A few years ago I met a missionary who wanted to increase his support. “We don’t ask. We just minister to people and some of them give. God is taking care of us,” he said proudly.
“You must be up to 100% of budget,” I said.
“No,” he replied, “we are at 80%.”
What I wanted to say, but didn’t say, is “God is taking care of you—except for 20%!”
My friend hit the 80% glass ceiling! At 80% you can pay your bills—you can “get-by!” Around the world it is common for gospel-workers to think that 80% is the same as full funding. But it is not.
Here are two dangers of stopping at 80%.
1. At 80% you won’t save for emergencies
Many Gospel-workers say, “We don’t receive enough money to save.” Or, “Saving is a luxury—it’s impossible for mission workers.”
Impossible? Will you ever have an emergency? Does your car have eternal life?
Proverbs 21:20 says, “There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man swallows it up.”
The wise don’t spend all their treasure—they gradually accumulate. Accumulation is not necessarily a sin. Spending 100% of what you earn is a sin—at least it is called “foolish.”
But how to save?
Years ago Alma and I tried to save whatever we had left at the end of the month. But nothing was ever left! Then we launched PYF—pay yourselves first. We took a few dollars out of our paycheck the day it arrived and put it in a savings account at a bank. We thought we were going to die because we couldn’t do without that few dollars. At the end of the month we were broke as per usual, but we had a few dollars in the bank.
We tried it again the next month. We were still broke at the end of the month, but now we had a little more in savings. It worked! PYF—pay yourself first.
But many mission workers choose not to save. When they have a financial emergency, they write their mailing list or text a few friends. Giving partners are glad to help, but they are not willing to do it month after month or year after year. And if the appeal is for personal family needs—that is your responsibility, not your donors!
At 80% you are not able to be like the Proverbs 20:21 wise person.
2. At 80% it is difficult to expand your ministry.
If a ministry opportunity comes your way that requires travel or buying extra food for Bible study snacks, you’ll hesitate to “expand.” I confess that in my early days I held back on thinking big about ministry expansion because I was not fully funded.
And it happens in small ways too.
For example, Gospel-worker “Megan” was starting a new ministry on a tough campus—students didn’t seem interested. Finally, she met a young woman who said, “Yes, I want to hear about Jesus.” They set an appointment in three days at the Student Union. Megan was excited.
But the next day Megan canceled the appointment. Why? Because she didn’t have $4 to buy this searching student a coca cola.
The Gospel suffered because of 80% funding.
It is time to shatter the 80% ceiling. 80% is not the same as full funding! God is well able to provide another 20%!
What hinders you from moving from 80% to 100%?