A couple of days ago I posted a link to a letter we are sending out asking people for money for our upcoming trip across the country to minister in Santa Cruz, California. One of my fears is that the process of raising support will be misunderstood to be solely a plea for money, or that we will be seen as insensitive.
I’m an American. By virtue of that, I have deeply ingrained thought processes and assumptions about the nature of reality and humanity that, frankly, aren’t true. One of the biggest of these assumptions is that independence is a virtue. Of all of the movements in American pop culture over the past century, name one that has been a movement toward interdependence or selflessness. Having trouble? Perhaps only the civil rights movement and some of the hippie communes of the late 60s and early 70s were movements toward interdependence. And even that dependence was self-serving. Like Frank Sinatra famously sang, the key to being American is saying “I did it my way.”
So, take that assumption, and add it to the equation of raising financial support for a living. I am, for all intents and purposes, a professional depender. I depend on regular financial giving from people who share my passion for seeing the Christ-ian message of grace and forgiveness spread to the corners of the globe from the college campus. Let me restate that. I am the hands, feet, and tongue of Christ on the campus. People that give the money are the heartbeat and life-blood of Christ on campus. Without the heartbeat, I am shipwrecked, and without the hands and feet, my supporters are impotent. We need each other.
I forget that fact far too often in my ministry on campus. I try to disconnect the ministry going on from the people who are really making it happen. What that looks like is sending out letters asking for support and then forgetting to let people in on what God is doing through them on campus. Sometimes when I do personally engage supporters it is self-serving. I often don’t have a mindset of service and worship as I raise support, but instead I frequently have one eye fixed on what’s in it for me. I start to feel entitled to other people’s money. That’s embarrassing to put into words, but it’s true.
So as I send out the letters sitting on the other side of laptop waiting to be stuffed into envelopes, I send them out with the recognition that God is doing something in me just as much as he is doing something through me. Your financial gifts are precious to me, especally during these times of economic uncertainty. Your giving reassures me that you place more trust in the God of the universe than the future of the American economy. What a testimony and encouragement. It is truly an honor to be Christ’s ambassador on campus. God is using your gift not only to reach lost college students, but to reach me. He is changing my mindset toward the whole process of raising support, and helping me to really begin to believe that it is developing partners far more than it is raising dollars. My prayer is that God would use your giving to reach YOU as well.