How to work out God’s plan for you

Working out what God’s plan for me is, is proving to be one of the greatest challenges of my life. Perhaps it will be my life’s work in itself, and when I look back at my life, I’ll know what God’s plans for me were.

I do know that He plans for me to work for Him, it’s more the specifics I’m struggling with, and as He reveals more and more to me, I learn more about how we can discern what His plans and purposes for us are.

I don’t pretend to know even 10% of how to do this, but I offer some insight.

Inspired by some teaching from the Word for Today (an awesome resource from UCB), entitled ‘Working for God – His Way’ (….created in Christ Jesus to do good works.. Eph 2:10), here are my thoughts.

For the most part, we have to wait to find out what God’s plans for us are. God doesn’t tell us immediately, usually because we’re not ready. Readiness often comes in stages  – and we have to complete tasks (or trials – see James 1) along the journey, to be readied, prepared. Sometimes those trials make no sense, either – remember the Karate Kid? Daniel waxing the cars and painting the fence? He had no idea that they’d create instinctive martial arts moves in him. So it is with us. When God’s ready to tell you how he wants to use you, he will. It will be very clear – even though it may look impossible – that’s when he asks (& requires us) to trust him – because he’s dealing with the bits we can’t see or understand how to accomplish – we’re only a small part of his greater plan.
OK – does that all sound a bit intangible and (perhaps) far off? Remember God is patient and wants to grow that in us…
Here’s a way to find out what it is he’s calling you to do…
When God’s character and your passions collide you find your mission.
God wants us to love each other. He wants us to feed the hungry, clothe the poor and care for the broken-hearted (Matthew 25:34-36). He wants us to love mercy, do what is right and walk humbly with him (Micah 6:8). All of which is worship. All of which glorify him. – these are his standards, his character.
What are you passionate about? Whom do you care for? What is it that you’re drawn to? Where do your passions and his character meet in the middle?
He speaks to us: the voice in our head, strong feelings, words from the bible, words from other people. We can discern his voice from these ‘channels’ by judging them by the standards I’ve listed above.
And we have to take action – to do things, serve others, as above. We have to step out in faith and try things out – to see where they take us and find out where God leads us.
Hope that helps somehow.
Have fun finding out.

Caring and sharing – real fundraising knowledge

First day of the Institute of Fundraising’s London region conference and again my head is as full as my notebook.

Having previously attended the Institute of Fundraising’s National Convention, I had very high expectations of the seminar content and delivery.

I’ve not been disappointed. Rob Woods’ opening plenary, ‘Get more of what you want’ set the tone with a motivational challenge to become great at what we do, by breaking out of old, personal beliefs.

He cited the example of a struggling major donor fundraiser, still believing (as his parents had told him at age six) that it was wrong to talk to strangers and that talking about money was impolite (familiar?). We were encouraged that once-appropriate beliefs could be changed. If we were prepared to be open and believe…

Being open to new beliefs was a great footing to step forward from. In the following Masterclass on Integration, led by Liz Tait (Battersea Dogs and Cats home), Lucy Gower (NSPCC), Nick Burne (Think) and Max du Bois (Spencer du Bois) I was particularly challenged about brand being coherent not consistent (no more brand police), replacing channel thinking with touchpoint thinking (actually I was more affirmed by this) and encouraged by the benefits that integration can bring (however painful getting there may be).

Afternoon seminars covering ‘Giving locally’ and the opportunities presented by community event fundraising continued to fill up pages in my notebook and I could stay up all night expounding upon the ideas I’ve come away with (except I should sleep before Day 2!), so I’ll get to my point.

There’s a big difference between an educational gathering of commercial organisations and the fundraising community – those that care, really share. The @IofLondon conference’s content is high quality and leading edge, delivered by experienced fundraising practitioners who know what they’re talking about. But more than that, it’s honest and non-competitive. People’s agendas aren’t self-serving, so the information that’s shared is real and credible.

And what did I take away from that? The truth. What really works and what doesn’t. Honest stories of real challenges, failures and successes – real information and practical experience that could deliver more successful fundraising in the future.

For charities and their beneficiaries, what gets better than that?

Life saving fundraising for the homeless – The Big Sleep Out

It’s time to put my money where my mouth is.

Ok, it’s actually time to persuade other people to put their money where my mouth is.

Although I’ve been working for, volunteering for and giving to charities for the last six years, I’m ashamed to admit that this is the first time I’ve formally done anything that requires me to personally fundraise. How bad is that?

This year I felt inspired to jump in with both feet and join in a fundraising event for a charity I’ve been involved with for the last four years – Off the Fence, who serve those most at risk in Brighton and Hove. There’s is a ministry of social action and Christian outreach, primarily working with the homeless, vulnerable women and young people.

Off the Fence Homeless

This is Steve. Earlier this year I was involved in producing some promotional material for the charity, including producing publicity photos. We had to use models for some shots, but this guy volunteered to be a face of the charity’s work. He’s for real and so is this image – in fact, this is how he has to spend a lot of his time. Outside, in all weathers, with little more than a sleeping bag, some cardboard, a doorway and a bottle of booze to protect him from the elements.

That’s why I’m helping. Sleeping bags like that one save lives. So, to raise awareness and money (to buy and distribute sleeping bags to guys like Steve) I’m taking part in Off the Fence’s Big Sleep Out on December 16th this year. With my wife, we’re aiming to raise over £1,000 – if we do raise over £1,000, I’ll go through the night without a sleeping bag – after all that’s what many have to do.

If you’d like to know more…

Read more about the Big Sleep Out

Read more about Off the Fence

Sponsor me here – Just £10 can save a life

I’ll let you know how it goes!