Numbers Don’t Mean Everything…

Because of what I do for a living (lead a sales team at Darwill ), numbers are a key way I measure the successes (or not) my team is having in a given week or month. I will look at activity such as meetings, quotes etc and eventually I have to look at the sales dollars. Did we hit our goals? Did we cover all of our costs? Are we better than we were last month? Last year? This type of thinking, I am sorry to say, also permeates the non-profit world, whether it’s a church or some other type of organization. My good friend Jeff Klein and I have talked many times over the years about church and ministry and what do you do to measure success in ministry? Butts in the seats? Size of the building? Size of the budget? This is an area of particular weakness for me. I will quickly make assessments on whether a ministry is “good or bad” based upon market place assessments such as size, presentation quality, how leaders appear or present etc. A terrible thing I know…because God does not measure or bless success that way. Whenever Jeff and I start to discuss a ministry objective, we inevitably get to the point where we have to talk about changed hearts and changed lives. Those end up being the measuring sticks for any non-profit or church in God’s eyes and they need to be our measuring sticks too.

At the same time, being good stewards of donations and gifts is an imperative for any non-profit or church. Two sayings that I use in the marketplace often –“activity does not equal accomplishment” and “facts are your friends” do have a place in the non-profit sector. Donors want to know their gifts are bearing fruit and the mission is moving forward. The hard reality is sometimes is that if the “numbers” aren’t there for a non-profit, perhaps God is suggesting a different way to go. One of the things I am learning these days is that I need to get “under the hood” of anything I am trying to measure or assess. Meet the people, understand the mission and really see and feel the difference that the movement is making in both hearts and minds. Looking at the “numbers” and making a judgment (either way) is not fair or accurate.

I have just returned from Kabale Uganda where I spent 10 days with my wife Michele and our MCM Executive Director, Mpeirwe Ivan Twino and I am grateful to say all the “measurables” are there. We have 62 children sponsored (way up over last year) and we had over 180 children and adults (60 last year) attend a belated Christmas party-see the accompanying pictures. I am grateful that the “numbers” are looking good. However, I am even more grateful for the opportunity to meet the people and see and feel the difference the efforts of MCM is making in this small farming community. Our sponsors and donors are making a real difference in this small part of the world and I hope each of them realizes that. Pictures don’t really tell you the whole story-I learned that myself on this trip. So on the outside, in the world’s eyes, MCM is a success-the numbers are up, there are more “butts in the seats”. But the real win is that there is hope in that little village-hope in the hearts of the caregivers and the orphans that they care for-hope for an education, hope for easier access to water, hope for some solar solutions, hope for jobs to provide for their household. Out of that feeling of hope comes changed hearts- the real measuring stick that God uses.