Thursday, August 24, 2006

When Values Are Put to the Test

Many organizations have corporate values. Personally, I am a big fan of the practice and think them to be essential for determining the appropriate means by which a ministry will carry out its God-given mandate. Pragmaticism, a hallmark of many mission organizations, is an insufficient basis from which to operate. Noble ends require noble means.

The Voice of the Martyrs adopted a set of core values a number of years ago here in Canada (click here for a summary) and while they require some refreshing and reiteration now that our ministry has grown and developed, these values remain valid and effective. It is common for us to refer to them in decision-making, which is as it ought to be.

One value that we have found a continuiing challenge to live by is that of practicing servanthood to the persecuted church by serving according to their expressed needs and not according to our predetermined agenda. Recently, we were requested by one of our partners in south Asia to consider renewing a project that we were not terribly enthusiatic about any longer. As we gauged it against others that we were involved in and compared it to our priorities, it no longer seemed to be a terribly good "fit" for us.

As I was enjoying my morning coffee with the newspaper earlier this week, the thought crossed my mind that we were inadvertantly at risk of violating one of our core values in regards to this project. It was an uncomfortable thought and I realized that we needed to re-examine this project accordingly. This is not to say that our own priorities as a mission have no input in the decision, nor that such priorities are inappropriate. But we need to weigh them with the priorities of our partners whom we have committed to serve and allow their priorities to have a predominant voice.

It is far easier to function from the basis that we in North America know the best way to minister, according to projects that appeal to donors, coincide to strengths of our staff, are consistent to what we have done in the past, or fit our corporate comfort zones. It is quite another to serve consistently according to stated values.

No comments: