Cooperation over Competition

April 2014

My dad has always taught me the importance of constantly pursuing new experiences, relationships, and knowledge. By doing so, we continue to increase our capacity for creativity and original thought. He equates it to a painter who only has one color on his palette versus a painter who has twenty. By adding more colors to your leadership palette, “we can create the masterpiece that our vision demands.”

I’ve tried to instill this value within our culture at CARE for AIDS. All of our team is encouraged to serve periodically with other non-profits who are doing great work.

This week, Jessica Jetton, our Development Director, is leading a team of volunteers on a trip with Lighthouse Family Retreat. This Atlanta-based organization provides a seaside retreat for children suffering from cancer and their families.

Similarly, I just returned from training church and business leaders in Bogota, Columbia with a great organization called Equip.


Let me share a few reasons why I believe that it is so important for our people to go and volunteer in another environment:

It helps us maintain a Kingdom perspective. We cannot forget that we are not the only organization doing work to bring healing and restoration to this broken world. If we become too consumed with our own work, we can begin to see other organizations as competitors instead of cooperators in our common pursuit.

We learn what we can do better. We are not a perfect organization by any means, and we are eager to learn from others about how we can work better, smarter, and faster.

We can inject some new ideas into other organizations. Our team members have specialized skills and our organization has figured out a few best practices over the years. Hopefully, we can share some ideas and insights that will help other organizations be more effective in their work.

We can expand our world. This past week, I taught four 90-minute sessions to leaders in Columbia. Preparing and delivering those talks taught me so much about how to be a better leader and communicator. On top of that, I met dozens of individuals in Columbia that impacted my life. From the conference organizer to the host pastor, they all modeled exceptional leadership. I even had a new friend confess his HIV status to me. I was the first person he had ever told, and I was able to hear what it was like living with that disease in Columbia. All of those experiences and relationships have added colors to my palette.

It helps us avoid burnout. Although our work is incredibly fulfilling, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t exhausting. Getting out of the normal routine can refocus and reenergize us. It also reminds us of the things we love and appreciate about our organization and our work.

Whether you are in a non-profit or for-profit organization, volunteering for a great cause is a win-win-win situation. It will benefit you as you get recharged, it will benefit your organization as you expand your world, and it will benefit the organization who receives your time and services.

How can this idea apply to your organization?