Vol 5, Num 8 :: 2006.04.21 — 2006.05.05
God has a lot of work he?d like to do with me. I?m beginning to think that much of that work has to do with my relationship with money. I can no longer feign ignorance in my own relationship with money and stuff.
I have been motivated to speak, write and encourage others in our relationship to excess stuff. I?ve been convicted that we, as a culture and as individuals, have a propensity to value our possessions more than people. Over the years, the problem of stuff and idolatry has only become more apparent as a struggle for me and just about everyone I know.
I think our relationship with stuff has a lot to do with our relationship to money and vice versa. I continue to find myself in situations where I must confront my own issues with money and stuff. I confess here and now that I want more stuff and have a hard time being content with what I have. I also have a strange relationship with money. I desire to hold on to what I have very tightly. Tithing has become a spiritual discipline for me; it has become a symbolic gesture of entrusting my money, and all of who I am, to the care of God. It is very scary, but a good and obedient act for me to not hold onto every penny I earn.
My family did not grow up with wealth or a full pantry most of the time. The desire to hoard what I do have is a natural response to my lean growing up years. Even though I know where the urge comes from, I know that this isn?t how God wants me to be. I think he wants me to mature, trust him, relax and let go.
For the past several years, I?ve worked as a personal fundraiser, fundraising trainer and professional fundraiser for the Coalition for Christian Outreach (a college ministry) whose mission of transforming college students to transform the world I believe in. Despite my struggles with entrusting God with everything I am and own, I?ve found myself in a work context where I talk about money with individuals on a daily basis.
I?ve become more comfortable talking about money in part because of my vocational emphasis. There is another reason, too. I like to talk about money in my relationships with others because I don?t think such discussions are ever about the money?I think they’re about our hearts. How we spend money, how we tithe, how we hold onto our money all reflect the things we care about. The privilege of my job has been to connect people and their giving with a great ministry. I enjoy my job.
I?ve learned many life lessons from my co-laborers and from those I invite to participate financially in the work of the CCO. I?ve learned that generosity is a characteristic of God and that when we live and give generously, we image God. I?ve learned that the more freely I give, the fuller and richer my life is. I?ve learned that giving is important whether living in scarcity or abundance.
As a fundraising practitioner, I?ve learned many good interpersonal communication lessons that I?ve been able to incorporate into my non-work relationships as well. I?ve learned that it isn?t respectful to ?say no? for someone before I even ask them to donate time or money to the work of the CCO. I?ve learned how important it is for me to communicate thankfulness to financial supporters. Donors who stop giving do so because they don?t feel like their gift made a difference?it?s my job to communicate with them that their gift does make an incredible difference. I?ve learned different strategies for long-term or short-term fundraising. I?ve learned that nothing beats face to face conversations with prospective supporters. I?ve learned that if I only care about the money someone may or may not give, I objectify them and do not love them. I?ve learned to care more about the individuals than their money. If they cannot donate because God is calling them to use their money is other ways, I am sincerely fine with it. I?ve learned that my job is to get a decision and to trust God that whatever decision I receive (yes or no) from a prospective donor is the right one for them. I?ve learned through as many mistakes as I have successes.
I?m still formulating what characterizes a biblical approach to fundraising. I?m able to glean a lot from my teachers, John Rosso, Bob Long, Dan Dupee, Marsha Dugan and Herb Kolbe. I do know that fundraisers give others an opportunity to be a part of what God is doing in the world.
It has been a gift for me to be on the receiving end of so many generous gifts. My livelihood is dependent on other people?s giving. This has only been a positive experience for me as I have deeper friendships with many because they are a part of my vocation through the giving of their gifts, I?m accountable to my supporters to do my work well, I?m supported by many individuals in my calling, and my paycheck comes from people?which is a deep joy for me.
At this season of my life, God has placed a specific calling on my life?to redeem personal fundraising. I see daily examples of fundraising done poorly, without respect or good interpersonal communication. Because I see fundraising as such a good gift, it?s my desire to practice fundraising the way God intended it to be and to teach others, who wish to learn, likewise.
Like anything created, fundraising is fallen and is in need of redemption. God has put me together in such a way that redeeming fundraising is all I want to do. Like anything fallen and in need of renewal?sexuality, sociology, art, biology, etc.?I believe fundraising will be present on the new earth. It is my hope that God will use the desire of my heart to further grow his Kingdom and that he would continue to teach me many good things.