ARE YOU FULLY FUNDED OR JUST “GETTING BY”?

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By on August 4, 2015   /   13 Comments

BEFullyFunded (2)

I once picked up a slightly inebriated hitchhiker in rural Wisconsin. As I attempted to engage him in conversation, I decided to risk asking him a rather penetrating question: “Friend, what is your life goal?” My liquor-smelling seatmate announced resolutely, “My goal is to get by!” That launched us into a very lively discussion about Jesus Christ!

But the next day his words “get by” haunted me. God used my hitchhiker friend to help me realize I had a financial “get by” mentality. Yes, I worked on fundraising a little here and there, but deep down, I never really planned on raising 100% of my budget! And besides, aren’t missionaries supposed to be poor? Somehow we paid the bills, but we weren’t saving, we weren’t really giving, and I was definitely cutting corners in ministry. My wise and discerning wife saw the storm clouds of financial ruin coming!

Here’s the subtle trap: A mission worker who is at 70% budget can probably “get by” month-to-month. Accordingly, Christian organizations are filled with staff at 70-80%. Is that a problem? Absolutely.

Here are dangers of not being 100% funded:

  • The temptation to overuse credit cards or borrow from family. Effectively, some gospel-workers are drowning in debt.
  • Financial pressures. What is the most frequent topic of family arguments? Money!
  • The inability to expand the ministry and subsequently, the dreaming stops.
  • No savings! What if the refrigerator goes out the day before your family vacation?

Why don’t missionaries work to reach 100%?

  • Fundraising exhaustion—they cannot stomach arranging one more support appointment.
  • Convinced that the “budget is too big”—they foolishly believe the car and refrigerator have eternal life, and the kids will get full-ride scholarships in badminton.
  • Believing the lie that missionaries are supposed to be poor.
  • Bare-bones fundraising just to meet expenses, rather than to accomplish a vision; a focus on paying bills, rather than ministry expansion.
  • Supervisory failure—their leadership does not demand they be at 100%.

But the Bible strongly says gospel-workers are to be financially healthy, so they can effectively engage in the work of God:

  • In 1 Timothy 5:18 Paul quotes Jesus in saying, “The worker is worthy of his [or her] support.”
  • The Ephesian gospel-workers were to be paid well for their ministry—they were to be given “double honor”, Paul says in 1 Timothy 5:17.
  • The disciples Jesus sent out in Matthew 10 were inexperienced, but Jesus said they were “worthy of support”.

Do you believe you are “worthy” of being fully supported? On days when the ministry is struggling and you are spending way too much time watching funny cat videos, it is hard to believe you are worthy of full support, isn’t it? But Jesus says His workers are worthy of support! Who will you believe—Jesus or your feelings?

Those storm clouds my wife saw on the horizon? She was right. Because we weren’t fully funded we didn’t save much—for emergencies, replacing our car, kids’ college, or family vacations. Life was harder than it needed to be even though we were at 85% funding. Finally my supervisor challenged me to not “settle” for a partial paycheck. These words were from the Lord, and within six months we were at 100% and have been ever since. Thanks be to God!

As a gospel-worker your funding goal is not merely to “make ends meet.” Instead ask yourself two questions:

  1. What dreams has God given me for life, family, and ministry?
  2. What will these dreams cost?

Once you’ve answered those questions, trust God to provide and go out and raise that amount of funding to fulfill everything the Lord has put in your heart. Then determine to never again settle for just “getting by.”

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