Posts Tagged ‘dai’

Not Fade Away

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Reposted from the Gathering. View the original article by Fed Smith here. Fred is a friend to Development Associates International (DAI) and his thoughts were too good for us to keep to ourselves.

640px-Shepherds,_Chambal,_MP,_IndiaI was 38 when I realized I was a misfit in my work. I was teaching in a traditional boarding school on the East Coast and working overtime to adapt – but unsuccessfully. It was no one’s fault. It was simply not the right place for me.

During that time I discovered a book by Ralph Mattson and Art Miller, Finding a Job You Can Love. Their writings changed my life because the authors (who then became friends) showed me that God had designed me in a particular way to accomplish a particular kind of work. I could try to shoehorn myself into a job but there would be very little satisfaction over time. What I needed was to find work that gave me more energy the longer I did it.

I became an evangelist for the good news about “giftedness” and have spent much of the last 30 years helping people find the design and fit that is right for them. I still believe it is true that there is nothing more satisfying than finding the work for which you feel you have been created. It’s then that we easily sense we are in the will of God for our lives.

However, there are exceptions and sometimes people are called by God to a work that is not a fit. It’s not punishment or intended to build character. It is not a test. It is being chosen to fulfill a purpose we cannot always understand.

I’ve thought about Peter, the fisherman, instructed by Jesus to “feed my lambs.” Instead of using the final miraculous catch of fish as a taste of what Peter would be doing for his life’s work, Jesus tells the fisherman to become a shepherd.

Fishermen and shepherds have nothing in common. Imagine Steve Jobs being told he would now be head of of Human Resources at Apple or Bill Gates being moved to the position of corporate chaplain. What Jesus tells Peter to do is this pronounced and jarring for his disposition.

Fishing is an exciting sport and something you do when and where you want and on your own schedule. Shepherding is definitely not. It is tedious work. Shepherds live with sheep. They sleep with them, and they smell like them.

And catching is not the same as caring. You never walk into a home and see a lamb mounted over the fireplace in place of a prize-winning blue marlin. No one takes a vacation to go shepherding.

In other words, Jesus takes all of Peter’s instincts and skills and, instead of anointing a natural talent, he assigns Peter a role that could not have been more unnatural. He calls Peter to give up what he would have likely preferred.

Many of you have wrestled with similar assignments – being faithful in vocations for which you had little affinity but knew it was important to stay. Perhaps you have accepted the responsibility of taking care of someone else – a parent, a child or a spouse. And over the years I have met men and women who set aside their own ambitions to guide a ministry or business through turmoil and change. It’s not volunteering.  It’s an assignment.

Yes, there are times that people should find work for which they are better suited, but there are also times when their calling may require them to sacrifice their  preferences.

While the world rewards trophy catches and personal accomplishments, these shepherds have chosen to tend invisibly. They have not merely resigned themselves or served out of a grudging sense of duty but have willingly and sacrificially aligned themselves with the interests of others. They, like Peter, have followed out of love for Jesus and not insisted on their own dreams, independence and work more fitting to their design.

I do not know why Jesus picked Peter to feed lambs instead of fish for men. I do not know why God places some people in difficult spots for years at a time instead of their being in work that is satisfying and natural to them. I do not know why He does not always use our affinities and skills in ways that make sense to us.

However, I do know this. At the end of Peter’s life he does not reminisce about fishing. He says nothing about what he could have been or what he would have done had he chosen his own way to serve.

Instead, he writes about what he has come to know so well – our being shepherds of God’s flock in our care, “watching over them – not because you must but because you are willing, as God wants you to be.”

He is no longer the impetuous fisherman but the patient shepherd Jesus assigned him to be. No regrets. No remorse.

Was his life different from what he might have planned? More than likely. Do I understand why God would ask someone as unlikely as Peter to be a shepherd? No, but I do believe it turned out the way Jesus intended. Peter laid down his life, his plans, and his affinities for his friends and, perhaps, that is the “rock” that is the foundation of the Church. That is Peter’s glory that will not erode or fade away.

