Commending and Sending: The Role of Advocates in Support Team Development

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By on April 1, 2013   /   6 Comments

A powerful scriptural principle linked to missionaries being “sent” is that of commendation: “Let other people praise you–even strangers; never do it yourself” (Prov. 27:2, Good News). “For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends” (2 Cor. 10:18). “Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses” (2 Cor. 13:1).

It can be a dilemma for us to describe our missionary service to others, often putting us in the uncomfortable position of “commending” ourselves. We may feel as though we must sell ourselves and our ministry to receive support. It is not only awkward for us, but also for our friends. Instead, we are to give the “word of our testimony,” which gives glory to God, not ourselves. Jesus shared this principle too: “Those who speak on their own authority are trying to gain glory for themselves. But He who wants glory for the One who sent Him is honest, and there is nothing false in Him” (John 7:18, Good News).

It helps to have others who we know, trust, and love commend us and be our advocates. Without this, we might be open to criticism and suspicion. If others don’t endorse us, people may question our credibility.  Those who commend us also help shoulder the responsibility of seeing our ministry launched and expanded. Ask the Lord to identify someone who might become your advocate in support raising. Your pastor and church leaders are an obvious place to begin. Having their public commendation will set the foundation for others to believe in you and your ministry. They may even ask, from the pulpit, for the congregation to support you, both financially and prayerfully. They can do this with loving commendation and invitation to partnership in ministry, without a pressured presentation.

It helps to have others who we know, trust, and love commend us and be our advocates.

I know of a couple who served in missions for two years, before the wife was able to come back to visit their home church. She was interviewed by their pastor in front of the congregation. The pastor endorsed their ministry from the pulpit and invited the congregation to pray about supporting them. He included a response device in the bulletin, encouraging people to realize that no gift was too small. As a result, sixty-five people responded with monthly support or special gifts.

Your friends can also be strong advocates for your ministry. They may host a dinner or dessert gathering for you, speak to others on your behalf, or raise support for you. Credibility and integrity are exhibited when someone else–a trustworthy, respected person–endorses your ministry and assists you in establishing a support team.

Gather letters of reference as another means of others’ commending you; at least from your pastor and your mission agency. A positive letter of endorsement is more valuable than much of what you could say on your own behalf. You can’t brag about your abilities and calling. Others can! I’ve written a number of letters of commendation for missions staff I’ve worked with.  Once I sent personally addressed letters to fifty people on behalf of my assistant. I thanked them for their role in her life and described several prayer requests, including her financial needs. I asked them to seek the Lord about their involvement, enclosing a response slip and envelope. Over half of those receiving the letter responded over a four-month period.  Her monthly financial support doubled, the number of monthly supporters also doubled, and she received generous special gifts. A prayer group also committed to pray for her regularly.

Another missionary family who had struggled for many years with inadequate support experienced a similar response after letters of commendation and thanks were sent by their boss. As a result, an almost overwhelming flood of responses came to this family, with large special gifts and new monthly supporters. For each of us, this powerful principle of commendation may make the difference for us in seeing needed support provided…may the Lord lead us to these advocates, enabling His work to move forward!

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