Vocation for the long haul
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 a passionate and effective advocate for the people of East Africa, co-founding and growing a high-impact and high-visibility organization called Blood:Water. In this talk, 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 meet with the inevitable setbacks associated with our calling, what will give us the hope and strength to stay in it for the long haul?
Jena delivered this talk at the Alternative Imagination Summit, a gathering of the Praxis community to develop creative, redemptive responses to cultural and social opportunities.
[Note: Jena's entire talk is in a single video.]
FINISHED THIS SESSION?
OPEN IN PRAYER
RECONNECT (10 min)
Last session, we talked about love as the alpha & omega of entrepreneurship. our prototype was to try out a new way to love A person or group differently through our work. what did you learn? How did it go?
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. read genesis 3:17-19, which tells us that through our "painful toil" we will experience "thorns and thistles" yet also "Eat the plants of the field." what can we expect from our experience of work as a result of the fall?
2. think of a time WHEN YOU failed. WHAT DID YOU LEARN THAT YOU MAY NOT HAVE LEARNED IF IT HAD "worked out" in the end?
3. jena says this season of struggle caused her to redefine success—that "truer triumph comes from the small than from the grandiose." in the previous session, jessica redefined success as "THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO ARE POSITIVELY IMPACTED" BY INTERACTING WITH her COMPANY.
what do these definitions of success have in common? how do they differ from the definitions you've inherited from your family, culture, or vocation?
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."
how can you live proximately in the midst of the specific disappointments and defeats and lost causes you may experience in this season of your life—relational, vocational, or spiritual?
6. "We aren't called to change the world, we're called to love the world." What spiritual disciplines and decisions would be most helpful to you in making this shift in mindset?
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
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.”