Jena Lee Nardella—Praxis Nonprofit Portfolio Partner
JENA lee NARDELLA EXPLORES THE SOURCE OF our HOPE IN THE FACE OF SETBACKS.
Jena Lee Nardella, the Nonprofit Portfolio Partner for Praxis, began her nonprofit leadership journey as an advocate for the people of East Africa, co-founding and growing a high-impact and high-visibility organization called Blood:Water. In this talk called "Vocation for the Long Haul," she describes what it was like to experience obstacles and failure in parts of her organization's mission—setbacks that her optimism and capability alone could not overcome.
These experiences drove her to wrestle in a new way with the hard questions of mission and purpose. Perhaps the hardest was, "Knowing what I know of the world, with all its brokenness, can I still love the world?"
As we encounter the inevitable setbacks associated with our work, what will give us the hope to stay in it for the long haul?
Jena delivered this talk at the Redemptive Imagination Summit, a gathering of the Praxis community to collaborate on creative responses to cultural, social, and market opportunities.
OPEN IN PRAYER
RECONNECT (10 min)
Since last session, did you commit to implementing a routine sacrifice in some area of your life and work? What is it and how is it going?
WATCH (16 min)
REFLECT (3-5 min)
Spend a couple of minutes in silence, praying and reflecting on the video. Ask participants to jot down questions that were raised, significant points, where they felt encouraged or challenged by the Lord, etc.
DISCUSS (60 min)
1. Jena says that true Kingdom work requires our commitment to the long haul and not the immediate gratification that can be measured in things like Facebook "likes." How does this mentality of committing to something for a long period of time impact your approach to your work?
2. It’s one thing to work hard when you see the fruits of your labor. Was there ever a time when you worked so hard, but didn’t see any results? What did you do? How can we set our expectations to commit to the long haul? Do we need to lower our ambitions or expectations?
3. Jena says that season of struggle caused her to reset expectations and redefine success. Life was not meant to go smoothly all the time and success is not always found in the grandiose. Instead, God celebrates the small things and the changes that happen in small places. How do you define success right now in what you’re doing? How might that change if you saw success in the small things?
4. Who and what might you be “willing to wage a long defeat” for, even when it no longer feels fashionable or urgent?
5. Living proximately involves “an active choice to give up despair and embrace uncertainty; a sacrifice to keep your heart soft; a determination to stick with it even when you may not succeed.” It doesn’t mean that you lower standards. Instead, you choose to live with hope.
What aspect of your life is challenging you right now? How can we help each other shift our thinking to choose to live with hope?
6. “We aren’t called to change the world, we’re called to love the world.” We are tempted to seek our envisioned change within our timeframe. Yet, Jena says that even if we lose, our work is worth fighting for, because God follows His own timing—not ours. How does the goal of “loving” the world shift our approach from “changing” the world? What can you do today to begin making that shift?
PROTOTYPE (3 min)
Think about a specific area of your life where you are afraid you will fail. Before our next session, commit to prayer and intentional hope in that area.
END IN PRAYER
FINISHED THIS SESSION?
Jena cites a conversation with her mentor Steve Garber as helping her reframe her definition of success and her understanding of hope. Read Steve’s brief meditation on Christmas in a broken world, called “The Hopes and Fears of All the Years.”