The line between asking for money too often and not asking enough is a lot like my wife’s internal thermostat and emotional state during pregnancy. There is a fine, moving line between sweating and freezing, and between crying and laughing.
(Sidenote to the single males: This next paragraph might sound like I’m just trying to exaggerate to make things funnier. In reality, I’m scaling back the details so as to not get in trouble with my wife. No, really.)
When my wife was pregnant with our first, car trips were brutal. I am normally the hot-natured of the two of us, but I’d often pack my jacket to slip on over my shirt, in late April, because she’d set the temperature to “southern Antarctica” in our car. And even thoroughly un-pregnant she has never been a fan of sarcasm (and it’s probably certifiably my first language), so it made for some interesting times once her hormones started the click-click-click up the roller-coaster during the first trimester. But I’ve already said too much.
My point is, when you go in search of the line between boldly asking in faith for financial partnership and annoyingly soliciting anybody who walks by for spare cash, you’ll find yourself in a position that makes having 5 pregnant wives look easy. The subjective nature of the “you ask for money too much” accusation makes for some real fun in the lives of missionaries.
It’s like George Carlin famously said about driving:
“Have you ever noticed that anyone going slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?”
It’s really rare to find someone who will say about our ministry “You ask for money just the right amount of times.”
Here’s what folks say instead:
That Ben Merideth (people even misspell my last name when speaking it) is a maniac. All he ever does is ask for money. Reckless, that’s what it is. Somebody is gonna get mad, what with all the solicitation going on. Sure, he sent that postcard where he didn’t ask for money, but that was just to butter us up to ask for more money with the next one. Yep, it’s true, he only gets in touch with us for the sake of padding his pocket. He’s the Creflo Dollar of campus ministry. Does he drive a Rolls Royce?
(As a pertinent sidenote to missionaries, if you actually do only communicate with your ministry partners when you need money, um, quit it.)
But if they don’t say that, they likely say this:
Well no wonder he doesn’t have enough money coming in. He’s only asked for money twice this whole year. Doesn’t he know the old sales adage “your best prospects are your current customers?” He needs to get more aggressive with the asking. And he needs to stop going 55 in the fast lane.
Ok, so maybe I mixed up my examples there at the end, but you get the point. Trying to hit the sweet spot in asking for cash is as possible as shooting an arrow through a pudding cup on the back of a tilt-a-whirl cart at the state fair, from 200 yards. When it’s windy.
What do you think? How often should a missionary send out appeals for cash? (Non-missionary answers appreciated most, but if you are a missionary you can feel free to chime in.) Let us know in the comments.