Get Close

September 6, 2017



Written By: Lora

By Lora Dow

At the 2017 Willow Creek Association Global Leadership Summit, the DBD team was once again inspired and challenged by incredible stories of leadership and vision. Each year it seems a story will dig into our hearts and not let go.

For me, it was the stories told by Bryan Stevenson, Founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative and author of Just Mercy.

Those stories of fighting for justice for people, especially children, who have been wrongly accused or imprisoned  broke my heart. But it was his call to all of us that resonated most strongly.

Get close to people in trouble.

In our segregated, stratified and insulated communities, it’s easy to ignore the struggles of a single family or person from the outside. When we don’t know people from the other side of town or a different race or creed, it’s easy to believe the stereotypes. When we distance ourselves from a problem, it’s easy to dismiss it as insurmountable.

Stevenson challenges us to get close, to come along side, to look more carefully. As he told us: “You don’t have to have the answer to get close to the problem.”

This is wonderful advice for all of us, but it’s especially important for nonprofit leaders. Too often our boards and volunteers are kept away from the messy heart of our work. We want them to see everything running smoothly when their talents and strengths could be better used dealing with the ugly challenges.

Great things only happen when leaders do uncomfortable things.

We forget that there’s power in having your heart broken open. Grief and anger can be rocket fuel for mission. Volunteers who know what you do not just as a cause, but in the form of a real person are able to speak more passionately, recruit more authentically and stay energized for the work you need them to do.


Need more inspiration? Watch Bryan’s TED Talk.

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4 responses to “Get Close”

  1. Thank you Lora for encouraging us to lead boldly and bravely!

  2. Beth Rondello says:

    “We forget that there’s power in having your heart broken open.”
    A powerful statement that needs no explanation. Thanks, Lora.