Thursday, January 31, 2013

Am I doing enough?

According to my fundraising software, in the past week I wrote a bunch of emails, called several donors, mailed a handful of thank-you notes and set up several appointments for an upcoming trip. All things being equal, I'd label this as a fairly good week. Despite that, I remain haunted by a piercing question this week, just as I was the week before that and the week before that:

Am I doing enough?

It's a frightful thought. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of people I could be connecting with right now. For each of those people, I could be praying for them more, following up with them more, reading their Facebook profiles more, calling to connect "just because" more and basically doing more more.

Now, perhaps you have a better handle on your emotions than I do, but when I start to consider how much more I could be doing, I get really fearful really quickly. I realize that I'm not being a particularly good friend to my donors - even though they give sacrificially to support my ministry month after month after month - and so I confess that they'd be perfectly justified in cutting my support and giving elsewhere. You know... "elsewhere" being defined as anywhere where the missionaries actually care about them rather than sticking with a selfish jerk like yours truly.

Thus is the beginning of the downward spiral. When I see how donor after donor will drop off, I decide to redouble my efforts. So I work extra hard for the next few days or weeks. I connect with donor after donor. I write more thank-you cards then ever.

And then I crash.

Because my motivation is driven completely by fear, at best I'll stop doing so much because I no longer feel fearful, or at worst I simply exhaust myself and get burnt out. I become miserable, unmotivated and unmissionaried. I may even start making up words to describe how bad I feel.

Okay. Breathe. That's all fairly categorically bad, right?

But you know what the most tragic part is? I never even answered my question.

Am I doing enough?

The answer is simple: No, I am not doing enough.

There is something strangely and remarkably freeing about admitting that. I think it's because I no longer have to fear the possibility of failure - I can accept that I am already a failure. I needn't worry about whether I might become a selfish jerk - I can accept that I am a selfish jerk. Because of that, I now have a new, better question... and answer:
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:24-25a ESV)
Paul wrestled with this idea a lot and that's his conclusion: Jesus is his Savior - and ours. He goes on from there to write one of the most spectacular passages in all of Scripture: Romans 8. In summary, it tells us that no, we're not doing enough, and even if we somehow did, our sin would mess it all up. But that's okay: Jesus did do enough, and He did it perfectly. As He brought to completion all that was required, He uttered, "It is finished," and He meant it.

One who looks to the cross of Christ need never wonder whether he does enough; that much is plain. Rather, he ought to ask what he can do to show the great grace of his Savior to the world. For us fundraisers, that begins with our donors.

So, the next time we feel the fear that comes from not having done "enough", let's let our next thought be that of profound thankfulness to the One who did it all.

Such a thought will motivate you to do more than you could ever imagine.