Wet Feet Leaders

“Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away…” (Joshua 3:15-16).

The children of Israel wandered 40 years in the wilderness longing for the land flowing with milk and honey. They arrived at the Jordan River during flood season to face one final test before entering the Promised Land. Joshua and Caleb were the only adults who had crossed through the Red Sea. To everyone else, leaving Egypt was a distant memory; this was their Red Sea moment. The Lord instructed the priests who were carrying the Ark of the Covenant to step into the river. Immediately, the water from upstream stopped flowing and stood up in a heap (Joshua 3:16). This amazing miracle teaches four fundraising principles.

Follow God’s Lead
The Lord led Israel through the desert with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. At the Jordan, the Lord reassured Joshua that he would guide their next steps, “since you have never been this way before” (Joshua 3:4). Israel’s experiences illustrate our Christian walk as the Holy Spirit guides our every step. The same goes for your nonprofit organization. Did you seek God’s wisdom when you wrote your strategic plan or are you leaning on your own human understanding?

Follow the Leaders
God instructed the priests to step into the water by faith. Every capital campaign requires leaders to take the first step. Mike, a board member, made his $250,000 pledge with this stipulation, “I will only give if this project moves forward.” While Mike’s potential gift was appreciated, he was unwilling to get his feet wet. Board members and key donors must lead by example and give generously to your vision. Some projects never start because: (1) no one is willing to make the lead gift and/or, (2) no one is willing to lead the fundraising effort.

Follow Through
The priests stood in the middle of the river on dry ground waiting until everyone had crossed over. Your job as a fundraiser is to motivate everyone in your constituency to join your effort. You must tell convincing stories of why your promised land is so desirable. Donors need a reason to follow you into uncharted territory. Share your compelling story with passion and be patient while people respond. The priests waited for everyone—the early adopters, the early majority, the late majority, and the laggards.

Follow Up
This miracle was only the beginning. God planned to drive out the “Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites” (Joshua 3:10). Your campaign is hopefully the first of many to come. Successful campaigns build your donor base and your confidence for next time. Listen to your major donors for what they want to accomplish next.

Response: Father, thank you for the leaders in our ministry who are willing to step up and make a difference.

Think About This: Sometimes, it seems that everyone is waiting for someone else to make the first move. Encourage your major donors to step out in faith and become “wet feet” leaders.

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