High Priority Prospects and What They Can Mean for Your Ministry
I want to share a powerful method we’ve seen work again and again for leaders. I believe it will help you focus in the year as you look ahead to the next ten to twelve months.
Focus on establishing a group of highest priority prospects for you and your ministry this year.
We are not saying to abandon the meetings, planned communications, and other various things you’re doing to connect with people. If it’s working – keep doing it. However, as your organization grows its giving, the tendency is to leave people where they were when you last “saw” them. What we want to do instead is challenge you to focus in with a handful of people and take them deeper in your organization’s journey toward your vision.
We can see this same discipline to prioritize how time is spent with specific people in the life of Christ. He did not heal every person He came across. He spoke to the multitudes. Look closely at the Scriptures and you see there is also a bit of a structure, a hierarchy, in how He related to people. He had the multitudes. He also had the seventy-two He recruited and sent out, those He hand selected. For an even higher priority, He had the twelve; within the twelve, He had three in whom He invested specific and unique individual time.
The Short List
Establish a short list of people who are going to be your top priority for deeper relationship building for this entire year. The good news is you don’t necessarily have to have a specific plan of what each person may accomplish through their giving. Quite the contrary. When you pick the right people you probably have no idea what they may be capable of giving or the influence they may be capable of having on your future and the future of your ministry. But, you imagine it could be even more.
I challenge you to pick ten people who you think, at this point, have the greatest potential for transformational impact on your ministry organization. This impact could be through giving or their influence.
Focus on Them
First, focus more on learning about the people on your shortlist through asking them great questions.
What is going on in their life?
How can you invest time in them?
What are they working on?
What challenges are they facing?
What are they learning?
Who are they learning from?
What is going on in their family?
What kind of impact are they trying to have?
Do they have plans for their future or do they go more day-to-day?
Do they have a lot of habits and disciplines in place or do they just stay more in a reactive mode?
Each of these individuals will be very unique. You must cultivate your expertise on your people. Not only do you ask these questions at the right times of others, but be prepared to ask and answer these for yourself as a leader. This brings authenticity and depth to these relationships as there is a mutual learning, seeking, asking, and clarifying together. Share what you are learning and focusing on, what you are seeking to improve, and ask your priority people for their input. Doing so will encourage them further to share with you as well.
Developing Peer-to-Peer Relationships
Seeking their input and advice on your long-term plans at the right time is another step toward building a deeper relationship. If you have been following the disciplines you might have learned from us thus far, you have already done this with some, many, or all of your priority relationships and prospects.
Now, go deeper with this smaller group of people who could make a transformational difference. Then, at the right time, challenge them to provide leadership through making a significant giving commitment.
This is not something that is easily scripted. You have invested time in these individuals. You will have had opportunities to get advice from them. More importantly, you have had opportunities for them to get advice and input from you – this is what you’re looking for in these relationships. Keep an eye out for the moment they share with you what they are working on or challenged by. This signals the growth of a peer-to-peer relationship where you are able to challenge and encourage one another.
Make a mental note when this moment occurs. You are going to come back at some point and ask this person to provide additional leadership to others through transformational giving or service to advance the vision and mission of your ministry.
This is not about trying to get them to just give more or trying to figure out how much more they can give. This is about relating to them as a leader and as an individual and developing a shared perspective on what is going on in their life and what is going on in their world of work and leadership. Listen for the relationship to reach a point where this person begins to seek your input and thoughts as well.
Givers, people who are interested in investing in the kingdom of God, have a high degree of respect for people [like you perhaps?] who have committed their life to a great vision. So long as you are handling yourself as a professional and seeking out this type of relationship with them, a higher value will be placed on developing a relationship with you than you might imagine. It’s a very special relationship opportunity that ministry leaders have.
Challenging People to Provide Leadership through Their Giving
Set a time to meet and share with this individual. The conversation could go something like this:
“You know, I’ve really been grateful over these past (number of years) to really benefit from your advice and input along the way. It has been really humbling and encouraging for me that God has given me opportunities to share insight, and hopefully some wisdom with you along the way as well.
You know about our plans and where we’re going. We’re at a key point in our plans for the future, and I know you and I have talked about it. You’ve given me great advice but we are really now at a point now where I’m looking for an individual who is going to step forward and make a commitment that is going to be transformational for moving forward.
I am asking you to think and pray. Of course, the dollars become very important for where we are going and we need significant giving to accomplish this. However, what is rare, yet necessary, is a person who really is willing to commit and provide leadership with their commitment.
So, I’m asking you if you would think and pray, and talk more with me about taking this on. I know this is going to be a huge decision, for you. This is going to be a big decision. I’m asking you if you would be willing to dialogue with me about it as we move forward together.”
These are rare conversations and you are looking for the right moment after spending as much as an entire year focused on the handful of individuals you purposefully prioritize. If you do this, truly dedicate effort to knowing each person in your ten as an individual, you will find your investment of time in this group of people has been used in profound ways – it may even exceed the impact on just your organization. You will find God uses them to impact your leadership, but what’s even more humbling – God uses you to impact their journey along the way.
I’m very much looking forward to hearing how you apply this in the months ahead. Pick your people who you are going to focus on. Begin thinking about how you are going to add value to these individuals, and give thanks for how they will impact you in yet unforeseen ways.
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