Editor’s note: John Hau has served on staff with Power to Change Students for 12 years, working on campus in Vancouver; leading our intern program, new staff training and development; and serving on the National Leadership Team of our ministry. He recently finished his season working on staff and wrote some reflections on his experience working in ministry. We share them below.
Two conversations with donors to our ministry illustrate a major change I now see in myself after 12 years of ministry. God was clearly using my ministry partners beyond financial giving, to be a steward of deeper grace in my life.
In one conversation, I talked with an older lady I’d known since I was a child, and she asked me, “Oh Jonathan, how’s your work with…” and then she named an organization that I thought was doing inferior work to what we were doing in P2C.
And I said, “I don’t work for [this other organization] – I work for Power to Change.” And she said, “Well, that’s fine…whoever it is…I can’t keep these things straight. You know we just love you and are proud of you.” I remember thinking, “How can you be proud of me if you don’t know which organization I work for, nevermind what I do?”
In the second conversation, I vividly remember reporting our ministry statistics to a friend and donor, which I thought were impressive, trying to make a case that we were a good investment. I’ll never forget what he said to me, “I don’t really care about the numbers, I care about how you are doing. I want to pray for you.”
At the time, these conversations just seemed odd, but the Holy Spirit used them as seeds for change in my heart. I didn’t really have a category for them because, even though I was preaching a gospel of grace, my identity was based around my ability to perform at a top level in my ministry, which I also thought was world class.
Because of my emphasis on “calling” in the ministry fundraising process, I came out feeling like I needed to “earn my keep” by working a lot or being really busy with ministry. And I saw God do amazing things through the ministry I was involved in: quite a few people came to faith, our ministry was growing, we were looked at as leaders evangelistically in the places I was ministering.
However, upon later reflection, I can see how this attitude spilled over into my relationship with ministry partners and co-labourers where I felt like I needed to prove myself or that I was either competing against other people or ministries. And I think it was the paradigm with which I approached God, believing in grace, yet finding my identity in performance.
One of the major areas I’ve grown in the last 12 years is a deeper recognition that God doesn’t partner with me because I’m great or better than others, he partners with me because he loves to let his children tell his story. In other words, it’s through grace that he chooses to work through me. Ironically, God used fundraising, the most personally difficult part of my ministry, to minister his grace to me in a more full way.
Again, I haven’t arrived in this truth. I think there is still a strong competitive streak in me and I often mess up the order of reciprocity as a response to God’s grace. But as I look to my next vocation, I’m much less motivated to try and find “the best organization” so I can feel like I’m a winner. My experience in working with P2C taught me that all organizations are going to be broken in some way. Rather, I’m asking a different set of questions from a fundamentally different reference point. I feel like I have little to prove – I’m okay because God, and my ministry partners, have shown me and my family unconditional love. While I couldn’t see it myself 12 years ago, I am now starting to see myself as my donors did, just as someone who is loved and valuable in Christ.
So it’s new and exciting to be walking into this next step of my journey without asking questions about how this will make me look. I’m open to things I wouldn’t have been in the past and feel free – more free to give without needing to receive back than I was before. To simply invest and live out his story with the gifts I have, wherever that next place is.
I’m so grateful that God, through others in my ministry partnership team, saw value in me and in us, even when I couldn’t see it myself.