Hello everyone. As I’m sure we’ve all noticed by this point, this world ours is pretty messed up. Everywhere we look, there are problems that touch on the Christian faith in some way (human trafficking, abortion, rape, food injustice, institutional racism, environmental degradation, and religious persecution, to name but a few). In light of so many problems in this world, knowing that the time and resources we have to offer individually are limited, how does one decide which problem(s) to focus on? Is it cold or calloused to say of an issue, “I realize this is important, but it’s honestly not something I feel called to address”? When deciding how to allocate one’s charitable giving, does one pick a cause and stick with it or diversify? Any thoughts on this topic?
Are you asking how to “manage” your resources. Or are you asking how to find what is God’s will, for you to be doing with your life?
This may sound really weird. But God is not particularly interested in what we think our “resources” are. We are to be good stewards of what God has given to us. But what we perceive as our resources, does not determine what God’s will for us is. Many of the saints have found that it is in times when their worst nightmares come true, and they are devastated and broken, that God starts to bless them in ways that have nothing to do with their own exhausted resources. Paul found this out.
God will provide all the resources, for us to do whatever he commands us to do. This is really difficult, because God often does not give us the resources to follow his guidance, ahead of time.
@MicahB I really like what Andy Stanley says:
Do for the one what you wish you could do for the many. Andy Stanley
To me, that is great advice. Evaluate your gifts and financial resources and then prayerfully evaluate the wisest way to invest deeply in one or two ministries, recognizing that God’s Body is much bigger than just me or you. Our resources are limited, so we must pray what the Lord wants us to do in each season and make the wisest decision we are able.
What are your thoughts on Stanley’s perspective? I found it very helpful. Christ guide you as you seek to serve
Do for the One What You Wish You Could Do for the Many
- go deep rather than wide
- go long-term rather than short-term
- go time, not just money
@Stephen_Wuest I think that what you are saying is true if God has truly given someone a clear call - like Abraham, Moses or Paul. But I personally know some folks who thought God had called them, left everything and then failed because, as it turned out, God had not called them. So I think we must be very careful with this principle, originally given by Hudson Taylor:
God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply. Hudson Taylor
I think in many ways this is an oversimplification of the truth. Because in real life identifying what God’s work is can be difficult. I think it requires:
- affirmation from Christian community
- a sense of calling
- clear giftedness
- open doors
I also think God works differently in different peoples’ lives. So we really need to be careful when giving advice in such weighty matters. I think Friesen has a well balanced perspective on these issues.
Ouch! I’m still scared of setting a precedent. Yes Andy has touched a nerve with this. Not so sure that I can change my ‘mind set’ now. But certainly food to chew upon.
My question here is really about managing the resources we know we have available. A biblical parallel would be the Parable of the Talents: Each servant is given a measurable sum of money and is expected to be productive, but none are told how they are to invest it.
I can think of a few possible objections to this approach:
As much as we may try to ensure that we are giving responsibility, all charitable work is performed by humans, who are prone to corruption; diversifying our giving may be wise to ensure that at least some of our contributions are being used effectively and as intended.
Global problems and local problems may be quite different, so what we devote our time to addressing may be different than what we send most of our money toward.
Just because a particular issue lays heavy on our hearts does not mean we are equipped to address it directly with our time (ex. I might be moved by problems like human trafficking or poor education in other nations, but lack the availability or skill sets necessary to address them myself), but we could still distribute our money to others who are devoting their time to that issue.
@MicahB I agree with the time / money divide - we might teach Sunday school / help out some local families while giving money to Compassion International or RZIM. We are not equipped to do everything. I do not think Stanley literally meant only do 1 thing - but rather invest deeply in a few key areas rather than doing nothing. Also, Stanley is not so much targeting those individuals giving large contributions to multiple causes as he is those who are so overwhelmed that they end up doing nothing… So he is saying rather than doing nothing because you are overwhelmed choose 1 or 2 areas and invest deeply. You don’t have to do everything.
Regarding point (1), what if all the charities you give to are equally corrupt? I think its fine to give to lots of different organizations - again, I don’t think this was really Stanley’s point. But i think a better approach is to choose a few organizations that are transparent with their finances and externally audited and contribute in a meaningful way. I don’t think that giving to more organizations is as important as giving to those organizations that are open / transparent with their finances.
Yes. I think that it is the discerning of God’s will that is important.
Unfortunately, I see a lot of Christians confusing this seeking, with “follow your passions.” And that can mean almost anything.
And with the younger generations, there is the trend that any “humanitarian” work or environmental stewardship work, is what the “calling” or “will” of God is. Unfortunately, the PC monoculture defines what this acceptable behavior is, completely without regard for God, or his guidance. This is a complication, when dealing with topics such as global warming, or social justice. Most people involved in civil rights/social justice/political activism have probably rejected God’s moral/ethical code, and are living as enemies of God.
I think that the parable of the talents, was dealing with abstract resources. Not just money. The talents are whatever the master has given us to work with.
I think that the most common resources are time, energy, and devotion. We have widespread biblical illiteracy, because Christians will not commit time and energy into serious Bible study. This has little to do with how we spend money.
I think that getting a renewed mind, is very important. We need to relearn, how to think. And as Paul says, the purpose of this is to know the will of God. In Ephesians, this is knowing what good deeds God has prepared for us to live out, day by day. I think that living out good works, is what Jesus is talking about, when he talks about a branch bearing fruit. (See his dialogue on “I am the true vine, you are the branches.”)
Good question. Thank you for asking it. This is definitely something I wrestle with regularly.
For myself, I try to listen for the direction of the Holy Spirit in giving.
My spouse and I give to the local fellowship…but, not exclusively.
I work with disenfranchised, exploited youth. So, I feel called to give to ministries that seek to extricate these children and youth from their suffering. ( providing and caring for the fatherless is a biblical mandate).
The same with those who are being oppressed by poverty…(remember the poor, is a biblical mandate.)
To me this means…if you come across someone who is suffering within your sphere of influence, you can ask the Lord how you can help…
Sometimes that means diverting financial help to them. Sometimes it means helping in other ways. (Giving time, labour, or your talents and abilities to lighten their load…without overloading yourself.) (Care for widows…or older single women who can’t do everything that needs to be done.)
There are the sick and disabled. “Joni and Friends” serves the disabled in our world in a beautiful way. ( I love God’s grace and work in Joni! What an amazing testimony of faith and God’s power to save to the uttermost.)
There are Christian para-church ministries to consider like RZIM for example. They are doing their best (as unto the Lord) to bring the word of God and the gospel of Christ to those who will listen.
I would recommend giving a small amount to many of these types of ministries, as well as what you can see within your own community. (The homeless…food banks.) These provide plenty of scope for giving and focus.
Look close by, as well as far away.
Ask God to burden your heart with where and what He wants you to give. He will.
Given the diversity of human beings … if we listen to His leading in giving…by God’s grace, we can and will make a difference.
Hi, I find that prayer is very important in this matter, pray for God to guide you to do his will and everything will fall into place.
@Dianaj What exactly do you mean by ‘everything will fall into place’? Is this based on experiences in your own life?
I know of Christians who gave their money to organizations who misused it even after praying. I am not saying prayer is not effective, but that I think God uses people and situations to guide us. If we pray and then just do what we were planning on doing without asking for advice / thinking carefully might we miss what God is trying to tell us? How do you think the command of Proverbs to ‘seek wisdom and above all else get understanding’ applies to giving?
Yes from my personal experience, I have prayed and Lord did guide me on what to do and where to donate. We also need to do our homework and do a little or a lot of research.