Makin’ Bricks Without Straw

That same day Pharaoh gave this order to the slave drivers and overseers in charge of the people: “You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw. But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don’t reduce the quota. They are lazy; that is why they are crying out, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God.’” Exodus 5:6-8

Making bricks by hand in the heat of the day is hard work, but it’s even more difficult when you don’t have all the resources you need. Pharaoh was angry with Moses and Aaron because they asked to go worship God. In retaliation for their impertinence, he took his anger out on the children of Israel by taking away the materials they needed to make bricks but keeping the production at the same level.

Unfortunately, Pharaoh’s rash decision sounds like some dysfunctional nonprofit organizations. More than one executive director has slashed the development department budget and at the same time demanded the team raise the same amount as last year, or even more. Here are three observations if you face a similar situation.

• Value Your Team. Sadly, the morale in some development departments has been completely destroyed by bosses who don’t care about their people. It may have worked for Pharaoh (for a while), but he’s not your role model. The atmosphere you create in your workplace has a direct impact on productivity, your ability to retain talent, and the bottom line. Treat your team with love, respect, and dignity, and that’s how they’ll treat you back.

• Manage Expectations. It’s good to have goals and even to challenge your team with stretch goals. But if your team consistently falls short because the bar’s set too high, their morale will plummet. They’ll feel like they’re underperforming, even though they probably aren’t. It takes money to make money. You can’t expect to cut your sales force and then double your sales. Even worse, if you’re the boss and you’re not raising money yourself, you’re part of the problem.

• Consider Your Options. Pharaoh accused the children of Israel of being lazy. Of course, they weren’t lazy but some on your team might be. Patently give struggling team members training, guidance, encouragement, and accountability. Help them be the best they can be.

As an employee you also have options. Peter instructs us, “Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God” (1 Peter 2:18-19). If you’ve lost hope, maybe the Lord will set you free and lead you to a new “milk and honey” ministry.

Response: Father, our financial pressures have stressed our team. Give me wisdom to speak “only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).

Think About This: “Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven” (Colossians 4:1).

Have a Spirit-led fundraising week,


Ron Haas has served the Lord as a pastor, the vice president of advancement of a Bible college, a Christian foundation director, a board member and a fundraising consultant. He’s authored two books: Ask for a Fish – Bold Faith-Based Fundraising and Simply Share – Bold, Grace-Based Giving. He regularly presents fundraising workshops at ministry conferences and has written fundraising articles for At the Center magazine and Christian Leadership Alliance’s Outcomes magazine.

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