Have you–would you–ever truly consider a ministry position that requires you to raise your own support?
Our real answer might be something like, ‘I can’t say it isn’t biblical, but it’s not for me.’ That’s certainly where I was coming from. And how I sometimes still feel, depending on the day.
By the end of this article, though, my prayer is that you will be open to having a conversation with God and others about it. Without any pressure, guilt, or fear.
I’ll also lay out a simple, practical plan you can follow to discern how God may be leading you.
Even if you come away confident that God is not leading you to consider raising support, you’ll feel more confirmed in your current calling. And, your faith will grow by bringing your life’s plans before God with completely open hands. Maybe for the first time in years.
And who knows? God just might surprise you.
God Wants Your Best
I know that asking God if you should consider a position that requires raising funds can be scary. So, before I lay out some practical steps you can take, I just want to remind you of what you already know. That God wants your best, and that he can be trusted.
What John wrote long ago is still true for us today:
‘There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.’ – 1 John 4:18
A Simple Roadmap
Okay, here’s where the rubber hits the road. If you wonder whether God may be calling you to a ministry that requires raising your own support, this is one practical plan.
1. Wrestle with your obstacles.
What are the major reasons you might not consider a position that requires raising your support? Try to evaluate which ones are biblical, which ones aren’t, and ask for wisdom where you’re not sure.
Even if you believe God is probably–or definitely–not calling you to pursue a fund-raised position, are there things you need to confess? For example, when I was challenged to consider raising support after seminary, my ‘no way’ response threw a spotlight on my stubborn belief that I knew how my future should play out. And, my pride.
‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ – 1 John 1:9
2. Get really specific about the blessings.
It’s important to wrangle with the challenges of raising support, and where it throws light on our darkness, but we shouldn’t stop there.
To really give raising support a fair shake, we need to think – in high-definition, as it were – of what blessings it might bring.
For a moment, pretend you’re not in whatever ministry (or job) you’re in now. You have all the money in the world, so you don’t have to be ‘practical’, okay? (Don’t worry; I’ll administer the smelling salts later.)
Dream with me for a moment: If you could do anything in the world, what would it be? Take a few minutes and just write it all out. Don’t worry about using the language you’re ‘supposed’ to use, grammar, or anything else. Consider things like:
- What would you do?
- Who would you serve, and how would your ministry help transform them?
- What gifts, talents and skills would you bring to the table?
- Where would you do it?
- What else do you need to consider?
Hopefully, at the end of this little exercise, you’ve come up with something like your dream job. It may or may not exist if you collect a traditional paycheck, and obviously, no job is perfect. But, you could probably get pretty close if you raised your own support. I’m not kidding.
Over the years, one of my best friends sensed a growing passion for the Muslim world. But he also had a very successful career in the corporate world. He had every reason to stay: the respect of his peers, great compensation, and challenging work that he enjoyed.
And yet, he just couldn’t deny his passion for the lost in the 10/40 Window. That’s what got him more excited than anything else.
So, he did his homework and eventually took the leap. Because God was in it, he and his wife raised their support pretty quickly, and now they support workers in the Muslim world full-time as coaches. Missionaries are some of the most stressed people on the planet, and my friend loves helping them lean into the Lord, solve problems, and seek God’s future direction. He even gets to travel the world, a huge passion of his.
What might raising your support allow you to do?
3. Talk to God with open hands.
It’s important to earnestly consider the challenges and blessings that might accompany raising our support, but at the end of the day our insight and foresight only go so far. (Hint: it’s not very far.)
So spreading our hearts, thoughts and plans out before our God is infinitely more important.
‘Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.” – Psalm 62:8
Acknowledging that our life and future, without reserve, belong to God is far more important than whatever outcome he may choose to reveal.
4. Invite the church into your journey.
If you sense God might be stirring you to raise your own support, make sure to involve your church, and especially your elders. After all, they ‘are keeping watch over your soul’ (Hebrews 13:17) and are part of the ‘abundance of counselors’ God has provided for your safety (Proverbs 11:14; 15:22). So, be sure to invite your pastor, church leaders, and other, godly people to speak honestly into your situation, and, pray with you. Not only as you discern your call, but throughout each major step of your journey.
5. Commit, with confidence, to the path God reveals.
God loves giving wisdom to us generously when we ask (James 1:5). When he reveals the way forward, all that’s left to do is follow, whether that involves raising funds or not.
Serve God, Wherever He Leads
The goal of this series has not been to nudge you toward raising your own support, but rather, to encourage you to ask God if he might be leading you in that direction. After all, our reflex is to dismiss the possibility altogether. It just seems too hard and scary.
Despite the very real obstacles, there are incredible blessings that come with living on support. For your donors, the people you serve, and you. Most importantly, God is honored as you serve him in the path he has laid out for you, wherever that leads.