Five years ago I had a sense that my organization housed a tremendous amount of untapped potential. But the fullness of that potential would only be unleashed if I could figure out a way to tie my employees’ dreams to initiatives within our ministry.
What might happen if I encouraged them to dream on company time?
I mean, really spend time thinking about their dreams. The ones they would be imagining as they stared out of a coffee shop window on a Saturday while sipping something steamy and sweet. The ones they’d chase if they didn’t need a steady paycheck and insurance.
Granted, their current paycheck came from a job they were passionate about and where they accomplished ministry work they believed in, but in most cases it wasn’t connected to their dreams. I challenged my staff for the next several weeks to take time, two hours out of their 40- hour work week, to dream.
I had no clue how to connect their dreams with their current job. But I wanted to see if they could find the common threads and explore how to weave them together. I suspected there would be both tension and potential doing this exercise. And I was right.
The tension came from having to manage the unrealistic ideas that came from the exercise. But even in those there were usually pieces and parts of employee's’ dreams that could be grafted into their existing jobs, which provided a new sense of excitement and energy.
However, some employees brought ideas to the table after being encouraged to dream that infused such new momentum into Proverbs 31 Ministries, that I can’t imagine where we’d be without having done this exercise.
For example, Not long after I initiated this challenge, our receptionist, Melissa told me her dream was to start an online Bible study/book club. She would choose a book and invite people to join in a 6-week discussion of that topic and the Bible verses contained within each chapter. She would promote it through social media with a goal to sell the books within our ministry’s online bookstore.
Her goal was to have 50 people sign up for her first study. I told Melissa if she doubled that goal to 100 people I’d let her continue to have those two hours a week where she could set aside her receptionist duties and work on it. I honestly thought it was a bit of a long shot that this would actually work. And so did Melissa. But it brought such a renewed sense of excitement and energy to her front desk duties, that regardless of what happened, it was a win.
In the end, Melissa didn’t have 100 people sign up for her online study. She had 2,200 sign up!
That was four years and many studies ago. In 2015 Melissa led 160,000 women from 142 different countries through the Proverbs 31 Ministries online Bible studies. Needless to say, she is no longer our receptionist. She leads a department of four employees and over 100 volunteers. It is the fastest growing area of our ministry and one of the most vital for accomplishing the purposes of our organization.
Indeed, the fullness of the potential in Melissa would never have been realized within our ministry without letting a dream God placed in her heart be explored.
Providing space within our organization to incubate, encourage, and launch this fresh idea increased momentum across our entire organization. Dreams unlock fresh ideas. Fresh ideas unleash potential. Potential nurtured accelerates momentum. Momentum attracts more dreamers with fresh ideas.
In the past four years, it wasn’t just Melissa whose job scope has changed dramatically. So has mine. I’m blown away by what God has entrusted to us. We’ve grown from a staff of six, full-time employees to thirty-six. Our yearly budget has quadrupled. And our ministry’s purpose of helping women connect Biblical truth to their everyday lives has a social media reach of millions.
I wonder how many “Melissas” you might have sitting behind jobs with hopes of one day doing something big tucked in their heart? Don’t let those creative hopes be relegated to Saturday morning lattes. Infuse new life and new potential into Monday morning’s staff meeting by unleashing the potential of a dream.