Situation: An Uncomfortable “Ask”
Eric from the USA wrote with this question:
“I got a text from my pastor asking for money for personal support of one of our church staff. Then an email went out to parents of children in our youth program asking them to contribute to get new carpet for the youth pastor—and the sale on carpet ends tomorrow.
Am I wrong to be troubled by these requests?”
Our dear friend and colleague, Danie Vermeulen from South Africa, has served as a pastor and led a foundation. We invited his response to Eric’s question.
Scripture and Steps: Danie’s Response
I understand the feelings you have regarding these requests. I often get requests that trouble me.
Step 1: Ask Why You’re Bothered
I have created a habit to ask myself why the request troubles me.
Is it the request, or is it perhaps that I have a personal disposition in how the request was made? I try to get my feelings out of the way and look objectively at the request.
I try my best not to give under obligation because it never leads to joyful giving. (2 Corinthians 9:7)
“Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
I have had to deal with feelings of guilt because I did not feel inclined to give. This Scripture has set me free. The Lord wants me to decide in my own heart whether I should give or how much I should give.
Step 2: Discover Your Personal Giving Passions
So the logical question is when do I give and when do I withhold from giving.
I have had to deal with feelings of guilt because I did not feel inclined to give. This Scripture has set me free.
It is important that we each discover where our passions lie. Is it toward the poor, evangelism, church planting, Bible distribution, compassion ministries etc. These become filters to help us make decisions.
Step 3: Run the Request through Your Personal Giving Filters
When there are specific needs such as the ones you described in your question and it troubles you, instead of trying to analyze your feelings and work out whether you are right or wrong regarding your feeling rather use your filters of giving and feel the freedom of 2 Corinthians 9:7. Also keep in mind that your pastor felt safe to share these requests with the congregation with the hope that there may be people who would like to contribute.
Step 4: Spend Some Time in Prayer
To conclude, giving should cause us joy and when we have requests that trouble us, spend some time in prayer before making a decision. Let your filters, or areas you feel passionate about guide you. Never give under compulsion and do not allow potential offence to cloud your heart toward giving.
Step 5: Let Grace Be Your Gate Keeper
Sometimes requests coming our way are not well thought through or may lack some tact. Let grace be your gate keeper.
Danie was in pastoral ministry for 21 years, of which the last 15 years he spent as senior pastor of a vibrant missional church, which he planted in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. This church grew from a handful of people to just over 1,200 members. He also planted 38 more churches from this local church.
After his years in pastoral ministry, Danie established DAWN Africa, a church planting organization that focused on church planting mobilization in Sub-Sahara Africa. Within an 8-year period, church planting movements were started in 30 African countries. Danie is often referred to as the “White African with the heart of a Black Man” because of his understanding of and identification with the African culture.
During the last 9 years Danie devoted his time to the philanthropy space, assisting several American based foundations with their granting in Sub-Sahara Africa. Maclellan Foundation employed Danie as a consultant to assist them in their Africa granting. He then became the Executive Manager of the Mergon Foundation, responsible for granting in Sub-Sahara Africa as well as North Africa and the Middle East.
Danie has recently retired from his position at Mergon Foundation to dedicate his time to developing “Journey of Generosity” within Sub-Sahara Africa – a partnership between Generosity Path and Mergon.
He and his wife Cherise, a film producer, who is also producing Journey of Generosity videos for the Africa market, live in Cape Town, South Africa.