Friday, May 1, 2015

Ambassadors, not kings

My initial fundraising went poorly.  Perhaps the biggest reason is that I tried to win donors with my personality and my presentation skills - both of which were substantially limited - so that they would join my support team and help me with my ministry.  In other words, I forgot who I was.  I was acting as the king and not as the King's ambassador.

Here's how Paul describes our ambassadorial position:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  (2 Corinthians 5:17-21 ESV, emphasis mine)
This passage is speaking of us being ambassadors for Christ in regard to reconciliation (salvation).  However, what ambassador is sent without adequate supplies for his task?  Surely a king would want his ambassador to be fully equipped for whatever mission he is called to fulfill!  Indeed, He who sends you on your soul-winning quest has also provided each dollar you need in your preparatory fundraising quest.

It's easy to forget that, isn't it?  We tend to believe that we're on our own to raise funds.  We're consider ourselves individual kings and queens of our little fundraising kingdoms.  By our own power and cunning we conquer donors and secure dollars.  "Is my fundraising doing better than yours?  It must be because I am inherently more spiritual or winsome or persistent than you!"  The opposite also rings true: "Fundraising is going slowly.  I'm not as worthy or capable as the next guy... I'll probably never finish..."

Tragically, we can carry this same mindset into our ministry post-fundraising as well.  The results are always the same: as we preach this treasonous message to ourselves, we become prideful, defensive and resistant to feedback from both man and God.  After all, we're KINGS.  We don't answer to anyone!

Furthermore, our message will not be - and can not be - one of weak and broken sinners saved by grace.  Subtly or not-so-subtly we will preach a message of strength and self-sufficiency.  Yes, I will claim submission to the King of Kings, but in my heart of hearts I'll believe that I myself am He.  And if I fail to repent and acknowledge Him as King, He will execute judgment by handing me my own little throne to sit on so that I might experience the ever-increasing wreckage of a godless life (see Romans 1.)

Yikes.

Instead, let's consider what position we really have.  In humility, let's recognize our true appointed position: we are ambassadors, not kings!  What authority do we have that has not been given?  Why should one of God's people entrust their resources to us?  They shouldn't!  But they do well - and do so joyfully - to entrust their resources to Christ.  We are the recipients only because of our association with Him.  The King has called us.  He's already provided with absolute authority.  Our role is to procure that provision - and we do so as ambassadors, not kings.

What does this mean practically?

It means that your donors are not there for you.  They're there for the King's purposes.  You are simply the King's ambassador - one who is sent by the King to deliver others' gifts (which He Himself has provided) to the King.  He just so happens to give you a degree of stewardship over them as well.  But you are an ambassador - not the King.

It means that when someone declines giving to your ministry, the King did not waste your time.  He has called you to deliver a message to them.  It is up to them to respond accordingly.  You did not fail.  Their "rejection" does not meant that you spoke to the wrong person.  It may be that your message is meant to lead them to give to the King's purposes elsewhere, or to re-examine their budget in light of the King's assigned priorities, or to communicate further with the King via prayer, or for many other purposes known only to the King and not to you.  Because you are an ambassador - not the King.

It means that fundraising is not primarily about you getting what you want.  It is about you serving as the King's ambassador until He assigns you another message in another context.  At no point will you cease to be an ambassador and begin being the King.  Those who say otherwise are liars.  So flee treasonous thoughts.  Put away fantasies about being in control.  Resist the lies of the King's enemies.  He will deal with them severely in His time.  As for you, fulfill your mission.  Raise your funds.  Do it faithfully.  Because you are an ambassador - not the King.