The Dog and Pony Show

Do you ever find yourself in situations where you are over your head?  Sometimes my learning curve is steep.  Such was the case when I began an eight year stent working for a wonderful non-profit, HOPE worldwide.  During this time my eyes were opened to many things.  First were the living conditions of the majority of the world.  I visited slums worldwide and met some of the most amazing and grateful people – despite their destitute conditions.  I cried more tears than I had ever cried before.

Second on the learning curve was how much I had to learn about my new job.   The philanthropic world of non-profits was new to me.  I figured a 501(c)(3) was probably either a locker combination or a new model of Nissan.  An NGO was not text slang for “never getting old” and inurement wasn’t something cows left on the ground.   Also, grant writing did not mean sending an e-mail to my nephew, Grant.

My naivety amused my colleagues.  When joining in a discussion about a kick-off for a new program and the need to make a certain event a ‘dog and pony show’…. my wheels started turning.  I thought it was a strange idea…but hey, I loved dogs and horses so why not have a fund raiser using these fine specimens from the animal kingdom.  I soon learned that a dog and pony show was not… er, ahem, gulp – well…it was not a real dog and pony show. I have to say I was a little disappointed about that.

The next item on the learning curve agenda came during a trip to the nation’s capitol.  I had actually learned quite a lot by this point in time, however I would still describe this trip as a sequel to “Ernest Goes to Washington.”  Since I worked to help establish programs to help the poor particularly in Eastern Europe – I was invited to a United Nations advisory council meeting for Eastern Europe held on Capitol Hill.  I had become an official representative for this advisory council and would go to learn and to contribute.  For some( still unknown to me today) reason on the first day of the meeting I volunteered to be something for which I don’t even remember the name.  I soon came to learn that it involved summarizing everyone’s comments and presenting them to the group in an organized fashion – United Nations’ style (whatever that was!).  During the first break, I found my friend Kitty, (a person not a feline) who had been involved in numerous types of similar situations and had many more years of experience than I had. (She was involved in a different meeting.) I confided in her that I had just volunteered for something for which I had no idea what I was doing.  She gave me a few pointers and a look that said to me, “good luck..and are you crazy?!”.

So, I did the only reasonable thing to do.  I went into the bathroom stall and begged God for wisdom and help so I could better help the poor and not reflect badly on the organization (or make a fool out of myself.)

James 1:5-8

    If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. [6] But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. [7] That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; [8] he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

As soon as I walked out of the stall some unknown woman came up to me and said these words. “I don’t know how you are handing this presentation, but if I were doing it here is exactly what I would say.”

I don’t know if she saw the look of total shock on my face.  I told her I would consider her words – and then feverishly wrote down everything she said.

Not only did I say all she had said to me, but I also realized that because I was the only one in the room who had actually spent time with the poor in Eastern Europe that I really did have something to offer.  I also realized a crucial lesson before me. God blesses requests for wisdom without laughing at us or “finding fault” as the scripture says.  I rely on this promise often, realizing that when I am trying to serve God and step forward in faith…not knowing where to step next…God always comes through.  One of my favorite quotes is entitled “Faith” by Patrick Overton.

When you come to the edge of all the light you have

And take the first step into the darkness of the unknown

You must believe one of two things will happen:

There will be something solid for you to stand upon
or, you will be taught how to fly.


6 thoughts on “The Dog and Pony Show

  1. Thank you for this encouraging post! The last couple of years I’ve been involved in spearheading some local HOPE efforts in the US and I have felt completely incompetent at times. This reminds me we’re never alone in these efforts to serve the poor (or to do anything that honors God)–and all we have to do is ask for help.


  2. I do remember this! And I remember feeling completely out of my element as well. We had so many fun, enlightening, heartbreaking and bonding times that I will never forget. Kitty


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s