Will God Give Us What We Need?
There is no question that the work of a development officer is hard. Each year we receive a new revenue goal and every day we see that goal staring us in the face. On top of that, we recognize that we do not control the ultimate outcome for which we are measured: hitting that goal. How then do we avoid the anxiousness that can overwhelm us as we seek to raise resources for God’s kingdom?
“God is going to give us exactly what we need, no more, no less. So what are you worried about?”
Several years ago, Tim Keller, co-founder and chairman of the board of Redeemer City to City, who recently went to be with the Lord, said in conversation, “God is going to give us exactly what we need, no more, no less. So what are you worried about?”
This perspective places God at the center of our work and gives us hope for a successful year, achieving the exact outcomes that God intends as we faithfully sow and cultivate hearts to be generous toward God. It does not promise a road without trials, however. So how do we prepare our hearts each day and experience the joy of our calling?
Three Biblical Ideas
I suggest there are three biblical ideas in Tim’s statement that can help us on a day-to-day basis. 1) God knows what we need; 2) God owns everything and is generous; and 3) Even though he controls the outcomes, we have work to do. Let’s look at these ideas.
God Knows What We Need
Let’s put Tim’s statement into a biblical context by looking at Jesus’ words. “[D]o not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:25, 27, 32-33 ESV).
I admit that even though I know money isn’t an issue for God, since he owns everything and will fund his work, I continually lapse into thinking that hitting my goal is dependent solely on my work. Then my anxious thoughts begin to pile up. Clearly Jesus knew that we are vulnerable to anxiety and lovingly assured us that the Father has all our needs covered.
I suggest that as we do our work, we need to ask some questions.
Jesus then redirects our focus: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” I suggest that as we do our work, we need to ask some questions. Is the mission of the organization I serve a kingdom mission? Are we joining God in his work or are we building our own kingdom? Is there mission drift? He provides for his kingdom, not ours.
God Owns Everything and Is Generous
“The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and all who dwell therein…” (Psalm 24:1-2). God’s ownership, of everything, including us, isn’t a difficult idea to accept, but we often act as if we are owners and not stewards. Wesley K. Willmer writes in his book, Stuff & Soul (Kingdom Life Publishing, Jan. 2020) “Everything we have is really just on loan to us, ‘our’ things aren’t really ours at all, they are God’s.”
After a major capital campaign, King David prayed, “Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own” (1 Chron. 29: 12a, 16 ESV).
God gives freely and sacrificially. His greatest act of generosity was the giving of his Son. “For God so loved the world, that he gave…” (John 3:16). Kelly M. Kapic writes in his book, God So Loved, He Gave (Zondervan, 2010), “Out of his love for the world the Father sends the Son by the Spirit to become one with us … [T]his is essentially the story of redemption—God reclaims ownership by paying an exorbitant price for what was already his.”
Kapic continues, “When captured by the depth of God’s gifts in the gospel, we discover that he frees us to participate in his work of grace, hope, righteousness, and love. This is the generous life; this is what belonging to God is all about.”
“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32). It’s in God’s very nature to provide all we need.
Even Though He Controls the Outcomes We Have Work To Do
Understanding the distinction between our work and God’s is vital. Paul writes, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So, neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” (1 Cor. 3:6-7).
In The Sower (ECFAPress, 2010), R. Scott Rodin and Gary G. Hoag provide powerful insight on this passage as it relates to our fundraising work. They highlight how Paul views his own work through the lens of God’s work. They say, “[Paul and Apollos] each have a role to play, but compared to God’s work of ‘making things grow,’ Paul’s and Apollos’ work of planting and watering amounts to very little. This is not meant to demean our work, but to place it in its proper relationship to the work of God in and through (and sometimes in spite of) ours.”
Ultimately, Paul is concerned about who gets the credit. Rodin and Hoag continue: “[Paul] diverts all praise and glory away from himself and Apollos and gives it solely to God for the ministry that has taken place in Corinth. He will not allow himself, Apollos, or those who follow them to steal glory from God.”
The point is this: we sow and cultivate, but God gives the increase.
The point is this: we sow and cultivate, but God gives the increase. God is the fundraiser. It's in this context that we approach our work with deep humility and dependence on God. In addition, it’s in this context that we find peace in the certainty that God will give us exactly what we need.
Hope in God's Faithfulness
Knowing that God is at the center of my work gives me hope for a successful year. In Hope in Times of Fear (Penguin Books, 2021), Tim Keller writes, “To have hope in God is not to have an uncertain, anxious wish that he will affirm your plan but to recognize that he and he alone is trustworthy, that everything else will let you down (Psalms 42:5, 11, 62:10), and that his plan is infinitely wise and good.”
So, when I arise each day I remind myself that I have work to do—work to which God has called me. I am called to be faithful and to plow through the day sowing and cultivating the hearts of those God is calling to support the mission of Redeemer City to City. I also rest in the fact that not everyone I talk with is called to give, but I know God will provide the resources we need to advance the gospel in the principal cities of the world. My confidence is not in my skills but in God who makes things grow.
Doug Thorson is Senior Director of Advancement at Redeemer City to City (RCTC), He serves RCTC’s giving partners and the advancement efforts that support the organization's rapidly growing global footprint. Thorson views his role as a calling to help faithful stewards grow in generosity. He is also the Founder/CEO of Doing Good Nonprofit Consultants, LLC. He serves on the CLA Advisory Council.
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