There's No Competition in God's Kingdom Work
I love radical ideas and I love living a radical life for Jesus. I live with strong convictions and a passion for seeking after God’s heart. Even as a MGO, I am called to live radically in my kingdom position of raising resources for God’s work. Can I get real with you for a moment?
There’s a “tension” that creeps into my heart every once and awhile. Maybe you feel it too. It’s where my two worlds collide: raising money to support our budget for the fiscal year vs. ministering to the hearts of God’s people who support our ministry. If we do the latter God’s way, the former will be the end result, right? But too often, when we’re going through lean months or revenue projections are not being met, we can easily get caught up in reverting to our old ways of doing things. The unspoken pressure to “raise more money” and “do more” starts to become overwhelming and anxiety takes over. Is this really how God wants us to be? I don’t think so.
Can we call it what it really is? We’re chasing money. We’re often going after the same wealthy people time after time, aren’t we? Why do we do that? Because they have capacity. Is that what the LORD asks us to do? My heart always wrestles with this when I remember James 2:2-4:
“Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes,and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, ‘Here’s a good seat for you,’ but say to th poor man, ‘You stand there’ or ‘Sit on the floor by my feet,’ have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”
Let’s call it what it is. We show favoritism. It’s what we do. “But Steve,” you say, “That’s the nature of our business. Major gift-raising is going to those with capacity to fund our ministries.” I know. I’m just being honest with you. What about the widow and her two mites? Jesus says she “gets it” and we should be more like her in our giving. Maybe we lose our kingdom perspective sometimes as we work diligently to meet our year-end goals? Maybe we just need to make sure we’re connected to THE vine and on our knees more often. Isn’t God more concerned about what He is doing in me than through me?
Pure Hearts in Raising Kingdom Resources
Scott Rodin says it perfectly in his book, The 7 Deadly Sins of Christian Fundraising, about “being unprepared for the battle.” Rodin goes on to say, “I believe that who you are as a child of God and where you are in your relationship with Jesus Christ is more important than all the tools you will learn in all the seminars and all the conferences that you will attend for the rest of your development life.” (Emphasis added) But Scott, we like formulas and models that always work for us to raise money. We idolize spreadsheets, and slave away at forecasts and 5-year strategic plans, too. Sounds like the good ol’ American business model if you ask me.
So, why do we default to the world’s way of thinking? We are called to a higher standard: Engaging the people of God to grow their hearts to be more generous to the kingdom. It’s a different mindset and way of thinking (Romans 12:2). We can get so addicted to our iPhones, iPads, and computers that we often neglect the most primary relationship we have at our disposal to be successful at our jobs. Amen?
A Radical Idea
Here’s a radical idea that I believe would make God smile on those of us who are privileged to be raising kingdom resources.
What would happen if kingdom-minded development professionals collaborated together and served the heart of the giver and what the giver loves to give to . . . over our own organization? (Psalm 133:1)
Blasphemy? I say, that’s Romans 12:2 in action. My friend Chuck Colson would say, it’s “the Church being the Church!”
There are no silos in what we do. Jim Daly does not own Focus on the Family; Jim Liske does not own Prison Fellowship and Franklin Graham doesn’t own Samartian’s Purse. They steward those organizations and realize it is God who owns the ministry. There is no competition in God’s kingdom work. God doesn’t see it that way, why do we?
The next time you open your Outlook and start reading emails and spreadsheets and looking at databases and feeling that tension start to creep into your heart . . . push back from your desk and take a deep breath and get re-connected to the Vine. Remind yourself: “I play to an audience of One. Who does God want me to minister to today?”
Lets’ be faithful every day and invest in people by sowing seeds of generosity no matter how much money they have. It’s about controlling inputs, not outputs. That’s up to Him.
Steve Cummings is the Senior Director of Development for Prison Fellowship Ministries
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