The Book I Always Recommend for Urban Business as Mission
Over the last 18 years of my time at Belay, I've read a lot of books on leadership, social enterprise, and serving disadvantaged communities. My all time favorite one is Father Greg Boyle's Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion. If you're interested in experiencing the crazy world of leading a faith venture, his beautiful book is a must read. And now he has written a new book, Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship, which I am excited to read.
Further, I enjoyed Father Greg's assertion that faith venture work is a slow journey. As Americans, we are culturally addicted to the idea of fast results. He gently reminds that God shows up but we must learn to trust in his slow approach.
"Fortunately, none of us can save anybody," he notes. "But we all find ourselves in this dark, windowless room, fumbling for grace and flashlights. You aim the light this time, and I'll do it next. The slow work of God. And you hope, and you wait, for the light--this astonishing light." ( p 128)
And sometimes God's activity becomes difficult to see. Indeed, the very nature of success becomes hard to measure in a faith venture. "People want me to tell them success stories. I understand this. They are the stories you want to tell, after all. So why does my scalp tighten whenever I am asked this? Surely, part of it comes from my being utterly convinced I am a fraud." ( p. 167)
For once you choose to hang out with folks who carry more burden than they can bear, all bets seem to be off. Salivating for success keeps you from being faithful, keeps you from truly seeing whoever's sitting in front of you. Embracing a strategy and and an approach you can believe in is sometimes the best you can do on any given day. If you surrender your need for results and outcomes, success becomes God's business. I find it hard enough to just be faithful. ( 167-168)
I could go on and on with Boyle fantastic insights on the unique nature of employing individuals rebuilding lives. But you really need to get this book for yourself. reflects Boyle's unique talent at telling the stories of the community he serves.
A few years ago, I presented at a Social Enterprise Alliance conference following a talk by Father Greg. He is one of the best and most engaging speakers ever. If you ever get a chance to attend one of his talks, make it a priority. In the meantime, grab the book and enjoy this picture of a unique community of love.