Today, we’ll pick up by discussing the question that ended last week’s post: Why are ambiguity and uncertainty in the foundations of the orphan care movement not good? And what can we realistically do about it?
Ambiguity and uncertainty lead to a lot of miscommunication, dysfunction, in-fighting, and arguments–most of which wouldn’t happen if we actually took the time to define our terms before having a conversation. I firmly believe that most of the arguments I’ve heard at orphan care conferences over the past few years involved people who agreed on a whole lot more than they thought they did, but they were using different vocabularies.
That needs to change.
But it won’t change on its own.
It was these ill-defined terms and success measures that gave me the impetus a few years ago to begin the process that led to the book, In Pursuit of Orphan Excellence. As a lawyer by trade, I had a hard time going to conferences and seeing that too many people were leaving discouraged and frustrated because we simply were speaking different languages and failed to have common measures of success. The book started as a simple effort to provide a glossary of terms and it turned into an attempt to provide a starting point for a conversation amongst our orphan care movement to commonly define our terms and success measures. It’s not a “how-to” book, but the start of a conversation about how everyone can better work together to seek to love orphaned and vulnerable children as God loves them.
To maximize our efficiency and effectiveness, everyone involved in orphan care needs to do a few things with intentionality:
- We need to actually get together and develop a common vocabulary.
- Then, we need to sit down and talk with each other about what we agree on–which I believe is way more than we disagree on–and hopefully work through any disagreements we have. Doing these things will help us to work together more effectively and efficiently.
- Then, whether we agree on the “how”, we need to take the time to figure out our common, unified, ultimate goals that we will strive for together.
In orphan care, team members are spread out around the world and are doing a lot of different things. Field workers, adoptive parents, foster parents, people working to strength families and disciple men, people working to re-unify families, people working with orphanages and orphan care communities, people fighting against trafficking, mentoring organizations, prayer warriors, and a whole lot of others working the front lines and “off the field.” It is an extremely diverse and far-reaching team with a lot of different organizations and people from different cultures, demographics, and backgrounds.
Because of this, we really need to be careful about how we define our terms, measure our success, and unify our efforts together.
At worst, we’ll have a bunch of confused people and organizations fighting amongst each other, distracting each other from the complex and huge amount of work before us, and potentially negating the effect of any work that we’re doing.
So let’s avoid disaster and start defining our terms and success measures together.
Are you with me? If you are, I’d love to see some comments about how we can get where we need to be.