Learning: asking and authority

I’ve spent a lot of time on the phone recently, as our cell phone statement can attest, and have had a lot of great conversations.  A week or two ago, I was talking with a friend from seminary who is now serving in a church and he was telling me about his wife’s work for an international Christian organization.

 She is a fundraiser and spends a lot of her time asking people for money.  On the other hand, when she volunteers at the church, she leads the missions team.  This team helps fund Christian work both nationally and internationally.  So she is in the interesting position of both asking for money and deciding with others how to give money.  Here’s what was passed on through this conversation, that has been of great help to me as I raise money for our church planting efforts:

When I am asking others to support our work, whether financially or prayerfully, I ask as one under authority.  I am under both human and divine authority and am bound to ask.  By accepting the job offer at Trinity, I am come underneath the authority of Trinity’s leadership and commit to the path we have agreed upon.  So, I must ask.  It is my job to ask.  Even more though, at the heart of the job offer and my acceptance is the belief that God himself is leading us together.  Ultimately, it is God himself that is calling me to this work and this means raising money for the work.  So when I ask, I do so because it is my calling, both from God and from man.
Just as the one asking, is under human and divine authority, so the the person being asked.  Every church that I approach has a budget, some set of priorities and commitments in place.  So when I ask a missions team their response must take in account the human authority they are under.  Even more though, whenever I ask a church or individual, that person is under God’s authority, as the one who gives us all we have.   Just as I must faithfully use the resources God has entrusted to me, by asking for money, so must the person being asked, faithfully use the resources God has entrusted to them.  So even though it may feel like there is this large power differential between the person asking and the person being asked, they are both in the same position.  Each must follow the human and divine authority which they are under.
This is quite freeing.  I need to do the best I can in being faithful the human and divine call on my life, but it is not ultimately on my shoulders to draw together a team for prayer and financial support.  So this image of the ladder, disappearing at the bottom and top, is helpful.  It preserves the distinction that some of us are higher or lower rungs, but points to the big picture that we’re all underneath somebody.  There is no autonomous rung floating out there above it all.  So when I talk to people about the work ahead of us, I need to trust that God will equip each of us to be faithful to his calling.

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