Monday, December 3, 2012

When giving under compulsion is good

Most Christian fundraisers know this verse:
"Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:7 ESV)
We know that verse means that we should never pressure people into giving. We should rather trust that God will guide people to give and will bless those who do - and those are the people we want on our support teams.

However, how do we handle those people who say that they want to give - even declaring it decisively and cheerfully - but who never start giving?

If you've done fundraising for any length of time, you've experienced this. I've had a number of people over the years leave me in that awkward position. On the one hand, they've said that they want to give. In some cases, they've even affirmed it repeatedly. But on the other hand, they refuse to return phone calls, emails, Facebook posts, letters and whatever other methods I've tried.

These situations make up one of the hardest parts of fundraising. They cause you to feel rejected, lonely, defeated and unmotivated. As days turn into weeks and weeks turn into months, the thought of trying again leaves you with tightness in your chest. "Hope deferred makes the heart sick." (Pr 13:12)

In these cases, how can you keep from losing heart?

Jesus tells us:
And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, "In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, 'Give me justice against my adversary.' For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, 'Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.'" And the Lord said, "Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" (Luke 18:1-8 ESV)
The Lord's point could not be clearer: we ought always to pray and not lose heart. Why? Because if an unrighteous judge can be convinced by constant pestering, how much more responsive will the Righteous Judge be?

Note then the implication: though we should never lead another human being to give under compulsion, Jesus plainly encourages us to lead God to give under compulsion!

Now to be clear, God never actually gives reluctantly or under compulsion. He bows His knee to no one, regardless of how much they may plead with Him. However, there are easily a hundred other ways in which Jesus could have encouraged His disciples to not give up - yet He chose to do it by comparing His Father to a flabbergasted atheist jerk. Why? Because even though God never actually gives reluctantly, our repeated cries to Him are effective; God hears each one and each one matters to Him. So much so that it could even seem to us that our compulsive behavior is what does it.

What really does it, however, is the fact that God's precious Son gave His life so that we would be considered absolutely delightful children in God's sight - children that God finds great pleasure in blessing.

How do you keep from losing heart when trying to reach those who have said they want to give? Consider asking them less and asking God more.
"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. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!" (Matthew 7:7-11 ESV)