Future Search

In a couple of weeks, a whole bunch of us is going to search the future. It’s going to be fun, exciting, reassuring, and inspiring. That’s my forecast (See? I’m already predicting the future!).
Most of the wisdom about how World Vision should operate exists in the minds and experience of ourselves. This process is designed to reveal that wisdom to ourselves.
As I have moved around the organisation in events such as the alignment process and the Board retreat, I have discovered a lot of exciting ideas about our future. I also discover some frustration. Often people think they are the only one thinking “we ought to . . .”
We’ll be dreaming, for sure. But we’ll also be grounding our dreams in some tough-minded and practical plans of action. I am praying for a special release of the Holy Spirit through this Future Search process, to make World Vision more effective as we participate in God’s mission in the world.

Wearing the Brand With Pride

Country Road. Judy gave me a “Country Road” denim shirt for my birthday. I now have one “Country Road” shirt. And I wear it as a statement, along with my R.M. Williams moleskins.
I love the idea of the Australian bush. I love to wear the clothes. I like to visit the Australian bush. Just so long as I can continue to live in the city.
My choice of casual clothes, at least, reflects my beliefs.
In the same way, Vision For A Better World, is a brand we can wear with pride. It reminds us that we have glimpsed the Kingdom of God, and that we want our work to bear witness to it.
Our vision for a better world is (as I said on the TV special in words not written for me by a script-writer) “a world in which kids don’t die from preventable diseases. It’s a world of God’s peace and love. A world of fairness and justice. It’s a vision of the hungry with enough food, and meaningful jobs for people who want to work to support their families. It’s our vision for a better world.”
Of course, there is much more to say about our mission. There are important ideas like empowerment, transformation, holism. No one statement is intended to say it all.
But Vision For A Better World (what the marketers call a “branding” statement) is a pretty fine statement about what makes World Vision unique.
Graeme Irvine, our international president, has adopted this phrase for the book he is currently writing about World Vision.

I Believe

At the Latin America Director’s Conference I was asked to make “a summary closing speech.” A Big Ask. Forty people had been talking for a week, and I was supposed to say something meaningful and “a bit inspirational” in ten minutes.
I don’t know if anyone was inspired, but I decided to share some of my beliefs. Here they are.
I Believe:
in God's faithfulness;
in God's mission in the world. He acts in the world. God is working his purpose out as year succeeds to year.
that God invites us to join him in his mission. It is a gracious invitation. We have done nothing to deserve it. And we can do nothing to deserve it.
God does not really need us to participate in his mission. I must believe that, since I believe God is all-powerful. Yet, despite his power and his strength, God likes us, he likes me, enough to want us to take part in his mission with him.
that World Vision is part of God's mission in the world.
that there is a lot of wisdom in World Vision, sufficient wisdom for any task to which God calls us;
that World Vision's wisdom does not reside in one person's head, nor in one place, nor in one structure. Everyone has wisdom. And everyone has some wisdom that someone else does not have.
that we are inventing a new World Vision in which we can begin to tap this vast reservoir of wisdom.
that the world is changing fast. Too fast. In my own country, I am told that 70% of the jobs we shall be doing in the year 2010 have not yet been invented. How can I plan for a world which has not yet been invented?
that a fast-changing world requires our strategic planning to be more about releasing the wisdom of the organisation to apply itself in real time to real day to day problems, than about writing long range plans which gather dust.
that the task of leaders in the future will be more about empowering staff to act, than about telling them what to do.
that the task of leaders in the future will be more about holding people accountable for results, than about checking whether they are doing things right.
that the task of leaders in the future will be more about alignment with vision and values, than about adherence to policies and procedures.
that success comes from obedience to God.
that obedience means living transcendentally in the mundane, and common-place things of life.
that lunch can be as transcendental as liturgy; that accounting can be as transcendental as communion; that work can be worship.
that we are on the right track.
that God is working his purpose out in World Vision.
God has not felt World Vision is ready yet for some of his answers. Patience is a virtue.
all virtue comes from God. Therefore, I am patient.
Grandmothers have special wisdom which must be respected.
that Latin American men will soon learn to say "brothers and sisters" instead of just "brothers".
that life begins at 40.
that God will honour our work this week
that his Kingdom is glimpsed in our ministry
that God will bless us and keep us
that he will make his face to shine upon us, and lift his countenance upon us,
that he will give us His peace.