Many of us are allergic to business jargon. Nothing can make people start itching faster than sitting in a meeting and hearing words like “strategy,” “assessment,” or — horror of horrors — “best practice methodology.”
“Partnership” can be one of those abstract business-like words that make our eyes glaze over. The word has been used to mean a lot of things to a lot of people until it hardly means anything to anyone. What is partnership?
Partnership is at the center of what we do at Compassion. We not only partner with you, our sponsors and donors, but also with the local church around the world. So it’s worth understanding what we mean by partnership and how we do it.
The word “partnership” is derived from the Latin word for “portion.” In partnership, we share a portion with each other.
Partnership should achieve a vision that is mutually desired and that cannot be achieved by any one partner alone. It is not simply having tea together. It is having tea in order to work together on something that you both care about and can’t do alone.
With this in mind, this is how we define partnership:
“A Compassion partnership is a collaborative and mutually beneficial relationship between Compassion and another entity for the purpose of releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name beyond the capacity of either partner individually.”
Our definition is based on three things:
- A common mission to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name. This is the only purpose for which we will enter into partnerships.
- A collaborative relationship. Both parties must actively build relationship with each other and cooperate willingly on the mission.
- Mutual respect and mutual benefit. We recognize that we need one another to accomplish the mission.
And based on these three things, we have developed a set of principles that guide us toward healthy, God-honoring partnerships.
They apply to our relationships with you and our supporting church partners; they apply to strategic ministry relationships; and they apply to our implementing church partners.
Partnership Is Founded Upon Our Identity in Christ.
In Christ we are one body with many parts. Each part offers unique service and is equally important to the health of the body. Each partner, irrespective of size, power or resources, is valued. No partner is viewed as more important than the other. This can be achieved only if we are committed to the attitude of Christ and “having the same love … and in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:2-3).
Partnership Seeks Mutually Respectful and Beneficial Relationships
No partner should use the other for its own goals, but should develop genuine, mutually respectful, and beneficial relationships. A partner does not lord over or “do mission” for the other. Rather, a partner seeks to help, empower and serve the other to enrich their shared ministry.
We give priority to relationships over tasks and projects. When relationships empower, rather than impose agendas, all partners are transformed in the process.
Partnership Accepts Mutual Responsibility and Commitment
Partnership takes the commitments made to one another with utmost seriousness and works in collaboration, without dominance, exploitation or condescension.
Increased trust is built through partners being accountable to each other, ensuring that their words and actions are consistent. Partnership requires an enduring commitment to not only the common vision but also to each other.
Partnership Produces Visible Transformation and Outcomes
Partnership does not exist as an end in itself. It exists for the purpose of advancing the kingdom of God further, better and/or faster than either party could do alone.
For us, partnership exists for the shared goal of releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name. The essence of partnership is that one plus one equals more than two. We enter into partnerships in order to do something we cannot do alone or that we can do better together.
“A mosaic consists of thousands of little stones. Some are blue, some are green, some are yellow, and some are gold. When we bring our faces close to the mosaic, we can admire the beauty of each stone. But as we step back from it, we can see that all these little stones reveal to us a beautiful picture, telling a story none of these stones can tell by itself.
That is what our life in community is about. Each of us is like a little stone, but together we reveal the face of God to the world.” Henri J. Nouwen, The Mosaic That Shows Us the Face of God
At Compassion, we are deeply honored to be part of the thousands of little stones that God is using to build a beautiful mosaic. Together we are telling a story that none of us could tell by ourselves.
Through our commitment to and relationship with one another, we are revealing the face of God to the world and advancing His kingdom by releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name.
This post was originally published on January 28th, 2012.