I’d like for people to think that I am a big, tough guy. Like the summer I worked at the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort in Panama City Beach, FL. I was every bit of a hundred and forty-five pounds, at just over six feet tall. And despite the fact that you could have blown me over with a gentle afternoon breeze, I got hired as a security guard. It turns out, however, that tall plus green SECURITY shirt equals tough, I guess, because I constantly was amazed at the type of dude that appeared visually afraid of me. Typical conversation:
Me: Sir, you are going to have to drink your beer before you get in the pool. Or after you get out.
Burly man with assorted tattoos: Oh, I-I’m sorry! (awkwardly attempts to run while nipple-deep in the pool and holding his beer above his head) I’m getting out!
Yeah, the power of that green shirt was surprising, because underneath it, I was an overly tanned wimp. That was proven time and time again a few years later on the support raising trail. Sure, there were times that I unintentionally baited and switched people into a conversation about support. But I’d wager more times than not, I knowingly retreated from any mention of finances.
At times, people seemed to be lobbing me softballs in anticipation of my asking for support.
Ben: Yeah, we are in full-time ministry as missionaries to the college campus.
Jimmy Moneybags: Oh, that’s great! Do you have to raise funds to do that?
Ben: The best part of the job is seeing student’s lives changed.
Mr Moneybags: I’m sure. My wife and I have supported dozens of missionaries with your organization over the past 25 years.
Ben: We are often on campus late into the evening, though…
Jimmy: …yeah. Actually, a couple we’ve supported at $200 monthly just came off the mission field to take a job at a church.
Ben: I pull for the Tar Heels. Did you happen to catch the score of last night’s game?
Though it never got that bad, it is certain that I missed out on quite a bit of support because I was too chicken to ask.
So now, in retrospect, I give you The Things I Wish I’d Considered. It’s my personal pep talk that I’d love to have had during those weaker moments. May it serve you well if you are currently in support-raising mode.
Thing 1: Odds are, most people are expecting you to ask.
This may come as a surprise, but most people, when you call them and ask them to go grab a bite to eat so that you can share about your ministry and how they can be involved financially and prayerfully, are expecting for you to do that. No need to get sweatier than Bobby Hurley in a slam dunk contest with Vince Carter (combination micro-regional sports reference and personal vendetta against the dook blue devils–the openly demonic college basketball team just down the road from me.) In fact, there’s great reason to ask boldly, see–they’re expecting you to.
Thing 2: It’s not that big of a deal.
In the grand scheme of things, you transitioning this conversation to talk about money is not that big of a deal. You aren’t asking them to marry you. (Unless you are asking them to marry you, in which case I’d suggest waiting until you aren’t at Jersey Mike’s for lunch. Or until you’ve met her family. Slow down, boss.) You are just asking for a monthly check. Here are some things that are far more difficult:
- Bungie Jumping. (or if you are my wife, the swing ride at the fair. Might as well be parachuting from a low flying plane, judging by the level of sheer terror she experiences from a 20 foot elevation change involving a set of slightly crusty chain-style swings and some carnival music. Either way, if I have to choose between a potential life-threatening activity and asking somebody for money, it’s really not that difficult of a choice…)
- 400 Meter Hurdles. (have you ever run all the way around the track? Now try jumping something every so often…significantly more difficult that pronouncing “direct deposit.”)
- Calculus. (I know, because the highest level math I ever took was pre-calculus–and the Religious Studies majors said amen–and that was way harder than asking people for money.)
- Budgeting (asking for money is WAY easier than not spending too much of it. In fact, there’s a direct relationship between you asking for money and making budgeting easier. Let’s two birds/one stone this bad boy.)
Thing 3: It’s a pretty big deal.
In addition to it not being a very big deal, you asking people for money is a really big deal. Like, Sunday morning, big flowery hat, big deal. See, you are giving people an opportunity to worship, with their wallet. And, people need to worship. So, it’s roughly 400% more important that you give people the opportunity to give than that you get their take on last night’s game or this weekend’s weather. No pressure, but you making small talk is just helping people to avoid a genuine confrontation with the creator of the universe. No, go ahead, order another Triple Venti Peppermint Mocha. Take your time.
So buck up, put on your metaphorical green SECURITY shirt, and avoid chickening out. But, in the meantime, let us know: what’s a time in your life that you know you should have done something, but just couldn’t muster up the courage? Comment below!