It's heartbreaking to say, but I questioned whether God would call a broken woman away from her broken family to serve others — when it was evident that she first needed to serve her family and herself. The fact is, ministry shouldn't be a convenient escape from our problems. God doesn't fracture families and create chaos. And He certainly requires that we get our lives in order, prior to instructing someone else to do the same. In addition, God can tell us to go — without telling us to go now. If things aren't lining up, maybe you're still supposed to go ... but later. A year from now. Five years from now. Ten years from now. It's possible that God is giving you time to prepare.
Going into ministry often means irregular income. Expect it, prepare for it, and don't rely on credit cards to float through it. Also, don't fall into the trap of borrowing money to fund your calling. If you really have faith that God is going to provide, wait until He does! Don't assume that God (who believes “the borrower is a slave to the lender”) can only provide through debt.
This can be really difficult on a lean salary. If you look at what your friends have, you may feel short-changed at times. But remember that your calling and gifts are worth more than all the “stuff” in the world. In Luke 12:15, Jesus said, “Watch out! Be on your guard against wanting to have more and more things. Life is not made up of how much a person has” (New International Reader's Version). Let Jesus' words encourage you. When we gain the ability to get by on less, we acquire the financial freedom to go anywhere and everywhere God sends us.
Maybe you're not a natural communicator, but learning to effectively communicate is critical in ministry. People commonly send out support letters, but what about a blog or a website that documents the work you're doing ... while you're doing it? What if you could post pictures of the water well in the Middle East that you helped dig, or the South American orphanage that you helped paint? Holding up your paint-stained hands to the camera, and posting a picture of those grateful kids, may speak more to your supporters than a routine letter. And the immediacy of the internet gives your financial partners a sense of “being there.”
If you're trying to raise funds for a project, cast a solid vision of why the project is needed and what the benefit will be. For example, a pastor might say, “We need a new children's wing.” But that's not as compelling as this: “Our Sunday School classrooms are so overcrowded that the kids can’t hear their teachers, and we really don’t want to turn any children away.”
Be specific. Show pictures, if needed. And keep it simple.
If you put your supporters in the trenches with you, they will be more inclined to financially support what you're doing.
Out of enthusiasm for their calling, many well-meaning servants jump into something without evaluating the costs involved. Then, when things don't work out or they run out of money, they wonder why God didn't bless their efforts. It's important to recognize that we play a significant role in the success of our ministry. We have to plan, prepare, and make wise decisions. Therefore, ask a lot of questions. And always carry a calculator!
Luke 14:28-30 instructs that we must “count the cost” before starting a project: “Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn't first sit down and figure the cost so you'll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you're going to look pretty foolish” (The Message).
“Counting the cost” doesn't mean that we walk away from our calling if the price is too high. It means, however, that we may have to be more strategic about our planning, preparation, and timing.