Fred Smith is a graduate of Denver University and Harvard Divinity School. He spent several years as teacher and administrator at Charlotte Christian School and The Stony Brook School before joining Leadership Network, where he served as President for 12 years. Fred is the President of The Gathering, an international association of individuals, families and foundations giving to Christian ministries. As well, Fred is the Chairman of The Fourth Partner, a non-profit organization focused on Christian philanthropy and community development within the East Texas area. Fred and his wife, Carol, reside in Tyler, Texas and have two grown daughters. one son-in-law and two grandsons.

International Women’s Day

Saturday, March 8th, 2014

_DSC3311“International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.”

“This year’s theme, Equality for Women is Progress for All emphasizes how gender equality, empowerment of women….are essential to economic and social development.” [1]

So, today Development Associates International (DAI) honors the progress towards equality we have made together and the brave women and men who worked side-by-side to achieve that progress. We look forward to a future of greater triumphs, stronger unity and deeper understanding.

[1] UN Women;

Reimagining Possibilities

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Part three of three

DAI Reimagining Possibilities (395x500)“There’s no use trying,” Alice said, “One can’t believe impossible things.” “I dare say you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen, “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”—excerpt from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

Restorers are individuals who, fueled by a vision of how things ought to be, make whole what is broken simply by living the Gospel. Sometimes the vision of communities redeemed that Restorers hold seems impossible to attain to the people they lead and maybe even to the Restorers themselves.

Have you felt like that? Have you had a vision for some project, some goal, something that seemed too big to turn into a reality?

C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and their literary club the Inklings loved novels because they allowed the author to take readers on an imaginary journey with truths of reality fantastically intertwined. They thought if the reader can imagine something, they can then take the step to believe something. If you can imagine a good and wild lion ruling Narnia, maybe you can believe a good god rules our universe.

In the same way leaders have the wonderful opportunity to help others reimagine what is possible. Development Associates International (DAI) enjoys helping leaders all around the world navigate impossible visions through consulting and Strategic Thinking workshops. And we enjoy even more seeing those visions become realities.

So where to start? Keep your attention focused on God, look to his abilities not your limitations. See His possibilities not your impossibilities, like Peter did. When Jesus calls Peter out into the deep waters, Peter at first does well walking on the waves because he was focused on Jesus. As soon as he turns his gaze to the wind he begins to sink (Matthew 14:22-33).

With your attention in the correct place, you can help others reimagine possibilities that once were deemed unattainable.

Refocusing Our Attention

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Part two of three

DAI Refocusing our Attention -Matthew 6_6Restorers are individuals who make whole what is broken simply by living the Gospel out in the day to day activities of life. Fueled by a vision of how things ought to be, they are uniquely postured to partner with God in his work of restoration.

But to partner well with God’s restoration work our attention needs to be refocused on Him and his ways. “Refocus for me is really finding a way that’s more New Testament-rooted,” shares Jim Daly in a radio interview with Krista Trippett*, “that we speak kindly, we speak gently to the world…Let’s hold each other accountable as Christians as believers, but when we’re engaging the world, let’s show compassion.

Development Associates International (DAI) through our servant leadership workshop series helps refocus attentions from the cultural model of leadership to the New Testament model found in Jesus. Through his teaching and examples we learn very practical leadership principles that were counter-cultural then and counter-cultural now.

Jesus humbled himself in order to empower others and to glorify God. He did not demand preferential treatment. Instead he washed his disciples’ feet, a role reserved for the lowest of servants (John 13: 12-17). The DAI logo and our workshops on Servant Leadership depicts this image of humbled leadership.

Jesus labored with his disciples doing “on the job training” casting out demons, healing the sick and ministering to the outcasts with or without receiving so much as a thank you afterwards (Luke 17: 11-19). Why? Maybe because he knew that is how they would learn best.

