Five Smooth Stones for MPD Coaches
Roger Hamilton, MPD Director
We’re all familiar with the biblical story of the young boy, David, who did—with a simple sling and five smooth stones—a job others wouldn’t do. As I coach missionaries in funding, I’ve found some “stones” to be helpful in framing my talks with them. The stones give me a plan for talking about money, which for staff and supervisor alike, can be uncomfortable at first.
Why is it important to talk about money with staff? When we don’t talk regularly about money, it inevitably becomes a long, painful, emotional conversation with serious consequences. When we regularly discuss money, it becomes a normal, emotionally neutral part of our ministry, with problems that are small and manageable instead of the scary, undefeatable giant.
I believe the order of these is just as important as the stones themselves. Our friends expect us to focus on problem solving and the nuts and bolts of the funding plan. They expect us to focus on what isn’t going well, rather than celebrate with them how God is providing. Yet, like David, who had the fortitude to face Goliath because of his faith in God, we too must remember (and help others remember) that MPD starts with God’s call on our lives and His promise to provide—faith—then moves to the mechanics of the plan.
PROMISES. What has God been saying to you from His Word? We all need to be reminded MPD is a spiritual exercise that requires a deep sense of abiding in Christ: “…for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
PROGRESS. What are you encouraged about? Ask staff for encouraging stories of appointments and phone calls that have gone well. How is God showing His amazing faithfulness in their funding efforts?
PEOPLE. Who can help you right now (e.g., your staff team, anchor partners who can refer others, etc.)? What are creative ways we can advance in MPD together? Since MPD can be intimidating and lonely, encourage your staff to make phone calls on the same night from the same room or meet weekly to discuss progress. You could even use these five points as an outline for your gatherings.
PROBLEMS. Where are you stuck? Now that you’ve emphasized the positives, your staff will undoubtedly welcome your help with roadblocks and obstacles, such as not enough names and too much “phone tag.”
PLAN. What details will you work on in the next month? This area will require the most diligence from you as a coach. There are many good tools to use: monthly reports, three-year tracking reports, funding progress reports, staffs’ list of names, and individual funding plans. You don’t need to overwhelm them with details, but often a major breakthrough comes from identifying a trend or tendency uncovered in a report.
You also may want to talk through their funding presentation in detail (or better yet, go on a face-to-face appointment with them). Is their “ask” too vague or complicated? Are they telling vague or uninspiring stories? Are they doing all the talking, instead of hearing the stories and concerns of their friend?
David was uncomfortable, unwilling, and unable to take on Goliath wearing Saul’s armor. In the same way, many of us avoid conversations with staff about their funding because our own view of MPD is too constricted and confined. We don’t have to feel comfortable, competent, or even confident in our own funding to be an effective coach.
Give these “five smooth stones” a try in your next conversation about funding with your staff. I’d love to hear how it goes!
Contact Roger Hamilton at firstname.lastname@example.org