Truth. Is truth absolute or relative? After a day of being harangued to change my answer from a simple statement of the facts to a response that people wanted me to give, I realize that there are differences of opinion about this.
Here is the situation. Tenants in a rental property Nancy and I own would like to purchase a home. They are nice people and they have generally paid their rent within 30 days of when it was due. When they have fallen behind, they have caught up within a few months. I would consider them to be relatively low credit risk. So, when the people representing them for a bank loan contacted me, I told them exactly that. In fact, I took the time to look up the tenant records and gave the loan processor the precise data and I added a personal word of endorsement.
However, the bank form asks, “Number of times rent has been more than 30 days past due.” This seems like a straight forward question and my answer was a positive number. However, the loan processor and the tenant want me to enter zero. They believe if the number is anything but “0” that the bank will reject the application.
During the afternoon I received several phone calls during which I heard appeals ranging from “these guys are nice people, we really want to help them realize their dream of owning a home where they can raise their family” to “do you realize that if you keep them from getting this loan that they will loose their house, the people who are counting on them to purchase the house will be stuck, and there will be a domino of ramifications after that?” There was also an attempt to redefine what “30 days past due” meant. Through all this interaction, I was made to feel like I was a lesser person because I was holding up the loan process. I tried to explain that it was not my fault that my records (verified by the tenant) indicated that the tenant was more than 30 days past due at least one time. They seemed surprised that I was unwilling to “simplify the entire situation” by saying the number is zero. It didn’t seem important to them that, in fact, the number was not zero.
For me, truth is the actual statement of fact. The loan processor, the tenants, and I agree that because the tenants are nice people and generally pay within 30 days, that they deserve a home of their own. I would like to help them achieve this dream. However, this dream doesn’t change the “facts.” The facts remain the same regardless of the circumstances and ramifications.
This morning I spoke with a remarkable British couple who has been assisting emerging entrepreneurs for many years. They have developed a training workshop based on the Jesus stories of the Feeding of the 5000 and the Parable of the Talents.
From the Feeding of the 5000 story, they teach that we need to understand our resources. We should look at what we have, not what we don’t have. Investing what we have will result in more.
From the Parable of the Talents, they teach responsibility to strategically use what God has given. Vision and initiative are required and rewarded. Inaction is punished.
My new friends help people who are just getting started, those who are taking their first steps into business. They teach topics such as simple market research, risk management, managing cash flow, record keeping and how to handle profits. Now some of the people are succeeding and need more specific training. For example, some of them see a need for a “credit union.” They would like to pool some of their funds and make them available to each other for emergencies and other specific uses.
Unfortunately, they don’t know anything about starting a credit union. What are the pot holes to be avoided? What kind of rules should be established? How do they structure accountability? In fact, they don’t even know if they are asking the right questions. They don’t know what they don’t know.
So, I volunteered to provide someone who can help them. That is exactly what Anda Leadership is in business to do.
Now, I need your help. Do you know someone with credit union experience who would be willing to help these fledgling Kenyan entrepreneurs? Please help me get in touch with them.
Yesterday our small and dynamic Anda Leadership staff team met for a day of reporting and planning. We had a lot to discuss and even though we met from early in the morning until early in the evening, the time passed quickly. We covered topics that are current and need immediate action and we engaged in a more strategic discussion in the form of a SWOT analysis. (SWOT is an acronym that stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.)
Most of our weaknesses and threats rise out of our short organizational existence and small size. For example, we have very limited funding and practically a non-existent track record of raising money. Our vision is to have a global impact, but our small size and shortness of organizational experience make that vision seem hopelessly unrealistic.
On the other hand, we have a number of strengths and opportunities that are exciting. The first item on our list, the first thing mentioned, was that we are committed to a God for whom all things are possible. We are committed to follow him as our leader. Also, even though we are only four staff, we have considerable individual experience and enjoy personal credibility in a number of circles. Anda Leadership is currently a nimble organization and represents a cause whose time is now. Many missions, development, and political thinkers are saying that enabling emerging market entrepreneurs is exactly what is needed to combat poverty, disease, war, and other spiritual and social problems. We have an opportunity to create an organization that is currently relevant and leverages current technology.
Possible the high point of the day was when we realized how much vision alignment we enjoyed as a staff team. Even though we had to work through a few issues, we ended the day with complete unity. What a joy to work with people who are completely committed to a common cause!
As I anticipate traveling and representing Anda Leadership in Africa and other emerging markets, I have begun to think about what I will say when I am asked to speak to leaders, entrepreneurs, and business people. I think at least part of my initial message will go something like this:
God wants three things…
- Your service – he wants you to humbly serve him and your community. This reflects the character of God and is something he desires of all his people, including and maybe especially those like you who fill important roles in society.
- Your integrity – he wants you to live your life and conduct your business with honesty and transparency. When you cheat and/or hide aspects of your business, you are not only deceiving other people, but you are mocking God. He cannot bless you when you behave this way.
- Your success – he wants to bless you! He wants your business to succeed. When your business succeeds you hire more people and you spend more money at other businesses. This creates a positive economic cycle in your community which is good for everyone. God wants to bless you so that you will be a blessing to others. Also, if you succeed while conducting your business with a spirit of service to God and people and honoring biblical values such as integrity and transparency, then other people will see and will also want to live holy and godly lives. So, your success will result in glory to God which is the most important thing we can do.
How does this sound to you? Do you think this is the appropriate message for me to take to entrepreneurs in emerging markets? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
It seems that everywhere I turn someone is urging people to express gratefulness. Marketing trainers instruct their students to regularly thank their customers for their business. Nonprofit fundraising consultants help organizations structure seven opportunities to say, “Thank you,” for every “ask.” Today, I read an article that claimed the best and most overlooked action a job-hunter can do is to send a thank-you note to follow up an interview.
Why is everyone saying that it is so important to say, “Thank you?” Maybe it’s because we generally forget. Which reminds me…
Thank you for reading my blog!
(I really mean it. This is not simply a marketing ploy. I appreciate everyone who reads this blog and especially when someone takes time to respond. You are an encouragement to me.)