LESSONS I LEARNED FROM MY JEWISH FATHER AND MOTHER

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By on June 30, 2014   /   4 Comments

July-Newsletter

At 7:30 a.m. on May 14, I got one of those dreaded calls. It was my brother, Steve, “Mom was taken to the hospital at 2:30 this morning and is very ill.” My 90-year-old mother, Ida, passed away at 11 that evening.

I was in Orlando training 44 new staff members. I quickly packed my car and drove through the night. Steve and I got on our phones to take care of the things you have to do when someone passes away.

When you experience loss, you reflect on life.

Mom’s parents, Morris and Bessie, immigrated to the U.S. in the early 1900’s from Lithuania and Russia. They had 10 children (five boys and five girls) and lived in a small three-bedroom row home in the inner city of South Philadelphia. The five girls had one bedroom with one bed and the five boys had the same. Life was not easy, but they knew how to work hard.

Dad’s parents emigrated from Romania and also settled in South Philly. His father lost his automobile repair business in the Depression. Six years after coming back from World War II my father married my mother. He worked at the Philadelphia Naval Yard and later became a carpenter. He could make anything.

My mother was a stay-at-home mom and worked hard to take care of us. Although Mom was a short, stoic woman, who never sought attention, she left a legacy about which she did not know. When I was a little boy, I watched a weekly ritual my mother did. She opened a small green metal lock box with little cubbies in it. From my father’s cashed paycheck she divided the money up and placed it in the cubbies. This was her envelope system and how she budgeted.

That small weekly act was one of the many things God used to form my core values and convictions about how to biblically manage money. I cannot remember a time as a Christian when I thought of support raising and stewardship as two separate disciplines. In fact, they are inseparable. Support raising is about God’s provision, and stewardship is about how we are to faithfully manage His provision. A natural part of my conversation with other staff is not just about their support, but also asking them if they are faithful stewards of God’s provision.

Another discipline my brother, sister, and I learned from our parents is that working hard is a part of life. They were part of a generation who were brought up to be self-sufficient. If you wanted anything done, you did it yourself and you did not ask others.

My parents wanted a good life where they could provide a better life for our family than what they experienced as children. This is why they worked hard. However, our compelling reason as Great Commission workers to work hard at support raising (and it takes a lot of hard work) is not so we can earn money to have a good life for children and ourselves. Rather, we work hard to get fully funded so we can devote our lives to the burning vision to reach the lost. John’s picture in Revelation 7:9 must drive us to work hard at support raising, “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…”

As we work hard at developing a financial support team, we cannot do it alone. We are to involve others in our lives and ministry as partners by mobilizing them to give and to pray.

That is a vision worth working hard for and which to give our lives.

It is healthy for those of us who raise funds so we can serve the Lord to ask ourselves three questions:

  • Am I financially faithful with God’s provision for my ministry?
  • Am I working hard so that all can hear the name of Jesus?
  • How am I doing at mobilizing people to give and pray for reaching the lost?

These are good questions to not only reflect upon, but you also may want to take this one step further, to openly and honestly discuss these questions with the other staff you work with.

Mom and Dad, thanks for the lessons you taught me.

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