Work and let working
We have inherited that work is a necessary evil, even though it is a nobler, much greater privilege to work. In every field of work there are things that people don't like, it would be naive to say that everything is perfect. However, few dare to say that they love their work. But if it's true, there's no need to hide it. Ábel Lukács Kiss, the director of the Dorcas Ministries Foundation, is not afraid to say it, but there is really no need for it, people see the dedication in his actions even without words. In today's article, you can find out what it's like to be the head of a foundation, what difficulties arise and what path led to where you are now.
What does your job consist of? What is your average day like? What types of tasks do you have?
I am responsible for the fundraising and economic activities of the Dorcas Ministries Foundation, I shoulder the legal responsibility, and I organize the main projects with the help of the six-member management team. The board of trustees entrusted me with carrying out the activities at Dorcas at a high professional level, which were formulated in the founding document.
In practice, this means a lot of meetings, my day is structured in such a way that 60% of it is allocated to meetings, when we discuss with the managers how they are doing, who has what problems and how we can solve them. One half of this is communication within the organization, the other part is external communication, which includes contact with domestic and foreign supporters, pastors, and partner organizations through video conferences and personal meetings. The remaining 40% is individual work. I like dedicating a few hours to being able to work calmly and to put work on the table that represents a high professional standard.
What did you prepare for as a child? How did you find this occupation?
I will tell you something very disappointing: when I was 3-4 years old, I told my parents that I wanted to be a garbage man, because I really liked them jumping up and down from the car. The acquaintances of my pastor parents, when they asked "What will you be when you grow up?", everyone expected me to say that I would become a pastor. I said I wanted to be a garbage man. Humor aside, more serious things came into my life after my conversion at the age of 13, when I realized that it does matter how I spend my time. Before that, I was in a state of complete uncertainty, I tried to look for self-validation or an explanation of whether I was good at something from many sides.
Thank God, I was good in many things, but I was not excellent at anything, but I learned to play musical instruments, I was a scout, these areas added a lot to my personality, especially in terms of how people work and how we can work together in a team.
The question arose in me, why was I born, what is my task? Pastoral work was very much in my heart, and I really liked teaching and holding Bible classes. I came to Australia as a volunteer for 2 years, and after moving home I became a teacher. I let the pastoral thing go in such a way that I didn't want to be a full-time pastor, but I still wanted to deal with it a little, and as a result, I have been serving as a presbyter in the life of the congregation for more than 10 years.
My principle was that my work should be useful, that I could help and serve with it, I was not interested in position, money and prestige, but that I would be useful and that people could rely on me. What mattered was that the colleagues, the beneficiaries, my wife and my children stood on my shoulders, so that I could provide them with support, and not that I searched from whom I could ask for help. This is very deep in me, the pastor parents also strengthened this pattern in me and my grandfather, who was a deacon. He dealt with the most miserable in Debrecen, during the darkest period of communism. It kind of came down to me as a legacy.
What kind of training did you need to do this?
I graduated in pedagogy and English teaching, so I have a diploma in that. I completed a minor in theology, which I studied in Australia. My wife and I recently graduated from Bible school.
There is no specific training to lead an organization. I could have continued my studies in a course related to this, but I realized that people absorb this knowledge over time. It's a bit like when you start building a house and slowly learn all the trades.
How do you maintain a balance between work and personal life?
I built my roles so that if my family fell apart, I would completely lose my credibility. My wife and I discussed that relationships will be a priority for us.
I feel that I have maintained a balance between private life and work when I can say about all four of my children that I knew them, I was there for them, I spent the night with them, they shared their things with me, so I was able to spend quality "daddy time" with them, and when I can also spend quality time with my wife.
When did you first feel like "yes, this is it, this is what I've been looking for, this is my place"?
The first three years were very hard, I was still teaching part-time. On my part, it was also a trial period to see if I would stay in the teaching position or if I would be able to stand my ground at Dorcas as well, where I worked as a project manager, then I became an executive and later a director, there was a gradation in this. In those three years, it was all a big question for me in terms of self-confidence. It took me a while to realize that yes, I am capable of this and I have the skills to make Dorcas a success.
After gaining experience, after so many failures, the ever-increasing success experiences, positive feedback and the power of art therapy brought me the feeling that after three years, this is my place, I can imagine retiring from here. If the interview had been done in the first three years, I would have said something different. It seemed like a huge burden, with unimaginable and unsolvable problems.
The other thing that meant a lot to me was that I received an assignment from the city. A Charity Board was formed and Dorcas was also invited here. A former director of Dorcas, was its president at the time. I thought that in 10-20 years I might get such a commission. After 2 years, I received the invitation to be the chairman of the Charity Board. It was such an honor and responsibility for me that it gave me immeasurable motivation to coordinate the work of 17 aid organizations at the city level. I was very happy because I got an insight into the functioning of organizations in Debrecen, which gave me a great boost professionally. It also added a lot to being here now.
What difficulties did you encounter during your work?
At the very beginning, when Dorcas was still much smaller, I did not inherit a team when I left the Dutch parent organization, because when I came here, a generational change was underway.
How you choose people and how you manage them matters a lot when building an organization. As a beginner - when I was given the task - there was a fundamental naivety on my part that I had to fill Dorcas with like-minded people, which has a kind of truth, since we still think similarly from certain points of view. If you look at Dorcas team, which now has 40 people, you can see that there are very different people in it. At the time, I thought it was easy to work with people who were like me. This attitude has failed several times, because if I hire people with the same strengths, there will always be someone who is not the team's strength.
I'm not a process-oriented person, so it's hard for me to get into the processes, it's hard for me to see the details and I have a hard time thinking in broad terms. Many tasks got stuck wondering what the next step would be. As long as I was looking for results-oriented people like me to join the group, we kept getting stuck in the same place.
It took me a few years to learn that I don't need to be afraid of someone different than me and reacting differently to things. Now I am especially happy about these cases, I even enjoy and celebrate how good it is that he sees things differently than I do. They add a color that I would never have been able to do and I am happy for their success that they can fulfill themselves in this.
My vision is for Dorcas to be a workplace for everyone, where they use their strengths and are allowed to use them and can soar in it. I want everyone to think about their work that way.
...TO BE CONTINUED IN THE NEXT ARTICLE.