“Real” Thinking About Money and a survey

Several weeks ago the post I’m Tired of Asking You for Money resonated with many. On Facebook it reached more than 7,000 people, was liked/loved/laughed at 130 times, shared 64 times, and received 24 comments. Needless to say, author Erin Duplechin isn’t the only one tired of asking for money!

Unbeknownst to Erin, I had a rough draft of a finial survey to help me understand the needs and pressures related to finances. Seeing the reactions to Erin’s post, I’ve been thinking about finances and my own reactions to raising support. I thought this post was going to go in one direction—I’ve researched proverbs in the Bible related to mind, heart, and hands of support raising and what Lady Wisdom has to say about the subject—maybe another month that post will see the light of day.

Today, I was reminded of what I wrote in Getting Started: Making the Most of Your First Year on the Field.

“Moving from a ‘real’ job before I went tot he field to a ‘ministry’ one meant that my finances went from being (mostly) my business to the whole wide world’s business. Not quite, but that is how it felt. I needed to add my parents to my bank accounts so they could handle financial stuff in the States; I needed to discuss specific dollar needs and funds raised with anyone who would listen, and I needed to decide whether or not I wanted to raise more money to cover ‘nonessentials.’ (I did not, a decision I would come to regret when I did not have medical evacuation insurance.)

As a teacher I knew I earned my salary through my hard work. As a cross-cultural worker I did not make money; I raised support and lived off the generosity and faithfulness of many dear people. To this day, decades later, I still find myself thinking in terms of earning a ‘real’ salary versus being on full-time support.”

You can read more in Chapter 7. As I worked on Getting Started, it struck me that we only use the word “real” with “salary.” When was the last time you heard the phrase “my real body” as opposed to a “my ministry body”? You don’t. You have a body, I have a body. Or “real weather” versus “ministry weather”? No such distinction. The enemy may have also warped the idea of “real” when it comes to your livelihood.

I need to think more theologically accurately about finances and need your help. Would you take a few minutes to fill out the survey? The intro says:

“We understand that finances in full-time ministry can be complex. On the one hand, we live by faith, trusting God. On the other hand, He has entrusted us with a certain degree of personal responsibility. In addition, we all come from different passport countries with different health care, educational, and retirement systems. This survey is completely anonymous so that you are able to share freely. Thank you for taking the time to help us understand your world better so that we can serve you more effectively. Our hope is to foster financial contentment and the ability to rest in the Lord’s provision.”

Please take the survey here.

Here are a few of the results thus far:

What are your current three most pressing financial stresses?

—PhD tuition. Possibility of monthly
salary cut. Savings being depleted (yet, grateful I had minimal savings).
—Needing to raise support for our children’s educational needs — high school 
—Retirement, retirement, retirement.
—big repair for our vehicle, saving money
—Churches dropping us because we were forced to change fields, the rising cost of living abroad, the dropping value of our sending country currency

What financial issues and areas would you like to discuss or provide training? 

How to feel confident in direct asking for support. 
Retirement // How to send your kids to college // Balancing saving and wise living.
Communicating with donors.
Finding new partners when you feel your resources are tapped out.
I think at this point churches receiving training on why they can’t just drop support out of the blue is most urgent.

Thanks for taking the survey!


Do you find waiting hard? As my niece said, “I just want to know what will happen, then I can wait.” Advent is a season of waiting for the birth of Christ and the beginning of the Church Year. In this workshop, you will be introduced to the role of the Church Year, the role of waiting in spiritual formation, and how to wait. 

Photo by Alain Pham on Unsplash

Missions and Money: A Never Ending Tension

The Bible is full of truth.

Sometimes, the challenge lies in which blend of truth to apply. Many of these tensions surround missions and money.

Let me present three areas missionaries deal with.

1. Raising support as a missionary or minister.
2. Being generous to the poor and needy.
3. Saving money for your future, children’s education, and ultimately an inheritance. 

All these areas are supported by a multitude of Scripture. We cannot pick and choose our favorite, but rather find a way to apply an aspect of all these truths.

Some rights reserved by epSos.de
Some rights reserved by epSos.de

Here is a small sampling of the truth Scripture presents in these areas. The Bible talks about money often, we should take notice! (All verses from the English Standard Version)

1. Raising support as a missionary or minister.

“Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”  (1 Timothy 5:17-18)

“In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 9:14)

“One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches.” (Galatians 6:6)


2. Being generous to the poor and needy.

“For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.” (Deuteronomy 15:11)

“Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed.” (Proverbs 19:17)

“If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:3)


3. Saving money for the future of you and your family.

“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous.” (Proverbs 13:22)

“Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.” (Proverbs 13:11)

“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Timothy 5:8)

I realize these verses are but a sampling of the dilemma we face. It would be easy to dismiss them saying, “Yes but…”

As believers and missionaries, we tell people they can’t pick and choose which truths to apply. Neither can we.

As missionaries we need to have a degree of application stemming from all these truths in our life.

I would go so far to say all missionaries need to wrestle with issues of financial support, being generous to the poor, and saving for our future. Neglecting any of these is neglecting a part of the Word of God.

I have witnessed missionaries who ignore truth in these areas. Some are now older and wondering where they will be since they have lived a life of trusting God to provide.

Trusting God is true. But trusting God is one truth. We cannot take it at the expense of others, including providing for our future.

My goal is not to make absolute statements, rather to provoke “A Life Overseas” discussion.

Would you help us learn from each other by answering one or both of the following questions:

For a moment of honesty….which one of these is most difficult for you? (Just because we are in ministry, does not mean being generous to the poor is always our easiest one. True Confession. It is the hardest for me!)

What is your experience in dealing with blending these truths? How do you reconcile them?

Ready! Set! Discuss!

– Chris Lautsbaugh, Missionary teacher and author with Youth With A Mission, living in S. Africa.
Blog: NoSuperHeroes   Twitter: @lautsbaugh   Facebook: NoSuperHeroes