Is it Worth It?

My clock read 2:12 am as I start this article.  Yesterday was a butt buster day in the nonprofit sector for me.  The day started off well.  I got up early and walked for 30 minutes as I try to make progress on one of my New Year’s resolutions of being healthier in 2021.  The fact that it was 29 degrees but felt like 21 degrees made it seem like an even more significant win.

The day itself was one of those project-to-project days.  The morning consisted of administrative tasks and a couple of meetings.  I like that kind of mornings, productivity without a lot of drama.  My college age son came by for lunch and took me out for Thai food.  We talked about all kinds of stuff that he is working on as he gets ready to return to campus next week.

More work on a strategic initiative of our organization in the afternoon and I must admit that I am feeling pretty good about the day. Late afternoon culminates in a meeting with some clients that really goes well, and I am feeling like a nonprofit stud.

Then the call.

If you have been in the nonprofit sector for any time at all.  You know about “the call”.  There is trouble in paradise.  And just like that the whole day “feels” like a disaster.  You try to spin it.  But, in your heart of hearts you begin to ask- Is it worth it?

Maybe it is just me, but I do not think so.  For nonprofit leaders, it is our sense of calling to be a help to a world gone mad that motivates us to be a difference maker.  But as we roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty, we get our hearts broken all the time.  Oh, no one may know except maybe our family and closest friends.  But the danger of having a big heart is that it is easily broken.  And unfortunately, that is to be expected. 

There are so many hurting and broken people and the nonprofits courageously enter the fray of trying to alleviate some of that pain.  And nonprofit leaders are at the tip of the spear.  We get to see, hear, taste, and feel the angst of our world.  As shrapnel flies unfortunately, we get wounded from time to time.  And we begin to wonder- Is it worth it?

God only knows how many problems you have attempted to solve between 2:00 and 4:00 in the morning. 

For 20+ years of my working life, I have labored in the nonprofit sector.  You would think that it gets easier and that my skin would have gotten thicker by now.  You would think that “the call” would be easier.  But it does not get easier.  I think it is just part of the game.  Those of us who have decided to make a living by helping others are susceptible to the broken heart.

But we also get to experience the thrill of making a difference.  For every “call” there are hours upon hours of making a difference.  For most of us we must learn to take the good and the bad and hope and pray that the balance leans toward being a positive change agent to those around us.

Is it worth it?

Yeah, I think it is.  I know for sure that I love the idea of trying to be helpful to others in my little world.  Tomorrow (actually today, I guess) will be a brand new day full of wonderful possibilities.  Maybe I won’t get a “call” today or maybe I just won’t answer my phone.

Thanks for all you do!  The world is a better place because of you.

Tim Howington is Co-Founder of NWA Gives and Executive Vice President of Freedom 5:one Ministries.  He lives in Rogers, AR with his wife Terri and their college aged son

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