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Three Lessons for Steward Leaders by Gary G. Hoag, Ph.D.


Christian Leadership Alliance

by Gary G. Hoag, Ph.D. ~

What should we say to constituents when the ministry we serve has financial needs?

Recently a ministry leader emailed me and asked for advice before sending a message to board members and ministry supporters. While I will keep the identity of this steward leader confidential, I want to share what happened and the kingdom outcomes and lessons that came from it so that many can benefit from the learning experience.

The ministry was a week away from having to make payroll and charitable gift income was down. Sound familiar? In response the executive director had drafted a brief note and asked for feedback on it before sending it.

Lesson #1: Get counsel in times of crisis. Here is the first draft of the note to constituents.

“Anything that makes me need God is a blessing. Anything? Anything!”

This morning I read this provocative thought and it pretty well describes where I am right now. [The ministry] is going strong. Morale is up and the future is bright with so many exciting things on the horizon. In a phone call a few minutes ago, [a key leader we are working with] said that he is extraordinarily encouraged by what is underway with [a new area of ministry]. We have wonderful potential, a fine team and so much for which to thank God.

But funds are lagging and the shortfall is troubling. We are managing costs well, doing just what we need to do to press forward into the promises of God. First quarter donation income in 2014 was $800K; this year through today’s date, $615K. There is still a week to go before the end of the quarter. Will you join me and pray that our partners will come along side and share in the fullness of God’s generous provision?

I resonated with some of the text, but I had a key concern after praying about what did not seem right. It sounded to me like the executive director was calling me to pray that “our partners” would save us in this time of crisis. It needed a subtle, yet vital, edit.

Lesson #2: Be open to constructive input. Consider a different approach in this revised text.

“Anything that makes me need God is a blessing. Anything? Anything!”

This morning I read this provocative thought and it pretty well describes where I am right now. [The ministry] is going strong. More [ministry initiatives] are running than ever in the USA and more people are finding life in Jesus Christ. Morale is up among staff and the future is bright with so many exciting things on the horizon. In a phone call a few minutes ago, [a key leader we are working with] said that he is extraordinarily encouraged by what is underway with [a new area of ministry]. We have wonderful potential, a fine team, and so much for which to thank God.

What brings us to our knees is our current financial situation. We are managing costs well and doing just what we need to do to press forward into the promises of God, but first quarter donation income in 2014 was $800K; this year through today’s date, $615K. Rather than consider this a crisis, we are choosing to label it a blessing. It gives us the opportunity to invite our friends to grow with us in sharing God’s provision. There is only a week to go before the end of the quarter, would you pray with us for God’s provision to move through the doors God is opening for ministry?

The revisions endeavored to accomplish two aims: (1) to call people to pray collectively to God for provision, while (2) reminding people that growth in giving is sharing what God has provided. The response was unprecedented. More than $400k came in. The steward leader shouted praise to God and reported back these kingdom outcomes.

The steward leader testified trust in God, called people to pray, and pray they did! God stirred hearts to give, and God got all the glory (cf. 2 Cor 9:12).

Lesson #3: Urge people to pray to God in times of need (as He is our Provider), and ask Him to fund His growing work through willing servants that you encourage to grow in sharing His provision. Looking back, we all rejoice at the kingdom outcomes and pray you find these lessons helpful for you too.

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Gary G. Hoag, Ph.D.(New Testament, Trinity College, Bristol, UK), serves as ECFA Press Author and International Liaison as well as Visiting Professor at TEDS among other roles. He has dedicated his life to encouraging Christian generosity as the Generosity Monk. To receive his daily Meditations, visit www.generositymonk.com.

If you haven’t registered for The Outcomes Conference: CLA Dallas 2016, there is still time to SAVE now through August 31, 2015.  CLA members’ can also take advantage of registering four people at the same time and earning a fifth registration free. Register early – it’s good financial  stewardship!

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