Fundraising as Spiritual Formation

I have heard fundraising described this way: “It is a whirlwind that comes through your life that picks up all the junk. You can’t hide from what it picks up.” I have found that description to be unexpectedly accurate. In the past three years of staff, I have found fundraising to be just that. It makes sin and my own shortcomings ever so apparent. It takes money, value, shame, self-worth, self-esteem, self-sufficiency, fear of rejection, and fear of failure and forces me to confront them. And it pushes me again and again into asking, “Is this really where God has called and led me?” Over the years, it has gotten easier, like working out makes certain activities lighter. But it is still emotionally draining and mentally taxing when I keep thinking about my budget and my deficit.

Through this process, however, God has used it to shape me. Much is still in progress, but I’ve found it to be surprisingly transformative. I think one of the biggest things fundraising addresses is the question of trust. It is a faith experiment. “Do you trust that God will and can provide for you?” Seeing how God has provided for me in the past three years, it has given me concrete experiences of God’s provisions. It encourages me to trust him with more and more things in my life. Another thing that God shapes is one’s ability to receive. I have a difficulty with gifts and generosity. It makes me uncomfortable. I feel undeserving. I feel obligated to return the favor and to get even. Fundraising forces a person to receive the gifts that God is giving through his people. I had to learn to receive without shame, without feeling like I am unworthy of others’ generosity. It is still something God is working in me. And lastly, God is cultivating a sense of gratitude and blessedness. The paycheck I receive is very truly from God through his people. With each paycheck, there are dozens of relationships, faces, and memories that come to mind. There is a wonderful partnership. There is an immense amount of trust. It produces a sense of blessedness that the work I do, I don’t do alone. I am being supported and sent by a community, who care about what God is doing on the college campus. I don’t always remember this, but when I do, it produces an incredible lightness and sense of purpose.

This summer, I had the privilege of meeting with over 70 alumni, their families, and current students. It was a lot of fun! I am reminded again of God’s faithfulness through the generations. We don’t ever do ministry alone. And if it wasn’t for fundraising, I wouldn’t have learned so many lessons, met so many beautiful and inspiring people, or heard so many amazing testimonies, or had so many opportunities to give God thanks and praise. May you God continue to produce in me gratitude and keep shaping me through the fundraising process.

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