In a few hours I’ll be flying to the UK for another season of ministry. There’s such variety in the things I’ve been asked to do, and I love that. The majority of my time will be spent meeting with the Christian leaders I mentor, then there’s preaching in churches, leading spiritual retreats, teaching at training seminars, consulting with a two churches and a major charity and networking with people doing some very creative things in ministry and mission. This new way of doing ministry I’ve been led into may not be lucrative, but I’m having the time of my life!
It’s been interesting working through the financial thing over the past few years. I’ve gone back and forth wondering whether I should share this here. On balance, I think it’s worth putting it out there because it might help someone else working through this or a similar issue. I knew money might get tight when I left secure employment at Castle Hill Community Church to launch out into itinerant ministry, but I’d come to peace about that before I left in June 2011. God gave me this deep sense back then of him being my heavenly Father who knows my needs. Then in May 2012 I had a bit of a wobble when I couldn’t see how things were going to stack up. I became quite anxious for a few weeks. That got sorted out while I was in the UK the next month. Seeing God provide for me in so many little ways while I was away from home reminded me of my security in him. But I was still left with the technical question of precisely how to make a living out of mentoring, training and consulting.
My sense of call from God has never been to focus purely on providing services in the secular, commercial sector. Everyone tells me that’s where the money is, but I don’t care. Who I really care about are Christian leaders, whether in Christian organisations or in secular business environments, who want to make a difference for the kingdom of God wherever he has placed them. Restricting myself to serving Christians has financial implications. Most churches and leaders can only afford modest fees, and some fantastic front-line leaders simply can’t afford to pay me at all. On top of that, I sensed God prompting me to make mission workers in isolated contexts a high priority. I knew I had to think this through carefully.
One way to go was to approach people in my circle of influence to see if they wanted to sponsor me to mentor mission workers who couldn’t afford to pay for my services. That’s a reasonable strategy, and one which I could recommend to others in good conscience. But my just heart sank at the prospect. It’s not that I don’t think my ministry is valuable; I just hate asking friends for money. When talking with some WEC mission workers I was challenged to adopt the WEC fund-raising strategy – which is to simply commit the matter to God and leave it with him. Simple, huh? But hang on a minute. Perhaps the WEC approach is just a convenient way for me to avoid doing something that I find distasteful. Or, then again, maybe it really is what the Lord is calling me to do. How do you figure out something like that? One sign would be if someone approached me, out of the blue, to offer support because God had prompted them to do so. Well, I decided I’d wait for that to happen. The VERY NEXT DAY I got an email from a couple who want to support my ministry financially. That was good enough for me. What would I have done if that sign hadn’t come through? I would probably have swallowed my pride and gone ahead with the support raising exercise. So there you have it. How about you? Have you had to work through an issue like that? Where are you up to with it?
Grace and peace,