I can’t say support raising has ever been easy for me, but not long ago I hit a new low in my relationship to raising personal support.
By the end of last year, I had fallen below 100% fairly significantly, and even though I had seen God provide for us in some incredible ways, I was very discouraged and had even started to wonder if it was possible for me to carry on.
I started asking myself whether I could do this for the long run.
I’ve been at my current organization for seven years, but I began to have a few supporters ask me when I was going to find a different method of providing for my family.
I was also starting to worry I was going to cannibalize all my relationships for the sake of funding our family.
And because convincing people to invest in our ministry had become so hard, I had started to wonder myself if our ministry was worthy of investment at all.
I had never really been diligent about turning in the weekly report required of staff actively raising support, but one week I decided to give it a go.
I had just had a disappointing support appointment that had made me question whether I was going to have any friends left after another seven years of ministry. Needless to say, I was a bit more vulnerable on my weekly report than I might have been otherwise. I reported on my number of calls and appointments, but the report also asked me to think through my state of mind and my emotional health.
And Collin, our organization’s support coach for male staff, wrote me back a two-page email.
It was incredibly encouraging. I read part of his email out loud to my coworkers because it was so good. He and I emailed back and forth a few times, then we talked over Skype the next week. I even shared my support presentation for him to critique.
Why was all that so helpful?
Collin offered practical help, evaluating my support presentation and methods, but also didn’t shy away from being vulnerable about his own experiences raising support.
He’s lived on support for 12 years, yet he told me stories of his own doubts and even ways in which he does support raising that fall short of the ideal.
Collin’s response was also helpful because it was wise. He told me about a Wycliffe missionary they support. “Do you know why we support them? Because we like them and we think it’s important for people to have Bibles. That’s it. I don’t expect anything from them.”
It was so freeing to see from the supporter’s perspective—I realized I’d been putting too heavy a burden on myself to be someone or act in such a way that probably was not even what my supporters expected of me.
As Collin said, “Maybe the question isn’t, ‘Do I really believe what we’re doing is a worthy investment?’ Maybe the better question is, ‘Am I, Ian, a worthy investment? Am I doing the best with what I have? Am I striving to become a better man, husband, and father?’” By changing the question, I was also freeing myself from seeking approval from my supporters, rather than approval from my Father.
Lastly, my conversations with Collin were helpful because it was obvious he took time to write those emails and make that Skype call. He thought deeply about what I said and considered his response well. And that communicated that he valued me.
It’s easy to feel alone in the support raising journey, even if you work in an office full of people who are on the same journey, as I do. I still don’t have answers to all of my questions and doubts. I still continue to take time each week to pray and ask God to change my heart towards support raising. But having a good support raising coach like Collin walk practically, personally and thoughtfully with me through those questions makes the journey easier, and I can honestly say I’ll walk down this road further because of Collin’s help.