In the last post we pulled some lessons from Nouwen’s TheSpirituality of Fund-Raising. We are going to continue looking at this short book in this post as well.
Nouwen touches on possible reasons talking about money in our culture are so taboo. He notices that we often talk about religion and sex more freely than we do money matters. Speaking about debt issues feels as secret as talking about one’s sex life. Nouwen investigates why taking about money is so taboo, especially when it comes to asking for it.
Working for a missionary organization I travel to several different cultures around the world. Many of these cultures have no hesitation to ask for funds. I am not talking about the beggars, but church and university executives regularly seek funds. Many from the U.S. who travel to these ministries feel awkward and sometimes offended when asked. Some look down on these cultures because they ask “so often.”
Let me ask this question…How come those who have resources feel so uneasy when those who do not have resources ask them to share? Is it because the ‘haves’ see the ‘have nots’ as lazy? Perhaps they see them as uneducated or unprepared to use resources effectively?
This is not a post regarding if you should give to every request and thus create unhealthy dependency, which is a real and legitimate concern but best saved for another time. For this post I want to investigate if our cultural view of being dependent influences our dislike for raising funds. As Americans we fear dependency. We want to be independent nationally and financially. We train each other for financial independence. Nothing wrong with this. However have we taken the idea of financial independence too far by making it a measuring stick of moral character? Thus subconsciously making us feel that fund-raising is beneath us because we do not want to be seen as a ‘have-not’.
There is a level of security in being on the side of the ‘haves’. So if we have what we need and do not have to ask others for help we feel more secure. Nouwen says, “We fear being dependent on others because of the idea that dependence is a threat to our security.” This is true. So we need to ask if this way of thinking is supported by the Bible. No! Our security is not in the things we have, but Who we have. And because of who we are, we are always dependent. Every living thing is dependent not only on God but others.
Perhaps our struggle in asking for money is because we have a misguided relationship with money. We see money as the measuring stick for independence and security. Perhaps maybe even subconsciously we see it as a measuring stick for character? Go back to the lesson at Zarephath, the issue of Elijah asking the widow for a meal was based on security and character; the security and character of GOD not the widow or the prophet. The request was not based on the what, but on the Who.
Read the chapter titled, OUR SECURITY BASE in The Spirituality of Fund-Raising.