So far the pre-conference sessions for The Justice Conference have been amazing! Eugene Cho will be speaking at the main sessions this weekend at The Justice Conference. I am excited for this pre-taste of what is to come for the main sessions. He is the pastor of Quest Church in Seattle, WA. He also started One Days Wage, a non-profit combating poverty.
Here are seven principles he gave for beginning in the process of working on social justice issues:
1. Shut-up, pray, and listen. This is not said disrespectfully, but in our world today we are bombarded by so much noise. The discipline of quiet and listening are two of the most neglected disciplines today.
Don’t go to fast. If we are seeking the heart of God wthe heart of God we will weep over the suffering of others just like Nehemiah. This was a very helpful piece of advice: “I want time to be that what tests the authenticity of your passion.” Have a six month waiting period. Prayer sustains for the long-haul.
2. During that time of prayer, listening, and fasting will you be willing to ask the hard question? There are so many important causes. God’s heart is vast and deep. We need the entire church to come together on these issues. Answer “Why are you interested in doing it?” Starting a cause or non-profit is the equivalent of being in a band in the mid-80’s and 90’s. When you have an idea or conviction, stop the urge to tell the whole world. You don’t have to broadcast everything to the world via Facebook, social networking, etc. Only tell a few people. Have accountability, prayer, and wisdom from those you trust around you. God never speaks his vision in isolation. This contradicts our lone ranger mentality.
3. Be smart. We might be living in the most overrated generation. The access we have to information is good but we are not going deep. When is the last time you read a book deeply and thoughtfully from cover to cover? Whatever it is that you’re passionate about, be an expert in those things. Do you know enough about your topic to talk about the philosophy, theology, and policies surrounding your issue. If you’re not willing to become an expert: stop, don’t do it. Are you willing to be smart? Are you willing to read? Are you willing to become an expert? This takes a large investment of time.
4. When you have a passion, conviction, an idea: “Passion, Vision, and Mission.” Does this aline with your passion? “I’ve heard a myth that if two Christians marry it will be a “Christian marriage.” But we are doing a huge damage if we aren’t telling people how hard it is. It would be irresponsible for me to tell you everything will be great. It is going to be hard and messy. There is a cost. Have you counted the cost? I believe everyone likes the idea of compassion and justice.” What is the vision of your cause or project?
5. This is one of the most lacking pieces for people with ideas and vision: you need a strategic plan. The good news is that you don’t have to have an MBA…the great thing is that, like Nehemiah (who’s profession before was the king’s cupbearer), you can put together a strategic plan even when you don’t have everything together. Your plan will change and evolve. Use prayer and other’s wisdom to put together that plan. Get away from the noise and write what God has put on your heart.
6. Visions cost money! Never ask people to do what you’re not willing to do. For Cho it was a three year process to invest all of his resources into starting his non-profit One Day’s Wages. The good news is that your most important aspect is not financial capital. The most significant capital you have is social capital. When you have an idea you need to list all the connections, friendships, and resources out on the table. You probably have a deeper network than you ever imagined.
7. This is the most beautiful and the most hard: executing your plan. Good ideas don’t change the world, it’s people with ideas that are committed, tenacious, and passionate. This is what separates ideas that are nebulous and the ones that take shape and empower and inform.