At the end of a very busy Red Shield Appeal weekend, I find myself reflecting on the success of this significant fundraising event from a number of angles beyond the obvious emphasis on raising money. I can't help but to see the Red Shield Appeal through a leadership lens as an opportunity to evaluate and develop leadership potential and involvement. Willow Creek Community Church Senior Pastor Bill Hybels provides a useful leadership assessment tool that, when applied to the Red Shield Appeal, can reveal a lot about Corps and community leaders.
Passing the Leadership Test by Bill Hybels presents five tests for leaders which he developed around the calling of the first disciples by Jesus in Luke 5:1-11 (read the story for context). Since hearing Bill present this tool at a Leadership Summit in 2003, I have used it in a variety of leadership contexts and have found it provides a useful insight into the involvement of leaders in the Red Shield Appeal.
1. "Bias Towards Action" Test: Anybody who has ever participated in the Red Shield Appeal knows that it doesn't organise itself, nor does the money collect itself. There is a lot of planning, recruiting, scheduling, mapping, connecting, before you even think about knocking on a door or rattling a tin! As an Area Captain, District Chairman and Corps Officer I've observed four types of responses to the Red Shield Appeal - those who avoid it at all costs; those who participate begrudgingly; those who give their obligatory two hours on Red Shield Sunday out of a sense of duty; and those who will do whatever it takes to ensure the event is a success because they own the vision.
2. "Can You Follow Directions" Test: One of the challenges of coordinating a large scale event involving literally hundreds of volunteers, that is dependent upon the good will of the public and subject to legislative and organisational requirements, is getting people to cooperate with the process. Initiative and enthusiasm that cannot follow direction becomes a liability that can risk the integrity of the event. This is especially true for the Red Shield Appeal, which has earned the trust and respect of the wider community.
3. "Who Deserves The Credit" Test: We all love to celebrate the success of our own efforts, but the success of the Red Shield Appeal is an interdependent relationship between God's favour, public generosity and volunteer participation. The moment we devalue any one of these relationships by an inflated ego, we dishonour the others.
4. "The Grander Vision" Test: The Red Shield Appeal invites participation with the broader mission and ministry of The Salvation Army. It draws us out of the familiarity of our churches by challenging us with a vision of human need that extends beyond our community. Salvationists need to expand their vision broader than their local Corps to fully embrace the opportunities of the Red Shield Appeal.
5. "Will You Leave It" Test: Fulfillment of any mission of value requires a willingness to step out of your comfort zone and engage in activities that may not necessarily align with your gifts or personality. I have met too many leaders who have robbed themselves and the mission of extraordinary experiences by playing it way too safe. This is often manifested by an aversion to doorknocking in the Red Shield Appeal.
My application of these five leadership tests to the Red Shield Appeal is not to make a judgement against the involvement of leaders, but to provide insight for areas of coaching and development. For the past few years now I have embraced the Red Shield Appeal as a practical platform to develop existing leaders and to identify and recruit potential leaders. Using the leadership lens to evaluate the Red Shield Appeal is another positive way of making the most of a very time demanding event in the life of a Corps Officer.