Jesus was willing to be interrupted to care for the one (John 8: 2-11; Luke 5: 17-26). A graduate student in the DAI Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership phrased it wonderfully: “Yes a manager should manage the tasks, but they must not forget that people complete the tasks. They must not lose FOCUS of the relationships.”

So how do we start to refocus our attention? As part of his sermon on the mount, Jesus said, “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.” (Matthew 6:6, the Message)

What helps you to refocus your attention?

*The interview with Jim Daly and Gabe Lyons hosted by Krista Trippett aired Sept 20, 2012 via the On Being radio broadcast and can be found at

Restoring the Nations

Friday, November 29th, 2013

Part one of three.

cracked-potsThose of us at Development Associates International (DAI) see the possibility, the potential and the beauty held within communities and even nations full of hope and healing. We see Africans desiring to come out from under foreign aid dependence, we see Asians wanting to stop corrupt practices, we see Indians longing to transform the diminutive view of women. And DAI sees servant leaders as the way to achieve that cultural transformation.

DAI, in addition to you and 7 billion others, longs to restore the communities we call home. Gabe Lyons, in his book, Next Christian, describes the Restorers, These Christians sense the deep hunger for meaning and purpose in the lives of their friends. They recognize these longings aren’t really all that new. They are actually quite old and completely human. In the midst of change, the promise of good news is palpable. For those attuned to it, enormous possibilities await.” (Lyons, p.28 The Next Christian)*

Restorers are individuals who make whole what is broken simply by living the Gospel in the daily mundane and in vocational callings. Fueled by a vision of how things ought to be, they are uniquely postured to partner with God in his work of restoration.

We long for wholeness because there, deep inside of each of us, resides a feeling that things go on day after day a bit off kilter. We encounter examples, models, molds that are fractured. They too need to be restored.

Our current model of leadership might be like a jug with a large hole. Water simply flows right out of it. Or it might be like a jug with a hairline fracture. Slowly it loses integrity and can no longer do what it was designed to do.

Walking alongside leaders over the course of three years, DAI helps restore the model of leadership they acquired from the culture around them. And in doing so release others to become restorers.

Are you a Restorer? Do you see the potential and beauty around you? Share your story of restoration in action.

*The Next Christian: Seven Ways You Can Live the Gospel and Restore the World by Gabe Lyons, as the subtitle suggests, is meant to help you discover practical ways to live the Gospel and restore the world. Watch Gabe and several church leaders go deeper and share how churches can unleash restorers throughout their entire community.

Solitude & Leadership

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

the_thinking_man_by_jonc20-d2y3jlh (422x500)Solitude & Leadership by William Deresiewicz from the Spring 2010 online edition of The American Scholar, a quarterly magazine of public affairs, literature, science, history and culture.

Deresiewicz says, “We have a crisis of leadership in America because our overwhelming power and wealth, earned under earlier generations of leaders, made us complacent, and for too long we have been training leaders who only know how to keep the routine going. Who can answer questions, but don’t know how to ask them. Who can fulfill goals, but don’t know how to set them. Who think about how to get things done, but not whether they’re worth doing in the first place. What we have now are the greatest technocrats the world has ever seen, people who have been trained to be incredibly good at one specific thing, but who have no interest in anything beyond their area of exper­tise. What we don’t have are leaders.

What we don’t have, in other words, are thinkers. People who can think for themselves. People who can formulate a new direction: for the country, for a corporation or a college, for the Army—a new way of doing things, a new way of looking at things. People, in other words, with vision.”

Development Associates International (DAI), like Deresiewicz, encourages the leaders around us to seek solitude as a means to envision and change the future before them.

Where is Your Wilderness?

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Chances are you have done a great many things this week from leading hundreds, to propelling your business forward, to caring for the most precious in your family. You have done a great many things. Good and worthy things.

Within the doing of the week, how many minutes, hours were spent being in solitude?

