced before but never quite as surreal as this time around.  I fight the inner urge that offering real worship, enjoying real fellowship, and learning real discipleship isn’t enough.  I know that loving God and others is “practising real ministry” and “living out real evangelism” but without an income, high gas prices, etc., for the most part I’m simply staying put and trying to learn what God has to tell me in this stage of my journey…that’s my purpose.

Having figured that out by putting it on paper, I think I’ll walk the dog 🙂



Principles of Jesus

I routinely sit in a variety of meetings.  Leaders who participate in these gatherings are either clergy, representatives of either a ministry or nonprofit, or friends.  At some point the term “principles of Jesus” is spoken.  

As I continue to develop and enjoy a very personal relationship with God I sometimes wonder if I’m enjoying the fullest measure of that relationship.  These musings reflect both my humanity and my understanding that I will never fully embrace and sustain each principle.  This condition is an obstacle that keeps me from fully knowing my Friend.  Therein lies the problem… is my understanding accurate?  Do I even know all the “principles of Jesus”?

In my quest for truth I found this listing posted on a website.  I know the creators of the website are not advocating that this is a complete listing:

  • That the purpose of all life is to “Love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our mind, and to love our neighbors like ourselves.” (Matthew 22:23-40);
  • That the “work of God” is “to believe in the One He has sent” (John 6:28-29);
  • That God is love and that He cares for everyone. (John 3:16)
  • That The Kingdom of God as taught by Jesus is: “Seek first God’s Kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)
  • That maintaining relationships is important (Matthew 18:15-16), as is not letting the sun go down on divisions between people. (Ephesians 4:25-27)
  • That we are not to become judgmental. Jesus said the way you judge others is how you will be judged. (Matthew 7:1-5)

Thomas Jefferson took a whack at developing a list of the “principles of Jesus”.  He used English, French, Greek, and Latin translations of the Bible and cut out only segments of the Gospels and created his own “little book”.  Jefferson felt as though he was “separating diamonds from the dunghill” and believed that he had created “the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man.”   No one has advocated that Jefferson’s “little book” was or is a complete listing of the “principles of Jesus”. 

Sunday after Sunday “Christians” gather in church to learn the “principles of Jesus”.  Is there an agreement on what the “principles of Jesus” are?

The final arbitrator is the Holy Spirit … it doesn’t hurt to gain insight/knowledge from others.  If you have a list of the “principles of Jesus” would you send it to me?


Christmas Mail

This year Rev. Rick Warren (Saddleback Church) saved every Christmas catalog that hit his mailbox.  He reported that he had received 116 catalogs and the entire pile of catalogs weighed over 40 lbs.   His single “tweet” on the subject was “What a waste”.  Around Dec. 3rd I began saving every email and snail mail that requested funds.  As the pile quickly grew, the subtle thoughts I had as I opened each letter and email formed the basis for my irritation with Christmas mail.   

I know that fund-raising is an art and there are professionals who give expert advice about the best approach (language, tone) and the best marketing tools (letter, email, brochure, etc.) to use.  Fundraising has become very competitive because available financial resources are dwindling.  Every request for support that I received appealed to my sense of “Christmas Spirit”.  Most suggested that it was critical for me to give an “end of year” gift so I would receive a tax benefit.  Both  reasons seemed trite and neither motivated me to give.  I felt a small sense of manipulation and that became an irritant. 

The biggest irritant was reading mail from organizations that only contact me at Christmas.  I know it’s not cost efficient to send out multiple mass mailings except during special holidays such as Thanksgiving or Christmas.  I also know that fundraising via email, though inexpensive, doesn’t really produce huge results.  I had to show a little grace on this point but it still irritated me.

What caught my eye in a positive way were the organizations that published catalogs that provided listings of specific items I might wish to give.  (Examples:  Central Union Mission, World Vision, aone:eight)   These catalogs reminded me that there is always need and I should give throughout the year.  These catalogs made it easier to give out of love and obedience to Jesus (the reason for the season) because they seemed to promote relationship over cause.

Taking the time to develop an intimate relationship with an agency or organization is critical and it is key to responsible giving of time, experience/skill, and money.  Such intimacy provides a better understanding of what is already available and what is truly needed (2 Corin. 8: 11-14).  Such intimacy results in giving cheerfully from the heart and not out of a sense of guilt or compulsion (2 Corin. 9:7).   

I’m not wealthy so I can only imagine what a wealthy philanthropist must think when Christmas mail arrives.  I think I would be troubled just by the deluge of requests.  I’d wonder why there is so little collaboration among the various individuals, agencies, and organizations who nobly claim to care and own the solutions that will fix the many issues, problems, and needs that face our community.  I’d wonder how they can afford to continue working independently without sharing “best practices”, knowledge bases, and resources.  I couldn’t help but wonder how many sources request funds for the same cause? (Example: How many agencies and organizations make the same claim that the funds you provide care for the “at risk children” in South East DC?)  I’d want to give each a small financial gift of encouragement but because no one solution stood out I’d probably end up not giving anything to anyone.   While I’m thankful that I’m not a wealthy philanthropist faced with such dire decisions; the mere fact that I’m not able to help so many deserving causes became one of my irritants.    

The Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington annually publishes a free, on-line, Emergency Directory  that lists clinical social workers, counselors, psychologists, shelter workers, clergy and all those whose job it is to help people find emergency food, health care, and temporary shelter for their families.  It lists hotline and social services phone numbers and sometimes e-mail addresses.  A super example of collaboration without competition. 

How does one collect the proper information needed to publish an on-line catalog that continuously captures  input from those who’s significant ongoing efforts are trying to meet the needs of our community?  Would such an initiative form an initial basis for unselfish collaboration and facilitate the sharing of best practices, knowledge, and resources?  Would such an initiative provide a free, one stop online source that would empower those who wish to give financially as well as those who wish to volunteer their time and expertise?  

The DC metro area already has the beginnings of such an effort; the Greater Washington Catalogue for Philanthropy.  There are also many free, on-line sites that help promote volunteerism. 

 How do we merge stated needs with available gifts and passion to create possibility that would sustain real change?  Wouldn’t it be wonderful?