Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Treasure hunt

One of the first questions I'm usually asked by someone about to start fundraising is, "How will I meet the people who will help me reach my support goal?"  It's a great question, and there are lots of ways to answer it.  One way that I answer that question these days is to compare it to a treasure hunt.

Do you remember going on treasure hunts as a kid?  It didn't matter where you were.  It didn't matter whether you did it alone or with others.  It didn't even matter if there was "real" treasure or if it was all in your mind.  Every kid has built-in expertise in the field of treasure-hunting.  Here are the few simple things you formerly knew but may have forgotten about a good treasure hunt:
  1. There is definitely treasure out there, waiting to be found.
  2. The treasure was hidden by a pirate who intended for you personally to find it many years later.
  3. Though you sometimes have some clues or a cryptic map, the treasure could really be anywhere, so you have to search under every rock and behind every couch until you find it.
Finding the people to make up your support team is essentially a treasure hunt!  If God has called you to your ministry, then He has also provided the people for you to get the funds you need.  Your donors are already out there, hand-selected by God in advance for you to find along the way.

Now in case you're concerned that I'm too quickly comparing God to a pirate, consider that all throughout Scripture God seems to love hiding things for us to find at the right time.  Consider these passages from a simple word search on "mystery":
Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith. (Romans 16:25-26 ESV, emphasis mine)
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (Ephesians 1:7-10 ESV, emphasis mine)
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:24-27 ESV, emphasis mine)
For lack of space I didn't include Daniel 2, Ephesians 3:1-12, a handful of passages in Revelation, and a number of others.  Should it surprise us that God hides things from us for a time so that He can reveal them later, all to His glory?  "It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out." (Proverbs 25:2 ESV)

Our troubles begin when we fool ourselves into thinking that we're not simply finding donors, but rather that we're the ones creating donors.  We believe that if we act a certain way or say a certain thing or know a certain person then suddenly WHAP!  Donors everywhere!  But that isn't how it works.  God created our donors; we simply discover them as a child discovers treasure.  Indeed, God has hidden treasure all around us.  We don't know quite where, but that's why we have to look everywhere we can think to look.

This treasure hunt perspective is so much more freeing than thinking we need to create donors.  If that were the case, every time someone said no to an appointment or to a request for funds, we should rightly feel like we've failed.  If our job, however, is simply to look under every proverbial rock and behind every proverbial couch, we shouldn't be discouraged when we don't find a donor there.  It just means we have to keep looking - the donors are somewhere else.

At its core, this treasure hunt perspective is simply choosing to believe the gospel.  We can't create donors.  We can't say the right things.  We can't raise the funds we need.  We can't even see what God is doing unless He reveals it to us.  But we ARE able to trust in a God who accepts us despite that, because Jesus Christ stood in our place.  Jesus did create donors.  Jesus did say the right things.  Jesus can and is raising the funds you need.  Let's not trust in ourselves for either our salvation or our fundraising - let's turn to the One who provides both.

So, stop trying to get it right, remember your "inner child", and go on a treasure hunt.  God has hidden your donors out there for you to find.  So be encouraged, have fun and keep looking!

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened." (Matthew 7:7-8 ESV)