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I’ve recently accepted for a job at a large, youth evangelism organization. This is a big step for me, as I assumed I’d be an architect by now, but apparently God had other plans for my life. Here’s the thing though: I’ll have to raise support. And to be totally honest, I feel really odd about asking my friends and family for money. Any thoughts on how to resolve this tension that I’m feeling?
Frank Lloyd Wrong
What an interesting story you must have! I can’t imagine what transpired in your heart and mind that took you from pursuing being an architect to accepting a ministry job. Kudos for being bold and allowing your steps to be reordered in such a dramatic way.
To your question though, what indeed is the “right” way to view raising support? And for those not familiar with Christianese, “raising support” is our code for asking people to pay the salary of our Christiany job. Which, if you cringed a bit at that definition, is how many of us feel when faced with the prospect of hitting up our loved ones to pay our rent. That is, unless we reframe our thinking…
Raising Support Can Be Community Building
Here’s the thing, I know it feels weird to ask someone for something because, if you’re like me, we’ve been taught to not be “takers.” I distinctly remember being sent to a sleepover when I was little and told to not ask for things and only humbly accept that which was offered. In a broader context, we’re taught in America that anyone can make it if they just lace up their boots and make it happen. In short, independence is valued and dependence is scorned.
This is not the case with God. Over and over again, God asks us to lean not on our own understanding but to trust Him with the outcomes. Clearly, you’ve experienced this, because somehow your best idea (being an architect) was not God’s highest and best use for your career. Even though I’m sure, you struggled with the idea of making a drastic shift in vocation, eventually, you just jumped off the ledge and trusted that God knew what He was doing.
Such is the case with raising support. It is a joy, for the people who love you, to watch you trust—and obey—God’s plan for your life. And while you may feel like a taker, think of it from the other perspective. Would you, for a second, be offended if a really kind friend reached out and shared with you what God was doing in their life and asked you to financially give to that work?
Of course you wouldn’t! Because you and I both know that everything we have is just stuff that’s been entrusted to us. And our job is to do all we can to leverage our lives, our time and our money to support those things God deems important.
Believe me, it feels awkward as heck to ask. I’ve done it both as an individual and as a pastor talking about the tithe. But to not ask is to deny people one kind of opportunity to leverage their life in support of what God is doing (through you). The asking isn’t about you, it’s about something larger than you—and people love being challenged to be a part of that. Unless…
Raising Support Can Become Destructive
There is another side to raising support that, if not paid attention to, can be counterproductive. And for this, we turn to some bullet point warnings:
1. You’ve got to be very sure that God is calling you to this work. Of course, I have no doubt that you are being moved into this position. But also, many have come before you that have taken their own aspirations and pinned them on being “called”—when in fact they weren’t. Raising financial support is, at its core, completely dependent on God being in it. If He is, awesome. If not, well you may have a difficult road.
2. Not all of your friends will understand what you’re doing. Even those who identify themselves as Christ-followers may not yet fully understand the point of tithing, giving to charity or supporting you in your work. When you encounter those folks, be gracious. Them saying no isn’t between you and them, it’s between them and God.
3. Even when people understand the importance of generosity, they still may just say no (or not reply at all)—and you won’t know why. These are going to be the tough pills to swallow as it might feel like they’re rejecting you along with rejecting supporting you. Don’t go there, especially if there’s no historical evidence of them having any issue with you.
Sometimes, people just aren’t ready to give. Either because they don’t have the money and are embarrassed to acknowledge it, or simply because they’re just not feeling like this is the right thing at the right time. Whatever the case may be, this isn’t you. Remember, you’re offering the option to engage in a broader story, they’re making the decision to take it or not. You just worry about your job and keep plugging away.
At the end of the day, raising support and being funded as a missionary is nothing new. Paul gave multiple encouragements to support the work of those in vocational ministry. However, Paul also had a vocation (tent making) that helped him pay the rent while being supported as a missionary, which is what I think the model for every pastor and missionary should be—but that’s a different soapbox for a different day.
The bottom line is: It’s biblical to ask for support, it’s biblical to give financially to the work of the Kingdom, and I think you’ll be surprised by the number of people who are delighted to be on this journey with you.
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