Some of you may have heard or read about Focus on the Family reducing its budget by $27 million for the upcoming year. Of course, we’re hardly alone. Nearly every ministry, organization and corporation in America has been forced to deal squarely with today’s challenging economic times.
In order to balance the books, we’ve trimmed 13% of our staff, which means we’ll be saying good-bye to 110 of our friends and colleagues in these coming days and weeks. It’s a sad time. Each and every team member here at Focus invests their heart and soul in the great work of this organization.
It may sound like a cliché, but it’s true: People don’t come here to make a career, but instead to answer God’s call.
Of course, these staff adjustments were made and bathed in prayer. The decisions were also made in light of Focus’ core mission and competencies, meaning there were only minimal reductions in such key efforts as the daily radio broadcast, website content and resources for couples and parents.
Nevertheless, won’t you please pray for these fine women and men who will soon be leaving us? Would you believe that twenty of them voluntarily offered to give up their positions? The other 90 team members took the news graciously and gracefully. I think that says a lot about the caliber and character of the staff serving behind the scenes of this ministry.
It also stands in stark contrast to the prevailing wisdom of the culture.
From a worldly perspective, there is uncertainty at every turn. From Wall Street to Main Street there is a growing sense of anxiety and fear among our people.
I see it. I feel it. You do, too.
But what to do about it?
If my life has taught me anything, it’s that periods of uncertainty, though tough, are usually my greatest periods of growth. Instead of leaning on my own capabilities, I’ve been more apt to rely on God.
In other words, my weaknesses actually become my strengths.
Another observation, though something that is as much a word of warning as anything:
Uncertainty also has a habit of breeding and encouraging fear, not faith. We become tentative and cautious, afraid of stirring things up and, presumably, making a bad situation worse. We assume a bunker and hunker down mentality. We’re less inclined to take calculated risks and more likely to play it safe. In essence, we become a shell of the person God intends for us to be.
But where fear paralyzes, faith liberates.
I wonder if you’ve found yourself retreating lately, putting projects and decisions on hold until things seem more certain and predictable? Most people who wait to jump in the hope of better conditions very often wind up not jumping at all.
One of the things I’m most excited about is the energy and enthusiasm of the team here at Focus on the Family. Although we must face economic realities, we’re looking to the future with great hope and anticipation. We’ve regrouped, not retreated.
Millions of you are listening to our radio broadcast and visiting this website each week. We’re making contact with as many as 8,000 families per day through mail, phone calls, e-mail and in-person visits. Our counseling department is busier than it has ever been.
We are committed to making the very best use of the sacrificial gifts entrusted to our care. Although it’s painful to make staff adjustments, our success has never been measured by the number of our team members but instead by the number of people our team members help.
At the risk of overstating the current conditions here at the ministry, I’d like to share one final thought. Its applicability extends far beyond these walls and our small part in the Lord’s larger story.
One of George Washington’s favorite plays was Joseph Addison’s Cato. He went to see it numerous times and even had it performed for his troops at Valley Forge. There is a line within the dialogue that not only Washington, but John Adams, regularly quoted:
“‘Tis not in mortals to command success, But we’ll do more…we’ll deserve it.”
Such a line perfectly sums up not only the ministry of Focus on the Family, but your life and mine. Theologically speaking, we don’t “deserve” anything. We’re all sinners, saved by grace. But I pray that we’re worthy of our mission and respective callings.
I’ll play my part; you play yours, and regardless of the outcome, let’s trust and know that the Lord remains in full and absolute control.
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