Jesus, after being baptized, withdrew to the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11).
Jesus, before choosing the twelve, withdrew to the wilderness (Luke 6:12).
Jesus, after walking through hard times, withdrew to the wilderness (Matthew 14:13).
Jesus, after doing great things, withdrew to the wilderness (Matthew 14:23, Mark 1:35, Luke 5:16).

Jesus withdrew to the wilderness.

Where is yours? Where do you retreat into solitude to simply be before God? Where can solitude be found? In a city of millions? In the maze of cubicles? In a house of boisterous children?

If you have not done so yet, find your own wilderness to practice solitude before God.

New Endeavor

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Launching the MAOL into new countries.

DAI MAOL Africa Version 2New endeavors start a bit wobbly like learning to ride a bicycle. But the more you try at it, the more smoothly the ride goes.

DAI experiences this first hand when we start new MAOL partnerships. For example, in 2011 a major flood in Sri Lanka prevented half of the students from attending their orientation. And the Arab Spring paused all DAI ministry in Egypt including the MAOL which only just began the year before.

Happily, the ride is getting smoother! So far this year, DAI started the MAOL in Burkina Faso and Cameroon (countries marked in yellow). Our only bump in the road consisted of a passport being lost in the mail which prevented the usual DAI staff member from orientating each new cohort.

Thankfully we have very competent partners who filled in. Joel Gray, head of the institution in Burkina Faso, has been a professor with DAI for over 6 years. In 2010 the first DAI students from Cameroon graduated from the MAOL program in Central African Republic. Burdened to bring this leadership development to his home country, this graduate founded LEAD University for International Development (LUCID) in the capital of Cameroon.

This year DAI started the first Cameroon MAOL cohort in partnership with LUCID. One student’s determination to bring DAI to Cameroon, speaks volumes about the value of this transformative curriculum. Many more Cameroonians are discovering the same.

“On March 11th, thirty elegantly dressed Christian leaders began the orientation course in Cameroon,” shared the cohort coordinator, “They included presidents of denominations, directors of public and private organizations, a proprietor of a school and a colonel of the army. Their punctuality, assiduity and interaction throughout the week of studies revealed the appreciation they attributed to the course that just started.” We look forward to seeing how God transforms each of these leaders through letting God into their studies.

Giving Opportunity

Help launch second-year students in Papua New Guinea.

2PG-PNG-12If you have watched the BBC production Planet Earth, a new Eden with elaborate birds of paradise comes to mind. Yet in the midst of its beauty underlies a darkness – animism, corruption and tribalism are some of the issues Christian leaders in Papua New Guinea face.

DAI partnered with two academic institutions on the island to offer the MAOL there starting November 2012. The Tyndale House Foundation has opted to join us in equipping leaders with tools to address the issues mentioned.

The Tyndale Foundation challenged DAI with a $20,000 matching grant. If we raise $20,000 they will grant us $20,000. Would you help DAI meet this challenge?

As you read this, the cohort of MAOL students are meeting in the highlands of PNG to uncover a God-centered view of strategic planning and women in leadership. These two courses are crucial in communities such as this that believe that tomorrow is out of their control and women are property of their husbands. We excitedly look forward to how the students’ marriages, churches and communities will change as a result of their time diving into these two courses.

Would you consider a one-time gift of $100 towards this match?

Give a gift online at

Prayer Points                                           

Your prayers play a crucial part in the ministry of DAI. Thank you for praying!

  • For God to continually speak to leaders through the DAI courses, assignments and class discussions.
  • For blessings and favor in our new academic partnerships in Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Papua New Guinea.
  • For God’s guidance and wisdom for the directors of the MAOL program as they plan the future of the program.


Side Effects of Letting God In

Friday, June 14th, 2013

067BuenosAires-SpanishColonialChurchOur love and trust in God forms the foundation of everything DAI sets out to do. We cannot teach leadership without teaching the best example of leadership seen in Jesus Christ. We cannot talk about reconciliation without first looking at the garden of Eden and how God intended things to be. Every course in the Masters of Organizational Leadership (MAOL) dives into the Bible.  When students enroll in the MAOL they sign up for a three year journey with God not just an academic degree. Some students were expecting a degree, but valued the surprise God-encounters so much more. As a result of letting God in, leaders’ lives and ministries come into alignment with Him and surprisingly their marriage and family flourish as well. Listen to the testimonies of students to see for yourself.


