The Pause That Refreshes

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When I was teaching my son to drive, I verbally explained to him why I always turn off the radio when backing up: “One of the biggest dangers you face when driving is distraction, and when backing up, it is especially dangerous.”

In our technology age, it is extremely difficult to pause. When we hold staff retreats for our missionaries, we used to “retreat”. The very name suggests “pulling back”. But now it feels more like “working offsite” since we still have phones and laptops; not only are the breaks between sessions different (focus on the device), but even during the sessions many people aren’t paying attention… because the content on their device is subtly more interesting than the content up front.

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We can go work at the office, go to Tim Hortons or go to a retreat centre, but the situation is the same: we do not really pause. I am so guilty of this.

I am constantly reminded of the importance of FOCUS.

Two stories, both related to flying:

  1. In 2006 I was introduced to a powerful new Help software (the same software you now see when you press F1 for help in TNT). I immediately saw the potential of this software for providing help for TNT. On a long flight from Germany to Florida I was able to convert the entire Word-based TNT book into this new software.
  2. In 2011 I needed to fly from Orlando to Little Rock (Arkansas)—about a 2-hour flight if done directly. I was short some frequent flyer miles and Travelocity offered me a longer trip for only a few dollars more. So instead I flew from Orlando to Salt Lake City to Phoenix to Memphis to Little Rock. It was a 12-hour day and was my most productive day of the year.

In partnership development, as we all know too well, it is easy to become distracted. I am amazed at how many undesirable things—like pulling weeds—suddenly become appealing when I should pick up the phone!

This fall I find myself needing to re-evaluate some of things I am doing. And as painful as it is, I have come to realize that there are several positive, helpful, and even enjoyable things that I need to pause from doing.

Like this blog.

After mulling on this thought for several months, I’m pressing the pause button.

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It is certainly not due to lack of enjoyment nor lack of ideas—I have a year of blog posts bouncing around my blog planning spreadsheet.

This fall my ministry is installing a new accounting system, and I have the joy of being the leader of the donation-processing design of this system. Why? Humorously, my “hobby work” on TntConnect led to my becoming the resident expert on how donations flow through our systems!

I have found myself unable to really focus on this project because I have so many other fun, helpful, fascinating, and positive things on my plate. I wish there were things I could give up that I don’t like… but there really aren’t any of those right now. Actually, those I cannot find anyone else to do. 😦

So instead I have had to evaluate some of the things I do like, and ask, “What can I stop doing?” Or, at least pause from doing.

I hope you have found this blog helpful and encouraging. It has always been my aim to foster a positive attitude towards partnership development. TntConnect is really just a tool; the true purpose is to build relationships.

When I’m ready, I’ll come back. But in the meantime, if you need help, please don’t hesitate to … press F1. Enclosed in that help manual is my 16 years of tinkering with TNT.

Hold Fast,

Bob

 

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The day I returned a gift

Well, I confess it wasn’t me who returned it. It was my ministry.

My partner inadvertently sent his donation check to his auto lender and the auto lender’s check to my ministry. And the funny thing is, both companies had the same initials. Since his handwriting was basically unreadable–except for the three capital letters–both recipients thought it was for their company.

But the auto lender took immediate action: “Thank you for the $25. Where is the other $400?”

The really sad thing about this is that I had not thanked the partner for the surprise extra gift of $400, because if I had thanked immediately (like I try to do now), this error may have been resolved more quickly. And I would have shined in the eyes of my partner because I took immediate action.

That was 1994, way before TNT. So I actually did not know about it until I received the paper printout in the mail several weeks after the gift. But even so, I should have called and thanked him as soon as I did know–that extra $400 was about half a month’s pay for me back then!

Point is: One of the major benefits of the Automatic Actions for New Gifts is that it allows me to respond to any unusual activity on the part of my partners.

When we respond promptly to anything unusual, whether it is an extra gift, a special gift, or even a decrease, it says, “I noticed! You matter to me!”

 

Congraduations!

It’s that time of year… graduations abound!

Graduations are a great time to connect with our ministry partners because for those who have teens graduating, it is usually a festive time. There are four common areas with our partners’ children where we try to exert ourselves:

  • Birth of the child (for younger partners)
  • High School Graduations
  • Mission Trip appeals
  • Marriage

As we and our partners walk through life, these tend to come in waves. We don’t see as many births nowadays as we do graduations, for example.

There are other events too, of course, such as college graduation or when a partner’s child has their own child. But I view those as stemming out the relationship I am building with that child. By the time they are graduating from college or having their own children, I need to have a personal relationship with them to consider giving a gift or card.

TntConnect offers a broad range of Dealing With Gifts, including gifts we give to our partners. I use the Present task type to record sending these gifts. If it is for a mission trip, I just write the amount of the gift. If it is for a graduation or marriage we often send a gift card.

The Present task type:

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Recording a graduation gift:

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Recording a gift for a child’s mission trip:

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When we do a graduation gift card, it is usually a token gift of $10 or $15 to a restaurant near them, such as Dairy Queen or Chick-fil-A, or occasionally a retailer like Walmart. And as a general rule, I try to send it as soon as possible after receiving the graduation announcement… to do this I plan ahead with a supply of Congratulations cards and the gift cards I want to use.

Here’s one other thought: When you receive a graduation announcement, you may want to send a separate happy note to the parents too… they got them there! I just thought of that this year. 🙂