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Affluent Christian Investor | October 21, 2017

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The Decision to Serve Full Time

You have been engaging in generosity of your time and talent, and early serving experiences have you hooked. You want to do more. Are you considering possibly serving full time?  Maybe you feel called, and the question you are struggling with, “Is it realistic?”

So how do you decide if you want to serve full time in a nonprofit/ministry? It is a major step requiring a lot of contemplation. Based on my experience coaching numerous people that have considered the decision to serve full time, I want to provide some questions to mull over. I have also been in your shoes. I faced the decision whether to move into the nonprofit arena. I made the transition, and worked on executive staff of a national ministry, and launched a nonprofit foundation from scratch. It isn’t for everyone, so how can you determine if it is for you?

When exploring serving full time in a nonprofit/ministry environment, there are many variables to consider. Here are several scenarios, each with more than one option.

Scenario One: You are retired with a reliable income.

If this is your situation, here are two typical models for serving full time:

1. Full time volunteer working for an established nonprofit/ministry –  If this is an option, here are some questions to consider: What draws you to the organization you want to serve? Does it reflect your passion? What would be your role, and does this role utilize your unique design? If it is a paid position, would it best serve the organization if you volunteered without the salary, or should you take the salary and give that away? If you have always been in the for-profit sector, are you prepared to work within a nonprofit culture?

2. Start a nonprofit/ministry and serve full time – Here are some questions to contemplate: Do you have a good sense of purpose as to your primary reason for wanting to start a nonprofit/ministry? Are you entrepreneurial by nature? Have you ever been part of launching a business or nonprofit/ministry? Do you have access (or can you get access) to the resources needed to launch a nonprofit/ministry?

Scenario Two: You own a highly successful business that provides a very reliable income for you, and doesn’t require you to manage day to day operations. 

Here are three possible models for serving full time:

1. Full time volunteer working for an established nonprofit/ministry – If you are considering this option, here are some questions to answer: What draws you to the organization you want to serve? Does it reflect your passion? What would be your role, and does this role utilize your unique design? If it is a paid position, would it best serve the organization if you volunteered without the salary, or should you take the salary and give that away? If you have always been in the for-profit sector, are you prepared to work within a nonprofit culture?

2. Start a nonprofit/ministry and serve full time – Here are some questions to answer: Do you have a good sense of purpose as to your primary reason for wanting to start a nonprofit/ministry? You have started your own business, but do you like the process of launching something from scratch, and do you have the energy and commitment to do it again? Have you ever been part of launching a nonprofit/ministry? Do you have access (or can you get access) to the resources needed to launch a nonprofit/ministry?

3. Full time business owner voluntarily serving/ministering to your own employees – You may feel called to stay in the for-profit sector. You want to serve/minister to the employees in your business that have been with you through all of your business challenges. They are like family and you want to help them live a better life. Here are some questions to consider: Do you have the passion for ministering to/counseling/mentoring/discipling/assisting others? Do you have the kind of relationship with your employees—or can you establish it—that would allow you to serve/mentor/counsel them well?

Scenario Three: You need an income from working, but feel called to full time nonprofit/ministry service. 

Here are two typical models:

1. You will adjust your income needs to match the compensation offered by a nonprofit/ministry – Here are some questions to consider: What draws you to the organization you want to serve? Does it reflect your passion? What would be your role, and does this role utilize your unique design?  Have you (and if married, your spouse) prepared a personal budget to see if the reduction in income will work, or cause too much financial pressure? If you have always been in the for-profit sector, are you prepared to work within a nonprofit culture?

2. The compensation you will receive is not markedly different than your current income – This situation is easier, but there are still some key questions to consider: What draws you to the organization you want to serve ? Does it reflect your passion? What would be your role, and does this role utilize your unique design? If you have always been in the for-profit sector, are you prepared to work within a nonprofit culture?

Other Things To Help With Your Decision

If you are married and considering the decision to serve full time in the nonprofit/ministry arena, what does your spouse think about this? Is he/she fully supportive, or do they have some doubts? This is an important decision that will impact both of you, and needs to be discussed and explored together before committing. Without knowing your unique situation, I would caution you not to proceed until both of you are on the same page.

If you have a reliable source of income and are exploring serving full time, consider an interim role.  At the Halftime Institute, we call it a low cost probe. Maybe it is for 3 or 6 months, or even a year. Having an end to your commitment gives you more freedom to try some things, as you determine whether serving full time is for you. Those I coached that served in interim roles learned a lot about themselves and their ideal serving role, which proved invaluable. Whether they turned their interim commitment into a permanent one or moved on to another opportunity, the experience was most helpful in deciding what to do.

There is a myth I would like to dispel about serving. Some have the opinion that really committed people will serve full time in a ministry/church/missionary/nonprofit role. They also believe that if you are not in full time service, you don’t yet have your priorities in order. There are many generous, servant-oriented people that desire to be in the business world. They believe that being in the for profit sector is the best way they can live out their generosity. This is also a noble calling, and we need many more that are generous and servant oriented in the world of business.

And last but perhaps most important for those that are followers of Jesus—seek God’s direction about what you feel led to do. What is God saying to you? How can you get confirmation that this is what God is leading you to do?

As you are exploring a new adventure and impact, it is my hope that this blog is helpful.

 

 

Originally published on Whole Life Generosity.

 

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