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Agenda or Kingdom Driven? By Steve Cummings

Agenda Driven or Kingdom Driven?


Conventional wisdom dictates that non-profit development officers have one agenda: Raise money.  Job descriptions now list so many metrics and functions that only a Galilean from Nazareth could fulfill this role.  We have made “ministry in the name of Jesus” a corporate business and structured our non-profits like Fortune 500 companies complete with all the buzz words and metrics to ensure success and profitability – whatever that means.

Not long ago “building relationships” became the new trend.  That’s how we get the big gift! – build a long-term relationship with the giver, right?  In other words, use this tactic to fulfill your agenda.   I realize we report to CDO’s, CEO’s and board members who are holding our feet to the fire to produce more giving than what it costs to employ us, the proverbial elephant in the room.  It’s no wonder our average length of stay as a development officer is 18 months.

But if we all believe God owns the ministry we work for, then why do we use our methods to “secure gifts”?  What if we looked at our roles as more than raising money?  What if we had a kingdom-driven mindset and wanted something for the giver and not from the giver? What would God do with that?

Givers aren’t dumb.  They know how this “game” can be played.  They know an inauthentic relationship when they see one.  Deep trust in a relationship can take more than 18 months to build . . . but the outcome . . . is up to God, and He can do some amazing things we never saw coming.

One Giver Who “Gets It”

“How much of God’s money should we give to (name of ministry)?”  That was the text Barry sent me as his plane taxied away. My response? “I don’t know. You’ll have to ask Him. I do know this: you will want it to be a game-changer.”

Barry and I developed a deep friendship over those years, enjoying baseball games, good food, and intimate times discussing how God was working in our lives. Barry is a kingdom-minded giver.  He knew I wasn’t after his wallet to meet any goals or my agenda.  We still talk about the other charities he loves and he tells me God-stories about them and we just marvel together.

We had talked for 5 years about a $250K gift when he sold his company. Now that day had arrived. Six weeks later I brought our CEO out to meet Barry at a baseball game.  I had given Barry a list of 7 major items the ministry needed that totaled over $10 million.  He chose the top two and committed to half of those amounts as a matching gift.  Total amount of his new gift? $2.25 million!

Did I do anything special to “get the gift”?  No.  Did I make sure I did “moves management” with him? No. What was the key?  I merely put into action the second commandment Jesus gave us: “Love others as you love yourself.”  I loved on Barry with no strings attached.

Develop a High EQ

We can’t love anyone until we love ourselves – not in the narcissistic way, but in being confident in who we are in Christ without the masks, false beliefs about ourselves, and with great awareness of our inner person. I have found that having a high EQ is imperative in order to be authentic in a relationship.

When we look inside ourselves first and allow the Holy Spirit to do His sanctification work on our brokenness, and open ourselves up to our givers – we will be amazed at the depth of authentic relationship we will have.  When that happens – generosity flows. Why? Because it’s not about the money. People resonate with vulnerability and open up their hearts in return.

Measuring Fruit

This is where executive leadership and board members will face the tension of measuring a development person’s worth.  Is it about doing more for the ministry and growing every year? That’s our human nature.  God works in an entirely different realm. He knocks walls down in Jericho. He makes water flow from a rock. He parts seas and He moves mountains. Why? Because He’s more interested in what He is doing in us than through us. We tend to think the ministry won’t survive unless we do it our way.

What would happen if we shifted our focus to the eternal and away from our agendas?


Steve Cummings, M.Div. has served three different ministries over the past 12 years in development and is currently the Director of Development at The HopeQuest Ministry Group, Inc. in Atlanta, GA.

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