FOUR MPD CHALLENGES WE FACE IN OUR LEGACY YEARS

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By on September 1, 2013   /   7 Comments

Do you remember when you heard God’s call to serve Him full-time? You said, “I will follow and trust You to provide for me as I raise my support.” You gave God your irrevocable commitment to obey Him without any preconditions.

Do you realize you are in the minority? Many flirted with serving the Lord, but their “yes” became a quivering “but” when they learned they had to raise their support.

Among you is another group. You are in your legacy years, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, and you have been raising support for decades. I want to applaud you as we would runners who are in their final miles of a marathon. There are support challenges in our younger years, but they take on new dimensions in our legacy years.

“When I was 22 years old God called me to serve Him full-time to fulfill the Great Commission. Until He revokes that call, I am here to stay.”

There are four challenges veteran support raisers may face in their legacy years.

#1: My call is clear, but my vision has dimmed.

Our vision for ministry progresses through three life stages.

Adolescent stage: When you joined your ministry, you were excited, full of energy and had the birth of a new vision for how you thought God might use you. It would take some years for that vision to fully develop.

Mature stage: With each passing decade adding ministry experiences and responsibilities, your vision deepened and matured. You discovered your gifting and your niche. You grew in your understanding how God could use you in the ministry.

Legacy stage: In your late 60’s and 70’s it is not uncommon for some to begin the conversation, “What value can I still bring to my organization?” For some, the conversation starts with a prompt from the Lord. For others, your leadership may say it is time to pass the baton.

If you entered ministry in your 20’s, several of your ministry partners may have asked, “How long are you going to work with college students?” In your late 60’s their question changed to “When are you going to wrap this up?” The culture in our country expects people to retire in their late 60’s so it would not be unusual for your financial partners to question your value to your organization, “Should we still support George or should we direct our giving to someone younger?”

You need a compelling vision to serve the Lord. If you are not compelled by your vision, neither will those who support you. Every couple of years, ask God to help you rethink your vision for ministry. Write it out. If you are married, do this together. Ask God, “What are you calling me/us to do in my/our legacy years?” Your vision needs to show up in your prayer letters.

Here’s how you respond to those who ask you the “retirement question,” “When I was 22 years old God called me to serve Him full-time and help fulfill the Great Commission. Until He revokes that call, I am here to stay.”

#2: My get up and go, got up and went.

Perhaps you feel, “I don’t have the energy I once had to stay up with my support and cultivate my relationships with my ministry partners.”

Diminished energy as you get older is normal, but we cannot use that as an excuse to neglect essential disciplines to cultivate our relationships with those who pray and give for our ministry.

Think smart cultivation.

Start with an unshakable resolve to either renew or make a commitment to cultivate your relationship with your ministry partners. How you build your relationships with your partners may change through the decades, but there has to be a rock solid commitment to building relationships with them.

Remember, it is easier to cultivate relationships with your partners than to replace them. If you have sown years of poor cultivation habits it is critical you make some changes.

Focus upon what you can do, not what you cannot do.

Most likely, the top 50% of those who support you are a small number. Intentionally develop a cultivation strategy with them.

As you get older, the challenge increases to visit partners who live in different parts of the country and it may not be realistic to try to visit each one. You need to choose who are the most strategic people who support you and visit them every few years.

Communicate regularly through prayer letters, phone calls and emails. Perhaps it’s time to learn to “visit” using Skype or Google Hangout and Facebook.

Set aside 3-4 hours each week to work on MPD.

#3: My ministry partners are older than I am, and I’m losing them through retirement or death. I don’t have good contacts, and the ones I do have are my age and older.

Here are six steps to raise new support during the legacy years:

  • 1. Get a support coach. You are never too old for one. It’s always good to have someone with whom you can strategize and help you brainstorm ideas.
  • 2. Set a realistic support goal. Don’t use fuzzy math. Determine a real goal of what you need to be fully funded and be brutally honest with how much support you have.
  • 3. Ask your current partners to increase their giving. Never believe the lie of the enemy that your partners are too old to ask to increase. Your ask needs to be about the vision and mission, not “we’re in trouble.”
  • 4. Brush up on your presentation and ask skills. You are never too old to go through MPD training again. MPD is not Calvinistic, “once learned, always learned.”
  • 5. Ask your older partners to refer you to their adult children. If your partners are in their 70’s and older, their children are in their 40’s.
  • 6. “Namestorm” the networks to which you are connected. What’s your involvement in church? Focus upon a strategy to set up support appointments with new people in their 30’s to 50’s.

#4: I don’t think I have enough support and saving to get to the finish line.

Frankly, I think there are a number of Christian workers who struggle with this one. Some may have inheritances to fall back upon or children who will help out. But others may not have raised enough money over the years to save for the future.

You do not want to be in the position, “I can’t afford to retire for I don’t have enough money in savings.” The reason we stay in Christian service is because God has not called us to leave, not because we can’t afford to retire. The assumptive attitude, “I don’t need to save for the future for He will take care of me” is not biblical (Proverbs 6:10-11). Many of you have time to save. Say “no” to some spending and save aggressively.

We need to remember even if the math does not look like it is going to add up:

  • The One who provided when you first entered the ministry is the same God today.
  • The One who provided when you got married is the same God today.
  • The One who provided when you had children is the same God today.
  • And the One who first called you is the same God who will provide for you in your later years in life.

Hebrews 13:8 is true, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

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