Beware of the Boasting Donor

“Like clouds and wind without rain is one who boasts of gifts never given” (Proverbs 25:14).

Occasionally, you meet a major donor who checks all your qualifying boxes. They have a link to your organization. They are interested in your projects. They seem to have the ability and willingness to give. They even talk about how much they love your ministry—yet they never give. Solomon illustrates this person as “a cloud without rain.” This prospect gives you hope that they will bless you with a refreshing gift but never produce. Texans describe this person as, “All hat but no cattle.” This potential donor is full of big talk but lacks action. Unfortunately, he or she is a pretender.

How can you identify and avoid this non-giver? Solomon warns us to listen for boasting. James 4:13-16 shares four things proud people boast about.

“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money’” (James 3:13). Boasters have big ideas and big plans. They think they control their calendars, travels, businesses, and profits but they fail to realize that they don’t control anything. The Lord blesses a person with “the ability to produce wealth” (Deut. 8:18).

Arrogant people think they will live forever. “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14). The rich farmer decided to build bigger barns to store his surplus grain. Giving some of his bounty to others didn’t even cross his mind. Little did he realize that his life would be demanded from him that night (Luke 12:17-20). “Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” (Luke 12:20).

“Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that” (James 4:15). People who are filled with pride don’t have room in their vocabulary for God or his will. They are too focused on their plans and never ask the Lord what he would have them do. Jesus himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

“As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil” (James 4:16). Jim was a very successful entrepreneur who talked of giving “big.” He was always chasing the next deal and needed all his cash to make it happen. He made several promises to give even more when the next deal closed but he never gave. Paul taught, “For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have” (2 Cor. 8:12).

Think About This: James makes a sobering conclusion, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them” (James 4:17). The person who boasts of a gift never given is sinning.

Response: Lord, please give me insight to hear if my donor’s heart is focused on your will or their own. Give me wisdom to challenge this type of donor in truth and love about their gift commitment.

Ron Haas has served the Lord as a pastor, the vice president of advancement of a Bible college, a Christian foundation director, a board member and a fundraising consultant. He’s authored two books: Ask for a Fish – Bold Faith-Based Fundraising and Simply Share – Bold, Grace-Based Giving. He regularly presents fundraising workshops at ministry conferences and has written fundraising articles for At the Center magazine and Christian Leadership Alliance’s Outcomes magazine.

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