Missionary and evangelist Jim Elliot once wrote, “Forgive me for being so ordinary while claiming to know so extraordinary a God.”
Elliot had a heart for unreached people and a passion for sharing the Gospel. For more than three years, Elliot worked with four other missionaries to orchestrate Operation Auca. The Huaorani people were an aggressive tribe in Ecuador remotely located and highly unapproachable. Elliot and his team spent time acclimating to Ecuadorian culture, learning Spanish and tribal phrases, and even initiated contact with members of the tribe by dropping gifts from a plane.
After several interactions, Elliot and the others landed on a remote beach near the tribe, where they could share a meal with a handful of Auca. They encouraged these tribesmen and women to return with friends and family to develop ties further and to hear the Gospel. Days later, tribe members killed Elliot and the other missionaries.
So what was the point of their efforts?
All was not lost. God was not done.
Elizabeth Elliot, Jim Elliot’s widow, followed up.
Elizabeth and their daughter ventured to the village and even lived there for a couple of years. Other family members of the slain missionaries moved to the community to continue the work of their loved ones.
Jim Elliot’s actions brought the Gospel to pockets of Ecuador and inspired Christians around the world. Elizabeth Elliot went on to write books about her experience, her husband, and her faith.
In development, just like discipleship, follow-up counts.
Follow-up supports the first round of efforts and makes way for the next wave.
Firstly, follow-up is the discipline of following through on things you discuss with people or promise with people. Follow-up is a way to build stronger relationships.
Follow-up is what builds professional integrity and a wholeness to your relationships over time. It sets you apart.
Work smarter, not harder. Do not overthink follow-up.
Follow-up could be where somebody gives you advice or input from a face-to-face meeting, and you make a note of that. Then the next time you meet, you mention how that advice or input impacted you or shaped what you are doing.
It is vital that you, through thanking and reporting, make it clear when you ask: “Here is what we are doing. Here is what we are working on in the future. Here is what we are asking you to consider doing.”
Follow-up comes into play when you circle back around, provide an update, and just as importantly, a directed nudge for how a person can give to your specific plans and programs. We often see long-winded letters or emails full of stories and graphics.
What we find much more effective and appropriate is to point-blank ask in a letter or email, say something like, “This is what we are working on, this is where we are going next. This is what we are asking people to do. Would you, pray, consider giving between $100 and $500 or $1,000?”
Often, people are interested in your mission. Additionally, they are focused on their personal responsibilities, to-do lists, etc., and easily lose track of their notion to give once they are no longer with you. Out of sight, out of mind.
Following-up with people places your ask back on their radar.
It could be an update, a text message, a phone call, a voicemail, a short personal email that says, “I just wanted to give you an update. I know you have been thinking about us and praying for us, and considering our current work. I wanted to give you an update. Other people have given.”
Follow-up is all about what you can do and how you can be creative to update, check-in, encourage, seek questions, seek input, remind people of the progress made, remind people that you have asked them. It brings your work back to the top of mind and encourages people that things are actually moving forward since you asked them.
Follow-up is where the results get done.
Click here to download this practical tool during seasons of asking and follow-up.