Set the Bar High: Five Reasons for Strong Support Raising Accountability

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By on January 16, 2018   /   2 Comments

As he stood at the end of the runway, staring intently at a bar height he had never vaulted over, my brother would take a deep breath and start sprinting forward, finally leveraging every muscle in his body to flex upwards. Sometimes he would clear it with barely an inch to spare—but he cleared! It was obvious to me he was going to will himself to do whatever was necessary to get up and over that daunting bar looming so far up in the sky.

I came from a family of pole vaulters. I would go to the high school meets and sit in the stands, marveling at the bravery and patience of my brother. The officials would begin by setting the bar at 11 ft 6 in. The vaulters that cleared that height then watched the officials move the bar up to 12 ft. As the officials kept inching the bar higher and higher, the group of vaulters remaining shrank dramatically. The more they would raise the bar, the more speed, strength, courage, and determination were required and drawn out of my brother. I was deeply impressed.

How can we do that for our staff? How can we set the bar of support raising so high, so challenging, that it would require everything they have to get to full support—and stay there? It may seem like cruel and unusual punishment, but really it is a loving way to prepare them for ministry and for life. You think this kind of approach would push away your staff and cause them to want to leave the organization? Just the opposite. Leaders love a challenge and want to rise to the occasion.

I certainly love both the Marines and the Army, but they each have a very different recruiting approach. One appeals to a sense of sacrifice: “We’re looking for a few good men!” The other appeals to a desire for pleasure: “Come see the world!” Which of the two branches do you think attracts and develops more of the strongest, bravest, most disciplined soldiers in the world?

I’m specifically talking here about support raising accountability. Have you set a strong, high bar for staff in your ministry as they raise their funds? Whatever standard you set, they will seek to rise to that level—and usually no higher. If you tell them to take 12+ months to raise support and that five appointments a week is a good pace, guess what? That’s the bar they will set for themselves. But, if you challenge them to get to full support* in 100 days and that 10-15 appointments each week should be the norm or minimum, you will see a whole different level of motivation and results.

I know it’s not fun to hold other people accountable. Why? Well, because we all want to be liked and to never make anyone feel uncomfortable. Remember the old-timey movies where two policemen are interrogating the suspect chained to the table? One officer agrees to start off by playing the good cop role, but then the bad cop steps in.

Good:

“Want a coke? Cigarette? Look buddy, I want to help you. You look like you’re a good guy, and I want to get you out of here ASAP. I know you’re tired and frustrated, but you gotta give me something to work with here. Do me a favor would you, and fill me in? I’ll tell the prosecutor how cooperative you were. I’m sure he’ll let you off easy.”

Bad:

“Playtime is over, Bozo. It’s now or never, you scumbag. Either tell us exactly what you did, or we’re going to slap your rear in prison the rest of your life. I’ll give you to the count of three: 1…2…”

I’m certainly never suggesting you talk to a staff person in a demeaning way, but the point is, we all would rather be the good cop than the bad. Right? If it’s not you, somebody in your ministry has to be the dedicated and disciplined person to follow through every single week to hold the support raising staff’s feet to the fire. They may cuss you under their breath, but at some point, when they cross the 100% finish line, they will rise up and praise you. So, why are we so strict on every staffer to be accountable to meet and report on these support raising standards? I shared these five reasons with our leaders recently:

1. Because we love them deeply

We love them deeply and want them to thrive in all areas of their lives and ministries, not just survive! This certainly includes their marriages and families too. Our persistent and in-depth accountability has to come from our heart, that we truly want what is best for them and their future.

2. Because we want them healthy

We want them healthy and freed up from stress and pressure, so they can be the kind of spouse/parent/minister they want and need to be. Developing strong support teams also goes a long way in presenting a good testimony to their parents, in-laws, supporters, friends, and others in the community they do business with.

3. Because we want them to do everything God puts in their hearts

How can we truly empower our staff to be able to fully listen to God and not “second guess” Him because they don’t see the funds available to do what He is telling them? We don’t want even one staff person to have a beggar mentality. No, let’s pack our staff with vision-driven (not budget-driven) men and women!

4. Because we want them in ministry for the long haul

We don’t want them to bail out over finances. To insure this, we want to help them set a thorough and realistic budget on the front end that allows them to save and invest for their future. It needs to include essentials like paying off school debt, emergency funds, kids’ college, home down payment, latter years, etc. and to stay out of any kind of consumer debt! Do your staff a favor. Start now to help them build a robust and resilient lifelong financial foundation that will help them weather the ups and downs of life—and the U.S. economy!

5. Because we want them to feel secure and stable

We want the word to ring out to any of our prospective new staff candidates that if you come on staff with us, everyone will be at full support at all times and our leadership is totally committed to that—no exceptions! This kind of perspective and practice gives everyone, including spouses and children, a strong feeling of long-term protection and well-being.

If the bar is set high as part of our DNA and reputation, it will be a huge point of credibility as to whether or not people want to come on our staff. That level of commitment will attract the right kind of people, and repel the wrong kind. But, like everything else, we as leaders must model these things every month and every year if we are going to expect to see it from our staff. We’re not perfect by any stretch, but the Lord is giving us grace and growing conviction to make this a reality. I pray the same for you.

*Note: Here is what we mean by being at full support:

  1. Gets a FULL paycheck EVERY month.
  2. ALL ministry expenses are being reimbursed EVERY month.
  3. They have a buffer in their support account EACH month AFTER payroll of AT LEAST $3K for singles, $6K for couples.
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Support Raising Solutions
PO BOX 3556
Fayetteville, AR, 72702
1(800) 595-4881
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