A Conversation with LWW's Executive Director
Living Waters for the World's Executive Director Steve Young sat down with our podcast team recently to discuss the state of the organization and what he is excited about for 2022 and beyond - below is some of that conversation. Click here to listen to the full podcast episode.
Steve, pictured above right, with LWW Founder Wil Howie at Clean Water U at Hopewell Camp and Conference Center in Oxford, MS
Q: How is Living Waters for the World doing?
First and foremost, we're thankful that clean water continues to flow. Our operating partners throughout the world continue to be the heroes of their communities, helping people stay healthy. And our international staff have done a wonderful job of staying in touch with our operating partners during the pandemic.
Overall, things are ever changing. I think all of us are trying to adjust to a “new normal” - a common term we hear these days - as if that’s finite and has already happened. Well, that's not true. It's a continuum. We are very fortunate that Living Waters for the World is a relationship-driven organization and those relationships are deep and are loyal, forged over time. These relationships have allowed us the grace to weather this time of COVID and global unrest, and find the opportunity that lies within.
Q: What is an example of such an opportunity?
Our initiating partners (our water teams and those who support them) have been innovators, not wanting to stay on the sidelines. They are developing ways to engage using technology so that clean water can flow in new sites and also provide a means to follow up with their existing partners. In short, they are rising to the occasion when times are difficult and it is an inspiration to witness.
Q: What is exciting you about our ministry for 2022?
Teams are traveling again, after what, for all intents and purposes, has been a two-year travel hiatus. Teams will be able to be face to face with their partners again – to break bread together, to reestablish and deepen their relationships.
However, what is most exciting for me is that we are taking what we have learned while we were navigating the pandemic and have begun the process of weaving that into our organization. A great example would be what we call a hybrid partnership, which simply means that partners are coming together either physically, virtually, or both. One may be involving partners “here” and partners “there” to work with a community with contaminated water so that clean water may flow. In other words, we are expanding how we do what we do so that our mission is accomplished.
Q: How do we ensure that relationships are still central?
Being physically together over multiple visits is certainly a wonderful way to maintain and grow relationships. As for these partnership innovations, I would point us back to what we discussed earlier about our water teams innovating during COVID. Their desire to use technology to check in with their existing partners is because those relationships matter. Technology in this case is a vehicle to maintain and deepen relationships. Living Waters for the World seeks to take a “both-and”, or “yes-and”, approach. We believe that there is room for both innovation and established practices, and that we can learn from each other as we seek to fulfill our call. That being said, as we explore these other ways to partner, we will have to be intentional in providing the space for relationships to be developed and elevated above the transactional.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
It is always important to stop and ask, “Why?”. Why are we here? Why are we doing what we do, the way we are doing it? These are gut-check moments. And I think that it's a healthy exercise for every organization to do. Every business. Every church. Every ministry like ours.
I recently had a conversation with one of our best, The Rev. Todd Jenkins, who likes to frame it this way: If your organization was suddenly gone tomorrow, who would miss you and why? And the answer to that question points you toward your “why”. As for Living Waters for the World, we believe that all of God’s children deserve clean water to drink, now and throughout their lives. This will always be our North Star.