I spent yesterday morning with my mentor, Wess Stafford, in Colorado Springs. Wess is the President of Compassion International and has been mentoring me for about the past year and a half.
Wess recently celebrated his 30th year working with Compassion. The past 14 have been as the organization’s President. In 1977, when he started with Compassion, the annual budget was 5 million dollars. The 2008 budget will be 341 million! Certainly a lot of money, but consider that they are now caring for more than 900,000 children around the world! In the short time that I have been meeting with Wess that number has grown from 700,000 sponsored children.
Every time I meet with Wess I come away filled with new nuggets of wisdom, a desire to be a more godly leader and a profound passion for children on the margins of society. This trip was no different.
Wess shared with me that when his daughters turned six years old that he began taking them on trips with him each summer. One daughter at a time. They would travel together to one of Wess’ speaking engagements and after he was finished . . . it was fun father and daughter time. Now that his daughters are grown, they remember those trips as some of the most important times in their lives. My daughter Tabitha is eight, I’ve got to start doing that.
Wess travels a zillion miles a year, all around the globe. And he flies coach class. Flying first class would make the travel a whole lot easier (and much more enjoyable). He told me that if he flies first class then many others in the Compassion organization would begin flying first class . . . and consequently Compassion’s overhead would go up. Less money to the children. Wess is a very tall man, but his heart is bigger for the children than it is for his own comfort.
I was up at 4:30 A.M. to catch my flight to Denver. Got in bed at 1 A.M. after returning home. Time spent with Wess . . . invaluable.