I have been questioned multiple times this week by friends and a few leaders in OPEN, “Why don’t you raise funds for the work you do?” My answer is that it is one way I have of ensuring that the work we do, the ministries we start, are truly under God’s leadership and not my own.
How’s that work? Because if He does not provide the funds through others, then nothing happens. I have a gift of communication. I believe that using that gift for my personal benefit is wrong. Yes, some point out that I have the right to use that gift for my personal benefit so that I may serve God better, but then who is defining “better?” Obviously moi.
A Life Dependent Upon God
To live a life dependent upon God, I need to depend on Him. That means He may supply my needs through my job or through the donations of others. True “The worker deserves his wages.” But that does not mean that I determine what my wages should be. Doesn’t the business owner determine the worker’s salary? Doesn’t the master determine what he pays his workers? Then shouldn’t my Master determine what I am worth to Him?
In 40 years of marriage my wife and I have never sat down and made a budget for ourselves. We have on occasion made a budget for our former mission organization, because they required it; but then we never looked at it as it was done for them, and not for us or for God. Plus, we knew no one would ever hold us accountable to it.
Money Dependent on God
Consider, in the church and para-church organizations we teach our people that it is not the best to pray to a priest for answers to prayer, but rather to pray directly to God. Yet when it comes to raising monies the church and para-churches don’t plead directly to God, but instead make their pleas to people. Now yes, I understand that the organizations are praying to God too. But if we believe “my God will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory” (Philippians 4:19), does He really need our assistance in meeeting our needs? Or is the problem “our” needs are not “His” needs, therefore we need fund raising programs? What would happen if all para-church ministries and churches agreed to only petition God for funds for one year? Would it strengthen or weaken, hurt or help the work God has for us? Would it cause us to focus or flounder?
The Bible teaches that we are to strive to be dependent on Him, not one another. Our love, our service, our teaching—all 59 “one another” passages in the Bible are meant to draw us together for His glory, not to meet our own needs. In fact, when wronged by a brother or sister rather than ask for restitution we are told “it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?” (1 Corinthians 6:7). And in Romans 13 we are told “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another.” Yes, we are told to be kind, generous and care for one another, but never are we told to ask one another for anything.
Yet we are repeatedly told throughout the Bible to ask God for things. In addition, in teaching His disciples to ask God for things, Jesus tells them “in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12) Our focus is to be centered on Him. Our dependency is to be in Him, not our abilities to plead, tell tear-jerker stories, and persuade people to give to “our” work for Him.
Needs Dependent on God
So why does any Christ-centered organization need to solicit funding? If God is leading, won’t He supply? Can’t He speak to people to give His work through us? Or is the problem that no one is listening to God? And if no one is listening to God, is that because the church has failed to teach us to listen to God? And why is that? Is that because the church doesn’t listen to God? Ouch! Is okay to even be asking these questions?
Honestly, isn’t it easier to tell people what to do than to model it or trust God? After all, as Beaver taught Lucy, “Aslan (God) IS good, but He IS NOT safe.” And the reason He’s not safe is we have determined the definition of safety. Therefore, trusting Him for our finances is clearly not safe. I know this because He rarely gives me what I believe I deserve, so maybe I should be raising funds so I can get what I believe I deserve.
But if I look first at the log in my own eyes, I am confronted with Matthew 7:21-23.
Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?” Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”
May I appeal to Christian leaders? Stop telling us what to do and teach us, show us, what it means to know Him. Disciple us. And if you do not know Him, if you do not hear His voice, then cease being a blind guide. Are you listening?
PATRICK LAI and his family have worked in SE Asia for over 37 years. His experience in doing business with Jesus has brought him to understand the meaning of work and worship in the marketplace. He started 14 businesses in four countries, six of which are still operating. Patrick and his wife, May, mentor and coach businesspeople working where there are few or no Christians. Check out Patrick’s latest book, Workship, now available in paperback and e-book.