How to get money and irritate people

Posted on June 9, 2011

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This post is dedicated to the incredible people out there who choose ministry/charity/part time work for great causes AND who make financial sacrifices to do this AND who get on with it without a fuss. You know who you are, and you’re amazing.

Money…

I feel like things in Parliament haven’t been sufficiently awkward lately (what with all the visits to adult shops and such), so I’ve decided to have a little chat about Christians and money.

Allow me to explain:

I am a Christian.   For me, this is not an empty religious token, but a deep and abiding sense of love, revelation, peace and purpose.

But part of being a Christian means frequently getting asked for money, usually for good causes, but sometimes the bretheren forget their manners.

There are a lot of desperate situations in the world and I see it as my responsibility as a Christian to help – whether through a financial contribution or in-kind resources.  Helping the poor and oppressed is exactly what we should be about regardless of what faith we do (or don’t) profess.  We shouldn’t hesitate in giving to worthy causes*.

“To whom much has been given, much is required.”

But there is a difference between a Christian who asks you to support them or their ’cause’ without taking on sufficient financial responsibility themselves, and someone caught in a cycle of  poverty, sickness or disadvantage who genuinely needs help.

Case-in-point:

A friend of mine was recently asked to donate money to support a band that wanted to tour the USA.

For whatever reason, this band didn’t have enough money saved to cover their expenses (including rent and bills) but didn’t want to dip into gig profits made while touring because the more money they had left over, the more money they would have for a planned holiday later in the year.

Wowsers trousers.

Don’t we all have bills to pay?  Wouldn’t we all like to rock an overseas tour?  Isn’t the idea of playing gigs to make money so you can recoup costs?

Sure, my friend was able to opt out without a fuss, but sheesh man…  What are we thinking even asking in the first place?

The Entitlement Mentality

This is a sneaky phenomenon that has been inadvertently kept alive mostly by enthusiastic twenty-somethings who decide they want to spend six months on a YWAM Discipleship Training School (DTS), and/or go on a short term missions trip in order to help poor people and ‘find themselves’.

It is also supported by a few well-meaning Christians who choose part time or poorly paid jobs in ‘ministry’ but then seem to think that the world owes them something for choosing this.

What can end up happening is that these people begin to adopt a strange sense of entitlement which causes them to conclude (implicitly or explicitly) that their family, friends and church community will and should support them financially – regardless of the broader merit of their endeavour.  In most cases, this happens without them giving any thought to setting up some kind of arrangement that will enable them to pursue noble causes (or band tours) AND be self-sufficient at the same time.

Do it right

My main squeeze did a YWAM DTS when he was 23 and it completely changed his life.

It also required him to spend the better part of a year working two jobs to save up enough money to support himself for the six months he was in San Francisco.

He didn’t question this and it never occurred to him to ask people for financial support when he could just work and save his earnings.

Unfortunately, many of his YWAM counterparts had not adopted this attitude.

They arrived in San Francisco without enough money to support themselves and before long they were playing the sympathy card, crying poor, knowing he had cash reserves and would spot them a twenty so they didn’t miss out on bowling night.

Callum, in his graciousness, maintains that he was happy to share his money with these people because that’s what grace is all about: Giving something to someone who doesn’t deserve it.

And he’s absolutely right.

But there is another important message that we Christians need to take on board here, and it goes a little something like this:

Don’t expect a handout because you’re doing something for Jesus.

By all means go overseas, do mission and ministry work, change the world; grow in your faith, go on a band tour.  But make sure you work hard, save up and take responsibility for yourself inasmuch as you can.

And while we’re at it, please don’t expect special treatment because you have chosen to work in ‘ministry’ or chosen not to work full time.

If God is in what you’re doing, any money you need over and above what you can reasonably earn will come – and I can personally testify to this.

Other people’s salaries do not exist to validate your life choices.

Yours Scroogily,

LK

*Some organisations I rate include the International Justice Mission and Compassion.  I also love Empart and Iris Ministries.  I love the work of the Salvos.  I love The Mustard Tree and Boaz Trust and Free to Be Kids.  I love Mercy Ministries, A21 and Teen Challenge… I could go on but have a look at these for a start.

***Odds are, if you really need cash, people will be delighted to support and bless you in whatever way they can.  Sometimes – for whatever reason – we may find ourselves in a  financial jam and need a bit of grace and sometimes we will just need cash to support aid work in the back blocks of Sudan.  Either way there’s a fine line – so don’t ever presume on it.

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