Pits are known to be dangerous places. The utter darkness combined with the fear of the unknown of what’s down there can produce heart-pounding terror. Normally, it’s wise to steer clear of pits unless, of course, you are Benaiah. In between killing huge warriors from Moab and Egypt in 2 Samuel 23:21, the Scriptures matter-of-factly slip in a little-known feat. Benaiah “chases a lion down into a pit on a snowy day and killed him.”
Now, for most of us, we don’t purposely jump into a pit, we accidentally fall into one! The lion in that pit with Benaiah could have, and should have, torn Benaiah limb from limb. But here is an example of a mere man facing his fears head on, attacking them with great courage, and coming out of that deadly pit a victor.
As we apply this concept to personal support raising, we can learn a thing or two from Benaiah, and not let any pit, or the deadly enemies that lurk down there, hold us back from pressing on to ultimate victory. To know what the possible pits are in advance will help you steer clear of them or have a plan to conquer it if you do fall in. Here are the five:
1. The Pit of Insurmountable Odds
As you ponder going into full time ministry and the prospect of raising funds it can appear everything is stacked against you. You may be from a small or poor town, or you never had a home church, or your family is against you, or you’ve always had a hard time asking others for anything, etc. This is the “woe as me” person that sees the glass half empty and always has a reason why something CAN’T work. Sometimes people call these “excuses” and the enemy of your soul can use these to wreak havoc on your sense of calling from God, and make you turn back from pursuing the great work He has destined you for.
Solution: Read the story of Gideon in Judges 6 and 7 and how God stripped away every single “advantage” he had so that Gideon was forced to rely totally on the Lord, thus ensuring God would get all the glory. Ask yourself: Am I looking inward at my weaknesses and circumstances or am I looking upward to God’s strength and provisions?
2. The Pit of Never Getting Started
We can sit in this nice, tidy pit for weeks, even months, telling ourselves it’s not quite the right time to climb out yet. Some of us are just procrastinators, but others are “over thinkers” who are suffering from the disease of “paralysis of analysis”. They pride (or delude!) themselves in thoroughly reading, studying, prepping, practicing, and repeating, all the while constantly seeking “counsel” from everyone under the sun. I’m all for preparing well, but continuing to manufacture various delay tactics to keep you from the starting line, is ruinous.
Solution: Read the story of David in 2 Samuel 11 as he lounged around on his roof top ogling women when he should have been on the battlefield leading his troops. Ask yourself: Have I fully embraced God’s calling on my life, rejected all excuses, and unreservedly running to the battle without delay?
3. The Pit of Self-Reliance
Man, everything is going awesome. WAAAY better than you expected. Who said support raising is tough? Piece a cake! Yes, I may have had a slow start, but now going 100 mph and I’m 10 for 10 this week alone on my asks! I’ve definitely got the hang of this thing. No need to spend a lot of time praying or prepping for my appointments. Just show up and let the magic happen! People must sense that this sharp, articulate visionary is truly destined for greatness. In fact, it’s such a privilege to join my team, people may not want to waste my time with an appointment, but just call to tell me how much their monthly commitment will be! This thing will be wrapped up within a few weeks—EASY SMEASY!
This pit is disguised as a glorious mountain. We think we are on a roll, but pride comes before the fall.
Solution: Read the story of King Saul in 1 Samuel 28 and how this tall, handsome warrior thought he could cruise to battle victories without listening to or obeying God. Ask yourself: Have I (or will I?) allowed my support raising successes to subtly move me from humility to pride, from God-confidence to self-confidence?
4. The Pit of Plateauing
You’ve worked so hard, for so long, but you are totally drained. It’s like a maze you can’t get out of. You feel like you have gone to all of your high priority A and B contacts, and all that’s left are the less hopeful C and D folks; and you still have 47% left to raise! You sense your attitude is taking a nose dive to the point you are almost expecting people to say no to an appointment or an ask. In fact, you realize you are actually starting to create excuses not to raise support. You’ve even begun entertaining the oh-so-seductive idea of “re-thinking” your call to the ministry, and how you might spin the story to your family and staff leaders.
This is a treacherous pit to be in. That lion down there with you is licking his chops and “prowling about seeking whom he may devour”. If you convince yourself you’ve exhausted all possible avenues to full support, it’s just a matter of time until you roll over and play dead.
Solution: Read the story of Jeremiah and how he was hated, mocked, jailed, and persecuted his whole life. No one supported or believed in him or his message. There must have been a thousand times he wanted to give up. Ask yourself: Does God, who has brought me this far, have the power to sustain me and provide a breakthrough solution to get me to full funding and to my ministry?
5. The Pit of Bitterness
If things go wrong (and they will!) at any point during your journey, you will have a decision to make. Will you take full responsibility for this pit you find yourself in or will you seek to blame other things or other people? If there is an area of ministry that has more potential for bitterness than the raising of your personal support, I’d like to know it. With high hopes we jump into our funding journey with definite expectations in mind. We feel sure our family members will be excited and supportive of our ministry and the funding approach our organization has embraced.
The only problem is—it never works out the way we think it will! As much as we try to “guard over our heart with all diligence”, it’s hard to contain the pain and confusion when that rich uncle, who you spent years babysitting his kids, thinks he’s doing you a big favor by sending in a $100 “one-time” gift for your new ministry! Frustration can morph into anger, and anger unabated can grow into deep-rooted bitterness. That will not only destroy your ministry, but take you down as well.
Solution: Read the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 19 where the great prophet had just seen God bring fire down on the water-soaked altar in the presence of hundreds of Baal prophets. Elijah felt sure everyone would praise him for his work, but instead he got death threats from the Queen and confronting questions from the Lord. Because of the lack of appreciation he got depressed and wanted to die. Ask yourself: Will I protect my heart from bitterness by depending totally on the grace of God—rather than the approval or support of others?
All of us have found ourselves in different kind of pits over the years, including those that deal with our personal support. The measure of a man or woman of God is what it takes to stop them. Will we stay in that pit and let it ruin us or look to our Savior to rescue us? While suffering and dying in a Nazi prison camp during World War 2 Betsie Ten Boom tried to comfort her sister, Corrie, by sharing: “There is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still.”
This article is submitted by Jessica Wood of Support Raising Solutions. Support Raising Solutions is a Missio Nexus member. Member organizations can provide content to the Missio Nexus website. See how by clicking here.