That Feeling of Vujà De

“When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before” (Joshua 3:3-4).

Déjà vu is a French term for that intuitive feeling you have when you see or experience something that’s familiar, like you’ve already seen or experienced it before. Organizational guru, Karl Weick describes Vujà De as the feeling that, “I’ve never been here before, I have no idea where I am, and I have no idea who can help me.”

Joshua had to feel this as he prepared to enter the Promised Land. Moses had died and the Lord had given him the mantle of leadership for the next phase in Israel’s journey. Perhaps God is calling you to a new ministry or to lead your current ministry into uncharted territory. Learn these three lessons from Joshua.

1. I’ve Never Been Here Before. You may be a rookie with no prior experience to draw on for your new assignment, or you may be a veteran with years of battle scars. Either way you must view your opportunity with fresh eyes. Some people boast of their fundraising experiences saying, “I have twenty years in development.” That may be true, but this is a chance to walk by faith, not to replay the greatest hits of the past. Determine to learn and grow personally and professionally through each new challenge.

2. I Have No Idea Where I Am. In the dark ages before GPS, we used to print off donor trip itineraries. These pre-phone maps would show your destination, but not where you were. Now, the little blue dot pinpoints your location. The same is true when it comes to your fundraising strategies. We know what the final goal is, but we are not sure where we are or what next steps to take. Consider conducting a development audit to assess your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges to get an accurate understanding of where you are.

3. I Have No Idea Who Can Help Me. Joshua didn’t have Karl Weick’s problem. The Lord had promised to help him, “No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Joshua 1:5). The Lord also promises to be with you as you start your new ministry. Solomon taught, “Plans are established by seeking advice; so if you wage war, obtain guidance” (Proverbs 20:18). As you begin your new assignment, seek the counsel of a trusted friend, another ministry colleague, or a fundraising professional. You’ll be glad you did.

Response: Father, I thank you that even though I’m facing something I’ve never faced before, you are in complete control and will guide my steps.

Think About This: Am I trusting in my fundraising experience to bring me success, or am I trusting in God? Who will get the glory if you succeed?

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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