Giving it away?
Money follows ministry
One of the most enriching spiritual disciplines for any ministry is to devote a portion of its own hard-earned income to the care of others — outside the realm of their own ministry’s operation.
Take, say, the equivalent of one month a year — a twelfth of all your ministry’s income — and designate it for a completely unrelated ministry.
- A ministry which produces a television or radio program can support a neighborhood ministry to the homeless.
- A stateside ministry can give to an overseas outreach.
- A literature ministry can be a blessing to a feeding ministry — and vice versa.
Such a concept may feel hopelessly radical. We are trapped by a persistent attitude of “How much will it net?”
Our single-mindedness is admirable — it’s all for the sake of the ministry, we tell ourselves — but our admirable single-mindedness may eventually harden the heart.
We detach from the painful realities of other people’s worlds — those of our own donors, as well as of people beyond the sweep of our own ministry. We get tunnel vision, and in the tunnel, everything is about us.
Committing ourselves to sacrifice, to giving something away — something we need, something that we could do a lot of good with — helps us see out of our tunnel.
“But we’re struggling to make ends meet!” a ministry leader may counter. “We’re devoting ourselves completely to what God has called us to do — and we’re already doing without for the sake of the ministry.”
Yet in Isaiah 58:4-12, God’s people were doing more or less this very thing — devoting themselves to God’s calling and doing without — and still winding up competing with each other.
In their situation, their devotion to God was expressed through fasting — yet their fasting was ending “in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other.”
This might be a picture of well-intentioned ministries pursuing their God-given missions yet jockeying relentlessly for position in the marketplace.
On the heels of this unpleasant assessment, God speaks through Isaiah to offer a different approach:
“Share your food with the hungry … provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked … clothe him …
“If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,” He adds, “then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”
Is your ministry struggling?
It could be that a healthy dose of generosity is in order — perhaps the same kind of sacrifice you’d like to see your donors make on your behalf.
In our ministries, we tend to operate on the basis of the maxim that ministry follows money: If I can make a certain amount of money, we say to ourselves, I can minister.
In God’s economy, however, the opposite is true: If I can accomplish a certain quality of ministry, God will provide the resources to fund it.
Money follows ministry, not the other way around.
Can we live like this? Can we take such a concept — so dramatically contrary to the world’s norm — and build our ministries around it?
It may take a leap of faith. But it will surely — pardon the expression — pay off.