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Cheerful Giver

There are ministries and needs we encounter every day that desperately need support, and lately I’ve had many friends who were actually feeling despair about this.

As the Apostle Paul would say, “May it never be!”

Friends, these are just opportunities, and like every opportunity that comes your way in a day, saying no to many of them doesn’t make you a bad person. It doesn’t make you part of the problem and not the solution. At the same time, saying yes to the right opportunity can change a life—your life and others’ lives.

So instead of becoming overwhelmed by the fear and the guilt that you’re not doing enough because there’s just too much, can I suggest just the opposite? Open yourself up, to all the opportunities, and start making some intentional choices.

How to decide?

First, let me tell you how NOT to decide—out of guilt or fear. These are not emotions on which God wants you to base any decision, just the opposite. Scripture warns against it. God loves a “cheerful giver,” which you are NOT if you’re giving out of guilt or fear. Run the other way. Be loved by God.

When I’m met with an opportunity to give (like these two ,, I take a page from my past life as an athlete, and my past life as a nonprofit development consultant.

Almost all of us have had the opportunity to be part of a team we loved—whether it was an athletic team, a military unit, a summer mission team—remember how you mirrored the victories of others on your team? How their wins made you so happy you yelled for joy, how their losses made you cry, too? How working toward a common goal filled your heart to bursting? You want your giving to feel like that. When you partner with someone through a commitment to long-term support, you are committing to teaming up with them, to sharing in the risk and the reward. You’re committing to lift them up and cry at their losses, to laugh and fist-bump with joy at their wins, to work with them toward a common goal you both believe in passionately.

How do you find people to partner with who you can authentically get that excited about? Over the years working in nonprofit development, especially ministries and donors who were Christ-oriented, I came to realize I wasn’t actually looking for donors. I was looking for soul

mates. So I spent an immense amount of time in research and conversation with people, finding out who they were, what they loved, what made them cry and smile, hope and dream. When it came to potential donors, I was a stalker. The CIA? Amateurs. I was in the business of figuring out hearts and searching out the ones that matched the hearts in my organization. Where I found them, I brought them together, and cheerful things happened.

Just like with a friend or potential spouse, you should be looking to give to organizations that match your heart and soul—which takes some soul-searching, your own, and others’. It can take time and intentionality to become a cheerful giver—but God loves that. Be loved by God.

And here, just a brief word to those being supported. If you’re seeking cheerful givers to support your ministry, partners who want to authentically share in your risk and reward by being members of your team… Please remember, you become members of their team, too. How much do you know about the people who are supporting you? They appreciate the sacrifices you make—are you appreciating theirs? They’re praying for you constantly, daily. Are you praying for them? Do you know what they need prayer for? They’re crying at your losses, whooting for your wins—do you know what their wins and losses have been lately?

Finally, this, to both donors and those being supported, a common refrain in the development world—

“It’s impossible to say thank you too much, especially if you really mean it.” Which brings us full circle back to my favorite development mentor, the Apostle Paul:

“I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints…”

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