(How's your emotional energy?)
When missionaries are emotionally drained, fundraising and donor ministry become overwhelming! Phoning even one potential donor is impossible. "Our hearts are right, but we are out of gas--elephants are standing on our air hose!
Though painful lessons over the years, God has impressed on me these seven life management skills:
- Avoid VPD's--very draining people. Among your "friends" you have some who suck life out of you. Avoid them if you can, but if you can't you'll need to put up boundaries. You know who I'm talking about!
- Don't be constantly available. I am wild about technology, but gospel workers experienced joy and fulfillment before email and texting. Is being "on-duty" 24/7 biblical? Jesus was asleep on a boat in a storm! We are becoming a wired society that is learning not to think deeply. Are we afraid to be alone with just ourselves?
- An oasis everyday, an oasis every week, an oasis every year.Luke 5:16 describes a habit of Jesus: "But Jesus himself would often slip away to the wilderness to pray." You may not find a wilderness in your city, but you can be alone with Christ in a corner table at a busy McDonalds if you train yourself to focus. Note the word often! I need a few minutes with Jesus every day in the bible (not only with Christian music). And I need a couple hours weekly to pray and plan my coming week I’m not talking about simply “going to church.” And I need three to four days each year hiking around a real wilderness with Jesus, birds and trees. Interacting with people 24/7 rewards you with what people can deliver--but it is not the balm your soul craves.
- Keep short accounts. Hard work makes us tired, but raw, wounded relationships suck life out of us. Acts 24:16 has the phrase: "...to have always a conscience void of offense toward God and toward man." Mental arguments or emotional feuds rob me of joy, lead me toward bitterness and force me to wound others. Don't wait even a day to restore a relationship. Settle it before you go to bed! "Live in peace with all men so much as it depends on you" (Romans 12:18).
- Avoid helicoptering your kids (if married). Today, we interpret "focus on the family" to mean "obsess" on your kids! Many parents are exhausted because they haven't taught their kids to play without the parents. You are not your kids' chief playmates. Hovering over your kids 24/7 (like a helicopter) will not guarantee they will turn out well. The best thing you can do for your kids is to invest in your spouse.
- Turn each difficulty over to God immediately. Phil 4:6-7 saves me daily ("in all things by prayer"). When a conflict comes, turning it to God immediately relieves me from trying to control it. Phil 4:7 says when we pray about everything we receive peace--the necessarily the answer we sought. The situation may not change, but we have peace. And peace is what we need.
- Stop worrying! Is worry a sin? In Matt 6:25-34, Jesus exhorts us three times with the words, "Do not worry!" He doesn't say, "Try not to worry!" Concern yes, worry no. Concern becomes worry when I try to control the situation because I am afraid. It is not a sin to be afraid, but it is a sin to live in constant fear. Worry is a symptom of fear.
Many missionaries make fundraising too hard because of their poor life management skills. Improve your life management by getting these seven elephants off your air supply and you will find joy in fundraising and donor ministry.