You never know where you'll find the best gift.
It was bound to happen. The dreaded day became a reality. Our nearly 30-year-old Kenmore dishwasher went kaput. It bit the dust. It went to dishwasher heaven. It was like an old friend – tried, true and reliable. Kenmore, we miss you. Sears, we’re sorry you went out of business. It’ll be three weeks before our new dishwasher arrives.
And you know what that means…we are having to wash dishes by hand. But here’s the good news: I’ve discovered that my spouse, Tom, is really good at washing dishes. In fact, if they sit there long enough, guess what? He washes them! How lucky he is that I let him do this. It will surely make our marriage stronger.
Speaking of assets – have you recently thought about all the gifts your congregation or organization possess? As I mentioned two weeks ago, I’m currently taking a four-week course, “Congregations Learning and Practicing Abundance,” sponsored by the Lake Institute on Faith & Giving (out of the Indiana U Lilly School of Philanthropy).
In preparation for the course, we read Michael Mather’s excellent Having Nothing, Possessing Everything: Finding Abundant Communities in Unexpected Places (2018). Mather’s congregation is in an urban area where there are many needs. Rather than focusing only on the community’s problems, he transforms many of his congregation’s ministries by discovering what assets and gifts the surrounding neighborhood can bring to the table.
In a previous life, I worked in Higher Education with students who did community service (aka service learning). One of the things we tried to instill in students was, “People with needs define their needs. People with gifts define their gifts.” For many students that was an “aha” moment for them. People who have needs also possess invaluable gifts? Why, of course.
So too with your own congregation or organization. No doubt, you have assets you are not aware of. Fortunately, the folk at Lake Institute have provided an “Asset Map” that can help you identify some of the gifts that are right in front of you that may have gone unnoticed.
- Human – who works with you?
- Facilities – where can you work?
- Financial – how do you pay for it?
- Service – what do you do?
- Equipment – what are your tools?
- Reputational – what are you known for?
- Network – who do you know?
- Intellectual – what do you know?
Want a copy of this to use? Download it here.
This exercise, done by yourself, will probably take about an hour to complete. But why work alone?
Consider bringing these asset questions to your leadership group. Break them into small groups or chat rooms and assign each one or two assets to consider. Come back and discuss.
You’ll be surprised by the richness of the gifts your congregation or organization brings to the table. If you let it, this activity will spark creativity and a renewed sense of optimism.
And who knows? You may find your very own gifted dishwasher in your midst.