Tomorrow I start a seven-day trip to visit three staff and nine giving partners on the East Coast. Actually, eight giving partners and one Nav alumni I haven't seen in 20 years! She seemed glad on the phone, but it's been such a long time I find myself apprehensive.
Typically I try to see at least 14 people on a seven-day trip (two per day), but the partners are scattered from Baltimore to Georgia so I will spend many hours in an Enterprise rental car. I don't mind—it gives me time to think in fresh ways about my team, ministry plans and why I couldn’t control my change-up with the Pierre Cowboys baseball team 120 years ago. And on long stretches I convert the rental car into my personal chapel to meet with the Lord.
I still have one guy who has not agreed to meet. It’s for Day 3. He supports us at $15 per month for 20 years and never misses. When I plan to invite a partner to increase, I like to honor them by stating it in advance on the phone. He hasn’t’ called back yet. That was 12 days ago! Hmmm.
I worry that he doesn’t want to see me because he doesn’t want to increase support. Then my mind wanders to thinking he “probably doesn’t like me very well either!” I’ll call tomorrow at the airport to give him one last chance. Maybe I’ve offended him. Maybe I think too much!
But the other calls to set appointments went well—everyone seemed eager, but it took a huge amount of time. I spent hours in phoning, emails and texts to get 12 bells to chime at the right times on the right days. That’s normal.
Last night as I was falling asleep I wondered if this trip is worth seven precious days away from home. Couldn’t I stay home to phone non-donors for support for $450 per month—that’s what I need to replace monthly partners who stopped giving because of the economy ? “These nine will continue giving anyway,” I reasoned. “They will also think I am spending a lot of ‘their’ money just to pay them a visit.”
“Plus, they don’t like me that well!” That’s how my mind worked last night!
But as I reflected on previous donor visits I realized I have not had a bad one—not even a mediocre one! Face to face bonding and ministry is amazing.
I remember the partner who was in tears after I asked him how he met Christ (I’d forgotten!). After sharing his spiritual journey, he said, “No one ever asks me how I met Christ—not even our pastor!” It all happened at his kitchen table!
So as I make final preparations today I am convinced that donor ministry appointments are just as important as appeals. Giving partners are not ATM’s!
Okay, my 6:30 a.m. flight to Baltimore comes early tomorrow. Time to finish packing.