Physician, Heal Thyself… Missionary, Support Thyself?

By on March 1, 2013   /   Leave a comment

As the age-old cliché sounds unwise for medical doctors, it seems nonsensical for Christian missionaries who are on support. But then again, does it?  Even before we consider the hard work on our part (preparation, phone calls, face-to-face appointments, etc.) needed for raising support, we should look at what creates a healthy environment for it. Our tendency is to think, “If only Christians would be more Kingdom-minded and generous in their stewardship, there would be plenty of support to go around!” I propose that fostering a healthy environment for raising support begins with us, and our generosity in stewardship.

Amongst the missionaries I train, I too often find a sentiment that they, because of God’s call on their lives, are somehow exempted from the biblical models of Kingdom-minded stewardship and generosity they are praying others would reflect. But, I believe those of us who are trusting God for His provision must first model what it means to worship Him through our giving and in so doing, set the stage for others. This leads me to consistently ask myself three questions:

1. How is my own giving – am I giving to advance God’s kingdom beyond my tithes and offerings to my church?

In an environment where I am asking others to trust God and take steps of faith to give above what they are already giving, I must be willing to journey where I am asking others to go. How can I, with integrity, ask others to take steps towards sacrificial generosity if I am not willing to take those same steps myself? There’s a good reason I need to be committed to raising full support and not settling for less. Living on partial support can lead to a subconscious “hoarding” mentality, instead of generosity. Just like in Malachi 3 and Luke 21, it isn’t about the amount or the size of the gift. It is a matter of the heart. Even though others may have more capacity to give because of their net worth or income, my heart for giving and generosity should be second to none. Yes, we may be able to present a strong case we are giving our all in terms of our time and talent, but we should also excel with our financial treasure too. (Matthew 6:21)

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21

2. Am I supporting other missionaries or staff out of the resources God has entrusted to me?

I believe I should be investing in God’s kingdom advancement through other Christian workers just like others invest in my ministry. The Levites of the Old Testament were expected to worship God with their giving even as God provided for them. Christian workers today should have no less of a standard. An added benefit to us personally investing in other workers is that it keeps us keenly aware of the “partners’ perspectives.” By being on that side of the fence, we can better discern what helps our supporters feel more engaged in our ministry, and what communication works and what doesn’t.

3. What if all those I ask for support give in the same way I give?

Will that be a good thing or not? It is always a humbling reality-check to use my own standard of giving as a measuring stick of what I hope others will do. As I invite them to give above and beyond to participate in advancing God’s kingdom through my ministry, I have to ask myself a question: Am I modeling what I am asking them to do?


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