In my book The Courage Factor, I share a Bible passage that changed my life – the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14:
“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants, and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, each according to his ability.” (ESV)
The passage spoke to me. For in it, I saw that going on a life journey—having an ambitious vision—requires courage.
In 2005, it took all the courage I could muster to set such a vision...
In 2005, it took all the courage I could muster to set such a vision: raise $1 billion by 2026. It would be achieved by helping clients inspire their givers through the Westfall Gold major donor model.
First some background. In 2001. Chris Crane, a dear friend and charitable donor, suggested I package the model and make it available to other ministries. I was floored.
Chris’ argument was: “If you do this, what will it look like in five years?” He took a napkin and wrote: “$20 million in donated income, helping five different ministries.” He said, “If this happens, how would that make you feel?”
“Ecstatic!” I replied.
He said, “Then your decision is made. Go do it!”
Taking a Risk
First though, I had to take a risk by leaving a comfortable job. But I placed my trust in God and did what he called me to. Then I had to raise $20 million doing it!
When this happened in 2005, that larger vision I mentioned was set for me by another friend, Kelly Curry—$1 billion! It was a God-sized vision, fueled by the thought of all the amazing ministries I could help.
It took 14 years to raise $500 million. An equal sum would still have to be raised!
Saturday night, Nov. 9, 2019 at the Montage Palmetto Bluff. My wife, Kim, and I, along with our friend Kimarie Page, Vice President Convoy of Hope, were in the tally room counting gifts to Convoy that weekend.
Halfway through the count, it happened! We went over $1 billion. It was awe-inspiring, and seven years ahead of schedule!
Ever since, I’ve been greatly moved by how God has used me and the Westfall Gold team. Helping change up to a billion lives for Christ is a huge privilege.
Then, just as before, I was asked: “What’s next?”
Our new vision is $5 billion by 2030.
Sound impossible? As Christian leaders, we are all charged with visions that may seem so.
In considering your vision, what could you achieve? Then go another step. How much more would you have to do, that it can only be accomplished with God’s help? And how much faith does that require?
Frankly, I’m a bit intimidated by our $5 billion goal. Especially since, right after setting it, the entire country shut down. (Our model involves a major donor live experience.)
But life has taught me one true thing. If we have faith in our vision, we can achieve it. If God wants it done, he will make it happen. My experiences can translate for any leader.
Shaping Your Vision
In shaping your vision, do some serious prayer.
In shaping your vision, do some serious prayer. Invite God into that conversation. Take a hard look at your ministry’s mission statement and core competencies. Then ask yourself these three questions, which will help you frame a courageous vision:
- What would happen if we set our vision at 10 times current output five years from now?
- What would we have to do differently?
- What would we have to stop/start/keep doing?
Everything must be on the table. As you begin that process, there is another critical stage. Ask yourself one more question:
- How have I been uniquely created by God, and how has God uniquely equipped me with his talents?
Why is that important? You are chosen to steward your ministry’s mission. Remember that your talents matter to its success and complement its vision.
Recall the meaning of the Parable of the Talents, with yourself in mind. Who is the original owner of the property in the story? It is God. Who is the steward/servant of that property? You.
You have been entrusted with “property” of God (your talents) to realize the vision of your ministry. Embrace it—heart and soul!
Then, as I have, find your courage and enter into his joy.
A well-known expert in philanthropy, Bob Westfall founded Westfall Gold, a fundraising firm that has raised over $1 billion for over 100 ministries, universities, and other nonprofits. His personal mission is to inspire everyone to live out courageous generosity in order to experience true joy and fulfillment. In his latest book, The Courage Factor (Leafwood Publishers, 2020), he shares insights and stories that reveal this truth.
CLATV: Hear a Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast interview of Bob Westfall on "How to Raise More Money, Create a Culture of Generosity, and Why Giving Can Grow During Tough Economic Times." - LISTEN >>