Something we hear regularly from those raising support is that they have no one else left to invite to partner with them.
Truth or myth?
You might start off with a list of 280 people after trawling through your ‘friends’ on Facebook. But we all know with Facebook, we have to ask the question, how many of these people are really my friends?
Maybe you scrap that idea and instead go for the contacts in your phone – that’s a bit more reasonable. These are, after all, people who have given you their phone number! You add to the list those that you see every week at church, maybe family members that you don’t see that often.
Then you dig right into the past: old youth group leaders, old work mates, people who used to live next door. Now we’re on a roll – people who came to your wedding, people that you’ve invested in spiritually or those who have invested in you.
You end up with a massive list of potential partners. This is great.
You start to cast your eye down the list and imagine yourself having conversations with these people.
Now, I wouldn’t ask Chloe because I know her income is below mine.
I wouldn’t want to ask Colin because he and Belinda have had a very hard time recently.
I wouldn’t want to ask Philip because I don’t know what he thinks about people asking for financial support.
I don’t want to ask Grace because I haven’t been in touch with her for a really long time.
The truth is, we tend to discount potential partners by deciding for them. We easily discount those we know based on why we think they wouldn’t want or be able to partner with us, rather than letting them decide. Deciding for people comes from our owns fears or insecurities about inviting others to partner with us in what we are called to do.
Let’s look at just one of the issues presented above – people that we think don’t have very much to give.
We know from Paul’s dealings with the Philippians that they gave to him even though they had very little. The Philippian church was part of the Macedonian group of churches, in 2 Corinthians we read:
‘And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.’ (8:1-2, NIV)
Paul describes how it was the grace of God to the Macedonian churches that meant they gave generously, beyond what they were able.
How does someone give beyond what they are able, whilst in the midst of severe trials and still count that as a privilege? If you read on from the verses above, you will see that the churches had given themselves first to the Lord and then to Paul. They received and experienced the grace of God for themselves and then in turn they showed grace and generosity to Paul.
Paul was very enthusiastic about the giving of the Philippians, but not because of how he was going to benefit. He says in Philippians 4:
‘Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account.’ (4:17, NIV)
Paul had a good understanding of the importance of Christian giving. The giving does a work in the heart of the giver. They are the ones who receive the blessing, they are the ones to whose ‘account’ it is credited.
So next time you feel like crossing people off your list of potential partners, just remember you could actually be excluding them from blessing.
A much better approach is to allow people the option of choosing whether to be in your partner team or not. The only way for that to happen is for you to invite them and then… let them decide. You’ll find there are a lot more people to invite than you thought.
Great post Jo! We've always been surprised by those who give and by those who don't so it's futile making the decision for them.
Thanks Richard, I totally agree - we don't want to do anyone out of the opportunity to be involved in kingdom work by giving.
Very useful insight. Thank you.
To flip this (excellent article) I'd encourage boldness in givers and potential supporters to enquire about the needs of Christian Workers, or to be so audacious as to ask about financial support before the ‘ask’.
Asking for support is often fraught with anxiety for those starting out, an experience akin to ‘walking the plank’ and as a result I feel the need to make the first 'ask' a positive, encouraging, and uplifting experience. To get the ball rolling early, which helps preparations for ministry.
As a family we have a modest giving budget, but we've been honoured to be amongst the first* to support individuals in missions or heading to Bible College, simply because we were cognizant of the probable need before the individual had begun to consider how to ask.
This allowed us to shape thought on giving and receiving (Kingdom economics), to build confidence in the individual that people will want to partner or invest in them personally, as well as the work that they will be undertaking, AND primarily that Jehovah Jireh will provide; as He has always done in our own family story.
*it's not a race!