[quote style=”boxed”]I don’t settle anymore. Hold out for the best![/quote]
Steve Edwards is the founder and president of Global Passion Ministries, a Christian nonprofit that coordinates the logistics of short-term mission trips and trains the teams it sends for better outcomes. Its teams travel worldwide to help with medical clinics, church plants, food distribution, construction, orphanage visits and evangelism. Steve, a former youth pastor and an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God, started the organization in the fall of 2001. It has since sent thousands of people to countries such as Ecuador, Fiji, Poland, Ireland, Nicaragua, Haiti, Cambodia and Zimbabwe. Steve has been to more than 70 countries and has personally lead 60 to 70 teams. Steve regularly speaks at events and churches nationwide. On the field, he loves connecting with young people and watching their eyes open to the need around the world. He is married with two adult daughters. Steve loves spy novels, Mexican food, golf, Orange Mango Schweppes soda in Fiji and his hot mama of a wife.
Where did the idea for Global Passion Ministries come from?
When I was a youth pastor in 1996, I went to China on a missions trip and saw firsthand how it changed the lives of my students. They came home with a greater appreciation for what they had and a heart to help the less fortunate in their own country. They became more invested in making change in our world and open to the idea that it is possible. I got involved with the organization that sent this team and began to learn the business from its leader. As I worked side-by-side with him, I found myself thinking that there were better ways to accomplish the same goal. While there were many positive aspects of what this organization was doing, I knew that there was a better way to fit the needs of our overseas contacts than sending them cookie cutter teams with their own agenda. I saw a huge need that wasn’t being met through the existing teams traveling. When the organization I worked for folded, I decided to put into place the philosophy I had for what short-term missions teams could be.
What does your typical day look like?
My typical day can be one of two extremes, depending on the season.
Much of the year it’s:
Coffee, prayer, phone, phone, phone, people, phone, computer (yuk), phone, phone, people and sleep!
In the spring and summer months I lead missions teams worldwide. All bets are off there, but a day could include: long hours on a bus, medical clinics, feeding programs, orphanage visits, construction, long hours on a plane, sweat, prayer, preaching at church services, fending off mosquitoes … etc.
On a daily basis, there is a lot of networking required for my job. It comes down to spending time with people and developing partnerships with other ministries and groups. In this regard, much of what I do requires me to be away from the office, so I use technology to bring the office with me.
How do you bring ideas to life?
My team is key here. I express ideas and cast vision, and they bring the ideas to life. I’ve endeavored to surround myself with very talented and creative people. I seek staff members with like hearts and passion. Ideally they come with talents that complement each other and make each of our jobs easier. It’s important to me that I have staff with a variety of viewpoints. They help me see my blind spots and we work together to fill out the parts of the picture I’m not seeing.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Young people from the countries we travel are asking to replicate our business in their countries. It’s amazing when we can connect young people from different cultures in a common idea of helping their fellow man. I love seeing them recognize their God-given talents can be used to impact the world.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I’m a list maker. It keeps me focused on a project. I have a tendency to get distracted. If I don’t write it down, it doesn’t get done. But I also think it’s important to be continually looking toward the big picture and recalibrating to make sure we are headed toward our end goal.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
It was more about the boss than the job. He was a hard man to please and very insecure. He piled on the work load and then micromanaged me to death, all the while not trusting my decisions or my motives. I learned what kind of boss I didn’t want to be. The one thing he was really good at was confrontation, which is a necessary part of being a leader. I still use the lessons I learned from him.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Not start alone. Building a team is crucial and helps share the load while getting the job done faster. The best ideas rise to the surface when a team is involved to help refine them and shape them.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Learn! Never let yourself become comfortable and feel like you’ve made it. The world changes so fast, and if I don’t change with it I will get left behind. The other thing is to hold your current methods loosely. We have regular debriefs that help us examine how our season went and what we can change to better prepare and train teams. There are always better ways to do what we are doing.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
I still feel like we are scratching out new strategies continually. We have definitely not hit our stride yet. I guess you could say that my desire to be the best at what we do keeps me hungry to learn and motivates me to continue to stretch. We have learned that we need to take a multifaceted approach to growth. It can’t be just marketing or networking or outreach at conventions or increasing our staff, it has to be all of the above working in tandem. We also believe in making personal connections and partnerships with people and finding new ways to share stories of great things that have happened on our trips. That helps others buy into our goals and join in. Our regular customers are the best champions of our cause, so we are continually working to build that network.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Early on, I didn’t believe that there were talented staff out there would join me in my vision, so I accepted the first person to come along. I settled for what was easy. I wasn’t willing to take criticism and yielded to pressure to settle. (Mostly self-inflicted pressure) I didn’t listen to my mentor and take his advice. It would have made a world of difference if I had. And it would have saved me a lot of heartache later on.
I don’t settle anymore. Hold out for the best!
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I would like to see the invention of temperature-managed clothing. In other words, clothing that could set the temperature to either cool you down or warm you up, but without being bulky or obvious or ugly. This would be great in the hot and humid countries we travel to. Even if it’s 90 degrees and 100 percent humidity, I could just turn down the temperature of my shirt to stay comfortable.
Also, if someone could figure out teleportation, that would help us a lot.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
I traveled all through high school singing tenor and playing bass in a southern gospel quartet with my father and two brothers. We recorded two albums. (Sadly, they are not on iTunes).
What software and web services do you use?
We use Net Ministries, which hosts our web site, and Microsoft access for our database.
For applications, we rely on Team Viewer, which allows us to access our computers remotely, Evernote, for keeping track of documents and ideas and Dropbox. And in this business, we get a lot of use out of GPS and apps like Flight Aware.
What do you love about them?
Our web hosting and database services are functional but not great. We hope to upgrade them and find more user friendly versions in the future. The nature of being in the nonprofit world is that we are often a step behind in this area. The application services we use, like TeamViewer and Dropbox , are pivotal in helping us continue to operate while we travel. Since I am gone a lot, I love being able to access files at my desk computer without having to have multiple copies of documents. It keeps things all in one place and at my fingertips at all times.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. It helped me teach my team how to communicate and work more effectively together. Great book!
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
Jon Acuff – [email protected]
Andrew McCourt – @andrewmccourt, www.cfcbelfast.com
Mark Batterson – @markbatterson
Tim Elmore – www.growingleaders.com
Steve Edwards’ Email: [email protected]
Steve Edwards on Twitter: @sedwards57
Global Passion Ministries on Twitter: @goglobalpassion
Global Passion Ministries on Facebook:
Global Passion Ministries’ Blog:
Global Passion Ministries on Instagram: @globalpassion
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.