Do you struggle with the idea of people supporting you financially? Maybe it makes you feel obligated to them or indebted in some way. Possibly you feel like you are burdening people, depleting them of their own hard-earned resources. And the question, “what gives me the right to ask this?” is always hovering in the background. I, too, wrestled with these thoughts, emotions, and questions.
My own shift in thinking and feelings about being supported by others came from reading Paul’s letter to the Philippians, particularly 4:15-17. I know I’m not alone in feeling like I’m bothering or burdening people when I invite them to support us. Almost everyone I have ever taught has had these feelings.
Philippians 4:15 – 17:
15 “Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving except you only;
16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need.
17 Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account.” (NIV version)
Paul really understood what partnering for the gospel was all about. In his letter to the church in Philippi he thanks them for their support and tells them how much they have blessed him. But then he gets to the heart of it (my paraphrase for verse 17): “But it’s not just that I want your money. I’m more excited about how God will BLESS YOU for giving to make it possible for the gospel to be preached.” He knew that it would be to their profit spiritually to support him.
Paul was not “me” centered; he wasn’t worried about what they would think of him because he received money from them. I was quite “me” centered for many years – caught up in how it made ME feel, wondering what they would think of ME asking them for money, etc. Paul’s focus on how THEY would be blessed because of THEIR giving has helped me to shift the focus away from me.
With the Philippians he was more excited that they gave than that he received. He talks about their account getting credited (presumably their account in heaven, not in the Bank of Philippi!), describes their support as being a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God and tells them that God will meet all their needs (notice that this promise is for the supporter/giver, not the receiver).
God has purposed that everyone would be involved in advancing His Kingdom. When we invite people to partner with us, we are offering them an opportunity to invest what they have been given to spread His transforming love. I no longer feel like I am burdening people or depleting them of something. Now I know the truth that it will be an opportunity for them to partner to spread the gospel, whether through finances, prayer or practical help. They will be blessed because of it, as God has promised.