Good thing Isaiah didn’t have to raise support

29 10 2013

prophet1Conventional wisdom these days says if you want to get people to financially support your ministry you need a couple of things:

1. A vision that is compelling, one that meets a felt need

2. Activities that bring observable results, because people nowadays want to see that their money is making a difference.

I was reading Isaiah 6 again recently and all I can say is that Isaiah must have had another way of supporting himself other than “faith-based ministry.”

Oh, he had a mission statement alright, one that came straight from God. If God gives our ministry a calling like this, I don’t see a bright financial future. Because God told the prophet to tell the people (if I may paraphrase) to keep on attending church and listening to sermon podcasts but don’t perceive or understand a bit of it (Isa. 6:9).

The “observable results” of Isaiah’s career were to be dull hearts, heavy ears, and closed eyes. God’s goal was that the people not realize they should return and be healed (Isa. 6:10).

SMART goal-setting (i.e. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound) would have worsened the picture. Isaiah asked how long he was to pursue this depressing mission. God said: Till the cities were laid waste, the houses inhabited by widows and fatherless kids, and most regions abandoned (6:11,12). Only then would God preserve a tithe of people with whom He could start over.

How many mission committees would give an appointment to a candidate like Isaiah? How many Christians would give that kind of missionary a dime?

A Word or Two of Counsel

TO THOSE WHO GIVE SUPPORT.  Leave room for those of Isaiah’s type. There are missionaries called of God who do not make a great pitch, do not carry themselves well in front of a large group, and do not have a flashy tagline. But they are the genuine article. Some of the best missionaries I have known were much more effective with the people they went to reach than with the church committee back home.

TO THOSE WHO FEEL GOD HAS CALLED YOU.  Seek out God in solitude. Make sure (as possible) that the voice you are hearing is God’s. Circle around time after time to clarify the vision you feel He has given you (I have done this hundreds of times). Say ‘yes” to as much as you know, then wait for His next directives. Keep going, committed to obey, whether it preaches well or not, whether people support it financially or not. Be willing to obey the vision even if you have to wait years to start, even if you have to work two jobs and pursue His vision on the side. None of us will reach the finish line and wish we had been more polished. We will only be glad that we were faithful.


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