Yesterday, I watched The Prince of Egypt with my kids. While it adds to the Biblical story significantly, the great film creates a credible, emotionally rich version of Moses. Raised in privilege in Pharaoh’s household, Moses discovers his Hebrew heritage and tries to fight for justice, only to find himself rejected by his kinsmen and on the run from Egypt as a fugitive. Only after living for years in exile does he receive his call from God and return to Egypt as the vehicle for the Hebrews’ emancipation.
As I watched, I realized something: the setbacks faced by Moses prepared him for God speaking into his life. He could have simply identified himself with the ruling elite of Egypt, except that he can’t ignore that he is part of an oppressed people — and that he himself was nearly killed by Pharaoh’s cruelty. His failed attempt to bring justice to Egypt made him realize the limits of human ability, while his exile in Midian became the occasion for his call from God. The Prince of Egypt does an especially good job of showing us Moses’ transformation from a brash, reckless young man into a humbled servant of God. With the full context of his story in mind, Moses’ feelings of inadequacy make more sense: he has already tried and failed. If he wanted Israel to be freed from slavey, his only option was to rely on God.
Turning Setbacks into Success
At my work, we recently completed a massive, 9-month-long software project. The project, for the most part, was a terrific success, but it didn’t always look like it would be. Right as we were moving from the design phase to implementation, one of our key team members left the company. Not only was our schedule thrown completely off, but we were left with a sizable skills and experience gap. We didn’t know when we would be able to begin the implementation, much less finish it. Continue reading Setbacks, Software, and the Prince of Egypt
Last week, I wrote about the first time that I left the perfect job. At the time, I left one perfect job for another one, to serve as Associate Director for InterVarsity’s Emerging Scholars Network. I began working for an organization that I loved, on a cause that I personally believed in, using skills that I both had and enjoyed using. On top of all that, I regularly met fascinating people – for an overly curious generalist like myself, getting to ask academics about their research on a daily basis was like heaven – and got to work with a fantastic team. What could possibly go wrong?
The problem: the position required me to raise the funding for my salary and expenses.
Don’t get me wrong – there’s no problem with fundraising. It’s an important part of nonprofit work, and raising funds from a broad base of support provides stability and demonstrates that people other than the founders believe in the mission. In a ministry context, personal support raising also serves as a test, not only to see whether the mission is worth supporting, but whether the specific individual is the right fit for that mission.
For me, however, fundraising was a constant struggle. I had some success – one year, I raised over $50,000 – but that success was overshadowed by the even larger amount needed to meet my budget — usually $70,000 to $90,000. My supervisors came up with generous and creative ways to supplement my fundraising efforts – matching grants, bridge grants, part time and short term positions that provided additional funding. In the end, though, none of it was quite enough. Continue reading Leaving the Perfect Job – The Second Time
Earlier this year, my daughter received a small part in a community theater production of The Little Mermaid. A very small part. Remember the seagull who thinks that a fork was a hairbrush? My daughter was one of his backup singers (also a seagull), and she had exactly one line: “Awk!”
She had worked on her audition monologue and song for weeks. Because she was one of the younger kids trying out for the show, I knew that she wouldn’t get a big role. I worried, however, about her reaction when she found out that her line – “Awk! – would take her as much time to memorize as it would to say. Would she be upset? Would she be angry? Would she want to quit the show entirely?
Her reaction? Utter rapture. As soon as she learned about the casting, she began practicing her “Awk!” endlessly – experimenting with different pitches, volumes, levels of screechiness. She was the most enthusiastic backup seagull I had ever seen, approaching every practice and the performances with tremendous excitement. And her energy was contagious. When I picked up her after the show, older kids cheerfully sang out “Awk!” whenever they saw her.
Watching my daughter approach her tiny role with such sheer joy, I began to wonder: Why don’t I have that kind of attitude toward my work? Continue reading Approaching Our Work with Joy