Friday, July 17, 2015

Life as a two-talent fundraiser

I've been raising funds for over twelve years. During that time I've met some truly phenomenal fundraisers.

It takes those fundraisers under three months to raise what took me almost a year and a half. They fearlessly call through their contact list and get appointments while I'd spent countless nights leaving messages and wondering if I'd have anything to do next week. They walk out of a new church with dozens of phone numbers and appointments - and maybe a verbal pledge from the missions committee! I, on the other hand, walk out of a church thrilled if I'd engaged in at least one non-awkward conversation.

There are some truly phenomenal fundraisers out there. I am not one of them.

Yet here is something truly remarkable: I'm 100% funded, my donor base is stable and I've found that I actually enjoy fundraising. (I even have a blog on the topic!)

How is that possible?

It's because I've learned to be content with life as a two-talent fundraiser.
For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, 'Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.' And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, 'Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.' He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, 'Master . . . I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours'’ But his master answered him, 'You wicked and slothful servant! . . . Take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.' (Matthew 25:14-24, 26, 28-29 ESV, emphasis mine)
Jesus intended that we'd read this parable and group the three servants into two groups. Here's how I usually do that:
  1. Successful: Mr. Five-Talent
  2. Unsuccessful: Mr. Two-Talent & Mr. One-Talent
But that's all wrong! Here's what Jesus actually intends:
  1. Successful: Mr. Five-Talent & Mr. Two-Talent
  2. Unsuccessful: Mr. One-Talent
The reason I get this wrong is because I tend to buy into the idea that being the best is acceptable but being anything less is pathetic. Isn't God worthy of our very best? Shouldn't all His people excel in everything they do? In one sense, yes. But when we consider the story above, Jesus clearly doesn't think that way. It would appear that He's far more interested in faithfulness. Did you do what you were able to do according to your ability? That's how He measures success.

Can you imagine how discouraged the two-talent guy would be if it were otherwise? What if he actually had to raise five more talents from his two? The parable clearly says that he's only able to handle two! How deflating it is to be held to a standard beyond your ability!  If I compare my speaking ability to John Piper, I'll be discouraged. If I compare my batting ability to Albert Pujols, I'll be discouraged. If I expect to raise support like those phenomenal fundraisers, I'll be discouraged. But if I seek to preach God's Word faithfully, I can't fail. If I get up to bat and swing away as best I can, Jesus doesn't count that against me. If I fumble over my words but faithfully do the "ask" anyway, I'll still end up fully funded by God's grace.

So I've slowly realized over the years that I can be quite content with my two-talent fundraising ability. That's not to say that I shouldn't strive to improve. But I'll probably never speak like Piper or bat like Pujols. And that's okay. I'll do what I can, rely on God's grace and enjoy life as a two-talent fundraiser - all in the joy of my Master.