"I know it's not very much, but..."
"Sorry it isn't much but..."
"We know it isn't much..."
"Sorry I can't do more..."
"I can pray, but I'm sorry I can't do more..."
These are the most common phrases I hear when people commit to partnership in some way. Regardless of their commitment there is almost always a phrase that comes to justify the decision. Rather than seeing value in their contribution, they feel the need to say sorry that it is "small". This is the part of prefield ministry I like the least. But it is also the part I love the most. These 3 main factors are what I like the least but love the most.
LEAST: Apologizing for "insufficiency/insignificance"
LOVE: Opportunity for encouragement in taking a HUGE step of faith!
LEAST: Comparison to others
LOVE: Showing value in YOUR decision
LEAST: Marginalizing your choice
LOVE: Showing you this so VALUABLE!
Gifts of commitment are true blessings. Every single person that prayerfully considers partnership - seeking and acting upon God's guidance - has no reason to apologize. Each gift of partnership awes me. The partners that "only" pray are not worth less to me than the ones that give. That is something I want to see changed in missions culture; all areas of commitment are costly and important.
Value of Prayer:
I LOVE my prayer partners. They play such a crucial role in this ministry! Just because God has not provided for them to give financially at this time does not make them worth less in my eyes. Committing to prayer is no small thing! Prayer partners GIVE time, devotion, fervency, faithfulness, energy to praying with and for me and the ministry. That is invaluable! Plus, if I had all the money in the world it would be incapable of preparing and supporting my heart and soul for ministry! Nothing prepares someone and fortifies them like prayer. Not to mention, there is not a greater example of Christ-like care than that of prayer, at least not in my opinion. These partners are seeking face time with the Savior and they are taking me before Him in my joys and my struggles. They are praying for me and demonstrating what it looks like to fervently pray for His work and for others.
Value of Special Gifts:
My special gift partners - those that cannot commit at the time to regular financial giving - are awesome! They know that God has not yet given them the resources to regularly give or to give consistent amounts but they still desire to make a difference when He does provide. Instead of keeping the "extras" or spending them on other things they are choosing to give it back to God by supporting His work somehow! One of my special gift partners is a church on a college campus. They do not have the ability to commit regularly to support but they take offerings and give time to time as God provides and that is amazing! They are being stretched as they are blessing others.
Value of Monthly/Regular:
Monthly givers are invested monetarily in a different way than the rest. For them, God has provided consistently and they are joyously and generously excited to give back! They know the joy of receiving and they seek the blessing of giving. They want others to experience the joy of receiving too and they want to express thanks to God for providing by obeying Him.
No partner has come to a decision without prayerful consideration. That is not lost on me. Every time someone joins the team and they seek how God would have them give, I get so pumped. When God speaks to their heart and tells them to act and they do it, it is worthy of celebration! People are being sensitive to the guiding of the Holy Spirit and are INCREASING THEIR FAITH by obeying what He says. For some, God says, increase your faith and begin praying fervently and regularly. For others, He calls them to give special gifts along the way. And for others still, He says, take the step and commit to regular financial giving.
I realize each person/family is in different stages. Therefore my $10/month partners are greeted with EQUAL excitement as my $1,345/month partner. Those that gave $2,000 are no less important than those the anonymous partner that gave $25. The partners that stepped up and said, "I can pray for you" are EQUALLY priceless. God does not call us all the same way. There are some that give so much they have no more "wiggle room" to give more. Some are giving for the first time. Some are timid and trying to grow in boldness. Some are bold and are seeking to increase their joy. God brings people in different stages of life together and calls them to invest in different ways in the ministry so that He can grow them differently through each situation.
A personal example:
Obviously since I am not someone else, I cannot share with certainty how or what God is teaching another. But I do know me. Please, do not take this then as bragging or showing off.
When I first sought God about giving to missions I started out with a "small" amount. Emotions in my heart and mind were very apologetic and I felt inadequate compared to others. What was my "tiny" money going to do to such a big need?! Here is the newsflash that rocked my world through this:
God does not need my money. He wants my heart.
I was timid at first but I began giving my "small" amount. God provided and when I took a step to INCREASE MY FAITH, God INCREASED MY FORTUNE. He was not looking at the amount and comparing it to the amounts of others. Instead He saw and - was filled with joy - that I was willing to trust Him. Giving allowed me to trust Him more. I gave knowing God would provide the rest. As I gave He provided more and then called me to give more so I did. Even now I would love to give more but in this season of life God is choosing to grow my faith differently. Instead of providing more, He asked me to begin making less. I reduced my working hours while maintaining my giving level - because that is what God asked of me. That is how God is currently growing my faith because, again, the issue is not the funds but the faith.