I recently thanked a donor for his increasing financial support. His response told me he counted it a privilege to support us. He went on to say that as long as he and his wife had a job that they would support us. By they way he responded, I asked if he was expecting that to happen soon. He told me about three scenarios for how the company may decide to make cuts if the current economic trend continues. In two of the scenarios he would likely keep his job but in the third he could potentially lose his job. Then he said, “It’s the Lord that provides the ability for me to work, and the Lord who provides what we need.”
As InterVarsity staff we are required to raise 100% of our salary, benefits and other ministry expenses. This raises several questions that you must wrestle with early on. One of the reoccurring questions I was asked early on in fund raising was, “why don’t you get a real job?”
In Matthew 6, Jesus is addressing a crowd when he says,
25″Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
28″And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
The theme of this passage is do not worry and embedded in the passage is an understanding that God is the great provider. He takes care of the birds, how much more valuable are we? Infinitely! Which means he takes care of us. We need to be careful that we don’t take this too far. In verse 34 there is a warning that each day has enough trouble. According to this passage we are to seek first God and his kingdom.
It took me some time to find an answer to the question, “why don’t you get a real job?” As I pondered the question, I realized that at the root of the question are two questions. One is a question of work ethic. Paul reminds the Thessalonian Church in both letters that he worked night and day. So I need to work hard. The second is a theological question. Who provides for me?
My conversation with a donor reminded me that in these economic times, we all become aware of the fact that we don’t control our income or provision. My donor could lose his job. It wouldn’t have anything to do with whether or not he was working hard. The demand for his work is decreasing. He has no control over the demand. It is a good reminder that the Lord is the provider. In my context, it isn’t the donor who is the provider. It is the Lord who provides for me.
People often tell me they could never live on support. They ask me how we do it? The answer is simple. The Lord is my provider. Matthew 6 reminds me that I am more valuable than the birds and I don’t need to worry. Paul reminds me that I need to work hard. That’s all that I can do. The Lord is my provider.
How has the Lord provided for you?