From The Leaders

Victo B. — Uganda
Biwoye VictoJinja District Local Government

Modules from MAOL have greatly impacted me and my ministry. I have been able to discover myself – the kind of leader I am and also discovered the kind of leaders I am serving with, including my husband. He is a strong motivator, many times I would not understand him. Today, this is no more, and when something shows up and would have upset me earlier, I just smile and thank God for our differences. I now also pray for him specifically because I know more about the weak areas because of his leadership style.


Noel S. — Sri Lanka
Program Manager at World Vision

SL-LBC-11 SYLVESTER, Noel I felt that this was not just a degree course but an experience that transforms my entire life…One day I was having a casual chat with my wife, daughter and son. I was sharing about many things and suddenly my 19 year old daughter told me that I have changed a lot after I started to follow this Master’s degree course. I asked how. She said that I do not get angry at them anymore and I have become more understanding and lovable. My wife and my son readily agreed. My wife said that I have begun to listen to her more and respect her now. This was a shocking revelation for me. All these days I have been thinking that I had a great relationship with them. But my true nature was only revealed that day. I was so thankful to God for bringing me here to the LBC to follow this course of study. I feel I am very fortunate to be a part of the cohort as I believe that not many of us would be able to go through such a valuable course of study that can impact our personal life and bring true transformation.


Tara V. – South Asia

Tara As a result of the MAOL I started spending more time in the presence of God. My manager saw an amazing change in me as did my kids. They say I am less harsh, have much more patience. I learned submission, instead of always having an argument.


Val – South East Asia

I really applied this course first in my life and family, for example, Women in Leadership and Ministry was really a challenge to apply this in the midst of sensitive Burmese culture. I have three sisters whom are considered a secondary people in the family. Now my worldview changed. As I’m the eldest son and responsible for their survival, my treatment of them has changed.



P.S. Khaul — South Asia

DAI took us in from the very beginning in the same way we would adopt an orphan. You gave us love and made us feel needed and wanted without every judging us, even though we didn’t deserve that kind of treatment. You modeled God’s love for us in the way you have treated us.


Karisma B. — Nepal
Finance Manager for Sagoal

KarismaI would like to share here about the course Spiritual Formation. When I just started the first journal assignment (Sept. 2011) for the course God suddenly showed about my relationships with my father. Because at that time there was some distance in our relationship. So I promised to God that I will work or let’s say take a step to restore our relationship. The Holy Spirit helped guide me how to restore our relationship. Slowly I was able to have good relationship with my father. Sadly my father passed away Feb 2012. But I am so thankful to God that he arranged this Spiritual Formation course for me so that I was able to restore my relationship with my father. I’m sure if this course was not there then I wouldn’t have realized how to mend the distance with my father.

The Best Leaders are Servants

Friday, April 12th, 2013

johnwood10For John Wood, “a good leader is someone who encourages and motivates people to get something good or something necessary done. A great leader, the best leaders, are those who accomplish that — who encourage, who motivate, who really get people excited about being a part of something that they’re doing — not by ruling but rather, as Jesus said, by serving…

“To me, the ultimate example of servant leadership, integrity in the Bible is John 13, where just the night before he was crucified, Jesus, having loved his disciples, loved them to the end and took off his robes, put a towel around his waist and did the one thing that no Jewish family could force another Jew who served them to do, and that was wash feet…”

Development Associates International could not agree more. Servant leadership is the core of who we are and what we do to the point that our logo depicts Jesus washing his disciples feet.

John serves as Senior Pastor of Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church, a supporting church of DAI. He shares these thoughts and more on leadership with Knoxville News Sentinel as part of the Leadership Maxims for the 21st Century series. Read the full here.