Insider Trading . . .

I’ve been accused of Insider Trading.

Sometimes I wonder how we know when what we do collusionis the “right thing” . . .

Sometimes we know more than we want to know . . . and we can try to ignore that uneasy feeling, which turns into an “ick” which then turns into facts that point to confirming what was suspected to be true. Negative stuff. Stuff that it would be easier to ignore but then, it’s that whole “sleeping at night” thing that I value.

Knowing there is “ick” and knowing I COULD do something about it . . . but that if I do, folks are going to talk about me, I’m going to make an organization mad, all that stuff.

Regardless of how it seems, I do not particularly ENJOY living on the edge. It just seems to happen that way.

I’ll confess . . . have never worked in the business world.

Being an educator prior to being a pastor, I’ve always been in a profession where you work to bring about change and there is no monetary profit associated with the outcome. Success is gauged in other ways.

When I was a sixth grade teacher success was measured by increased test scores (unfortunately) but also by the life of the students as they grew and matured while gaining both wisdom and knowledge.

While I am a pastor, I note success being marked by witnessing the transformation of people as they grow in their journey with Christ, hearing how their faith is changing them.

(Brief aside but a good example – recently someone shared how they were convicted while they were on a cruise of their own level of comfort in contrast to the level of poverty of the island. They said, “I was ashamed and it made me sick. I need more to bring about change.”)

I have run into a bit of a scuffle with a non-profit and I have wrestled with my decision.

A staff of the non-profit has used religion and “the Gospel” to shame me into doing what THEY think is right.

My question, why does “their view of right” have to be the only “right?”

They have accused me of “padding corporate America’s pockets (by purchasing items from stores other than their non-profit organization).”

I understand in corporate America it is about the betterment of our world with different arrangements of priorities primarily focused on financial success first.

I get that. It is the world in which we live.

However, if that is indeed “corporate America” and not “church America” . . . then I would ask, why are the practices of a non-profit as competitive, non-transparent (aka shady), and downright pushy as any business I have ever engaged with financially?

Non-profit world -is an organization that uses its surplus revenues to further achieve its purpose or mission, rather than distributing its surplus income to the organization’s shareholders as profit or dividends.

Corporate world- is an organization that aims to earn profit through its operations, deliver shareholder value / return on investment, is primarily concerned with its own interests and not those of the worldly needs or being the hands and feet of god.

There are some differences there and I expect the difference to remain.

In corporate America, I EXPECT there to be haggling of prices and companies changing their rates at different times so that they can attract more customers and increase the worth of a dollar.

In non-profit world I expect fairness and non-profits to treat other non-profit entities the same. (aka churches)

I do NOT expect a non-profit to pit churches against one another so that they can make more money for their overhead. Whichever pastor drives the harder bargain gets the bigger bang for the buck. Hmmmmmmm . . . . (And I even sit on the good end of this deal. I GOT the lower price . . . but my colleague friends did not. Thus ensues the problem).

In corporate America I EXPECT intense negotiations to achieve sales and profitability. It is not uncommon for one person to say one thing and then in a different situation one to have to use different words because he/she is trying to increase the value of a sale.

In non-profit world I expect transparency and honesty. Say the same thing to me you are going to say to my colleague. Do not use us against one another, Mr. Non-Profit/501c3.

I’m in a bit of a pickle.

I’ve run up against a non-profit company for the past three years where my “gut” has told me their practices are just not transparent when it comes to how they procure funds for their overhead.

Originally I caught some padding of costs for mission trips and their adding in expenses that were unnecessary to get the job done.

My solution – we stopped going on mission trips with that organization but I didn’t make a stink about it.

We just found a way to do our own.

I understand one of my roles as a pastor is to inquire about that which I do not understand and then also call out that which seems excess or unfair.

I did that a few years ago with said organization.

That didn’t win me any friends or a seat on their Board of Directors.

In fact, they “left me alone” for years. Until now and they wanted to do business again.

At first I wondered why. Sure, I know we are fun people to work with and we love having partners. But I just don’t think that is it.

Perhaps it is the fact that the price quoted for the product we need varies as much as $5.00 depending on what pastor you are . . . and if you purchase 1500 items, WOW! That’s a LOT of extra money for overhead of an organization!

Overhead is necessary and important.

I worry every week if folks will give to the local church so that we can pay our facility usage fee, salaries, and the power bill.

I value overhead, actually.

But be honest about it.

Say what it is and KEEP IT THE SAME FOR EVERY TRANSACTION.

Don’t charge one church more than you charge another. THAT is insider trading.

No fair . . . even when I’m the one who gets the extra savings of money!

In asking questions about the discrepancies I was accused of not being focused on the Kingdom of God.

I was told I could either choose a path of padding the pockets of corporate America or I could choose a path of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Supporting the Kingdom of God happens every single time one person who is a part of Back to School Bash shares the message of the mission and vision with a local business manager or corporate sponsor.

Supporting the Kingdom of God happens as folks attend the Bash and hear both secular and spiritual music as they enjoy the inflatables.

Supporting the Kingdom of God happens every time someone clicks to watch the video about Bash and sees volunteers washing the feet of a child (followed by prayer).

Supporting the Kingdom of God happens when 50 churches from the metro region of ALL DENOMINATIONS and FAITH TRADITIONS walk alongside corporate sponsors to offer supplies/shoes so that students can start school on equal ground.

Who knows!?!?!!

This might be a tiny step in debunking the myth that all churches are self-focused, hypocritical, and judgmental. No one has to “qualify as poor” to attend Bash.

—Jesus did not ask for W2s at the feeding of the thousands.

I also believe I can support the Kingdom of God by being a leader who analyzes how we spend our money and how we can get the most for it.

Being a good steward IS working for the Kingdom of God.

I MIGHT be wrong, but . . .when a non-profit is in charge of distributing a product, I cannot imagine the PRICE of that product fluctuating in a pattern that resembles the stock market on any given day.

There should be consistency and equity for all churches/pastors.

Again, there should be no quest to pit us against one another.

We are one voice, my colleagues and I. To me . . . that is a BEAUTIFUL thing in the Kingdom of God. Sort of like the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was among all present and they spoke and all could understand.

So . . . my pickle comes as now I am going to need some help. It would have been much easier to just order all 4500 of this one type of item and be done with it . . . but that is not the right thing.

I am not going to allow a non-profit, even if they work under the auspice of God, to manipulate, demean, and shame us into doing the wrong thing – supporting their non-transparent, ever-changing pricing, complicated way.

If you have some time to do some online shopping between now and July 1, email me or message me on Facebook.

I’m going to need a little help making purchases (which are reimbursable) for the Bash.

But it is worth it.

Because for every $5 we save, that is almost ½ a pair of shoes. OR a backpack (we have SEVERAL CORPORATE AMERICA COMPANIES THAT SUPPORT BASH BY GIVING US WHOLESALE! HMMMMMMM)

My stomach hurts by cutting ties to this organization. Not because I will miss them because I won’t. But this is going to be unpopular because I am not, in their eyes, choosing the path that leads to the Kingdom of God. They’ve accused me of “collusion” . . . I call it working together with my colleagues to accomplish a goal.

While the other way – their way – was MUCH easier, easier is not always right.

There is no “collusion.”