When it comes to money, most people carry baggage. The topic of money can evoke emotion in a person that travels as far back as their childhood. I find that many leaders bring baggage with them into their conversations with donors about giving. After all, money is a topic of conversation for every leader!
The notion of asking or needing money that belongs to someone else causes some leaders of faith-based organizations to simply hate themselves while in such conversations. Let’s face it: it can be an awkward, uncomfortable, difficult and sometimes very frustrating to ask for money. A feeling of self-loathing can overwhelm the person who is actively asking people to consider giving.
I find the prevailing belief among most who work and lead in faith-based organizations is that there is a separation of the mission-related work of their organization, especially if it’s a faith-based organization, and the work of raising money. They see these items as two different things. This is seriously flawed thinking that holds so many of us back.
You can hear this in their everyday language. They say, “Well, if we work too much on raising money, there won’t be enough time for the ministry,” as if somehow, the work related to raising money is not ministry. The feeling is that raising money for ministry is not part of the overall ministry work God has called them to do.
I believe that development is the disciplined work of connecting people to make a difference through your mission. Development is less about raising money and more about the language of leadership. Development is an essential set of leadership skills and disciplines.
Consider it this way: the currency you are after as a development leader is not money. What you are trying to grow is the currency of influence. Influence is what really matters. The essential work of the leader is the work of getting things done through other people. When you think of it this way, you realize that money is one of the last frontiers. For someone to give generously, they must have both their head and their heart connected to the vision and purpose of your organization.
With this in mind, allow your passion for the vision to drive your conversation – not your passion (or lack thereof) for money.
Passion is a key driver of influence when it comes to the work God has called you to as a leader. Your job as a Christian leader is bringing other people into your world with you. This is what really connects the dots for them. When you allow passion to drive your conversations, it becomes less about, “We have a need, will you give?” with your open hand held out, and more about, “This is what we’re doing, and this is what God is doing through the work. Will you come along with us? How is God going to use you in this work?” This is the discipline of helping people see and then challenging them to make a difference.
If you are a leader who has fallen into self-loathing or anxiety over your development work, I encourage you to do this:
- Refocus on your message.You have to get your story straight. Take your eyes off of the projects and the dollars and the perceived needs. Instead, think about, “What really is the story here? What is the message that I should be sharing with those with influence?”
- Revisit your vision.After all, the story and your passion flow from the vision.
- Renew your passion through pray and reflection.
Seek a fresh perspective from the Lord on why you are really doing this work. Ask Him to show you what is accomplished by His hand through your work.
By realizing that the Lord is using you to influence the world for Him and by following these three simple steps, you can walk away from the frustration and self-loathing you have experienced; and, you can instead walk in the fullness of the call God has for you as a leader.