DSC03296Why does it take something dramatic, life-changing or frightening to shake our belief system? Some would even argue that the mere state of comfort in one’s own understanding or environmental surroundings is an inhibitor to growth. Simply, we only know what we think we know. Or worse, what we’ve been told.

There have been three times in my life where I have been at the altitude of 35,000 ft. I know this might be very common for people who travel across the globe on a regular basis, however it took two tours in a combat zone to the Middle East and East Asia and then finally again this year to South East Asia for me to understand its significance in my life. In the first two trips, I was a soldier in the US Army. The third time, I was a soldier of God on a missions trip with my church in Thailand. These experiences, two very contrasting perspectives, challenged everything I know.

By now you’re probably asking yourself how this has anything to do with nonprofits. If you consider the term in a different light, the way we invest ourselves with specific expectations, then “nonprofit” could bring about a whole new meaning. For instance, if I invest my time, talents, finances and an emotional sacrifice without an expectation of any return (profit), then the endeavor is more of a “mission” than it is a nonprofit venture. This means that the goal is no longer predetermined, but instead a trust in an outcome that is predestined. The focus now is about the doing vs the results. Try writing a business plan around that!

It was during these three times in my life, 35,000 ft, that my investments started with predetermined outcomes. All three instances resulted instead with something predestined. Meaning, the expected return on my investment didn’t result in the “profit” I had imagined. In this aspect, all cases turned out a “nonprofit”. And just to clarify, I’m not talking about financial gain. I’m talking about a new point of view.

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The terms “altruistic”, “philanthropic”, “humanitarian” and “charitable” all come to mind when we talk about nonprofit organizations that are designed to be unselfish and generous to a fault–all in the effort to better our world. But the actual meaning of each of these terms stems from a perspective that there exists something good that should be extolled. And, we are the ones who should initiate, control and protect it! I would like to challenge all of us to view this in a different light. That the “good” in everything was created by God. He alone initiates it, controls it and protects it. We are merely participants in his almighty plan–a predestined outcome. The fact that there exists things in our world that are opposite of good is because some of us choose not to participate in this point of view.

What if the investments we all make to better our world were rooted in a selfless action without any expectations of a profit? What if, in this perspective, we all wore the badge of a nonprofit? It would mean that the outcomes of our investments would result in the beauty of something we can’t even imagine. Something bigger than ourselves, a “good” that can only come from doing hands that expect nothing in return. I wager that the results would lead us to the next thing, then the next and so on. A predestined path to peace with ourselves, with God and with others.

Hello, my name is Bruce. And I’m a nonprofit!

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