Some of you know that I work as a fundraiser for a Christian nonprofit. This means that our staff of almost 30, their families, and some 5,000 clients a year depend on my effectiveness for their financial stability. It is, in a way, as if God has assigned me to be the fiscal shelter to more than 5,000 people: a substantial and sometimes daunting responsibility.
It’s also more than ironic since 25 years ago, I turned down the ministry job of my dreams because it would have required me to raise my own personal support – something I could not imagine doing at the time. God does have a way of laughing at our lack of imagination.
A couple of weeks ago, I was reading in Hosea (chapter 14) how Israel had been putting its confidence in idols – anything we create ourselves – instead of doing what God asked them to do. And how if they would stop saying, “ ‘Our gods’ to what our own hands have made” God would once again grow the nation of Israel into a flourishing shelter so that “People will dwell again in his shade; they will flourish like the grain, they will blossom like the vine …” (verse 7)
That vision of what Israel could become surely describes what our organization, with its nurturing programs for at-risk children, its emergency assistance for families and individuals in crisis, and its dream of transitional housing for homeless families, wants to be.
But if I’m the person responsible for the financial resources … what’s keeping us from having the funds we need to accomplish our full vision? Am I worshipping gods my own hands have made and preventing God from doing what God plans to do?
Once I started thinking in those terms, it was pretty easy to figure out what was going on, and even to name some of the idols I had made:
- A wooden god of interpersonal expectations. “I’m an introvert. I can’t handle all of the conversations and visits with potential donors this job requires.”
- An icy god of fear. “It’s better to stick with things I know I’m good at.”
- An iron god draped in chains of history. “No one in your family can sell. No one can lead. Everyone is great in the lead supporting role.”
Now some people would say those aren’t idols but strongholds, places where my own wrong thinking has allowed the Enemy of my soul to grab territory he doesn’t deserve and erect his own little fortress. I’m not going to split hairs on this point. I’ll just say: if they’re strongholds, they’re pretty weak holds. Because when I think about them as idols, works of my own hands that I would entirely obviously have the power to destroy … I can destroy them. And do.
So what was life like this week, without these idols? I managed to begin the plans for two fundraising events. I made initial contact with several new prospects and stakeholders. I sustained the flow of grant documents and communications with volunteers, donors, and public agency stakeholders that have been my professional “comfort zone.”
We will be an organization where many more than 6,000 people are able to dwell, flourish, and blossom in the refuge we offer. All it takes is smashing some of my idols.
What idols would you like to smash today?