Courage to Ask

“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16).

Esther was reluctant about approaching Ahasuerus to plead her people’s cause. As king of the world, he had a nasty habit of executing uninvited guests. Showing up unannounced risked a 50/50 chance for survival. If he extended his golden scepter toward you, you were good to go. If not, it was a big thumbs down. Esther experienced Spirit-filled courage when she decided to approach the king. Some executive directors, presidents, heads of school, and ministry leaders are fearful of approaching major donors and asking for a gift. Esther’s four steps can transform you from cowardice to confidence.

Haman devised a plot to exterminate the Jews. Mordecai learned of his evil plans and sent a message to his niece, Esther, pleading with her to get involved. Their situation had every component of a compelling case for fundraising—a problem, a solution, and incredible urgency. Your first fundraising question is, “What’s our purpose for raising money?” The answer must be stronger than, “We just need it.” You must solve urgent problems.

Esther’s first response was to pretend that everything would be alright. Mordecai sat in sackcloth and ashes mourning their death sentence. She sent new robes; he refused. Mordecai’s prodding touched her heart, “If you won’t help, God will use someone else.” If your organization doesn’t raise the needed funds to serve the people God has called you to serve, perhaps God will use another ministry.

Mordecai’s final argument was, “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14). God placed Esther in the Persian palace at just the right time for this purpose. God has placed you in your position for this moment in your organization’s history. If you’re the leader, he has called you to lead your fundraising efforts “for such a time as this.”

Esther is a wonderful example of humble reliance on prayer. She called all the Jews living in Susa to fast and pray for her audience with the king. Fundraising is spiritual work. If you attempt it in human effort, you will fail. You must pray fervently. “In the Lord’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him” (Proverbs 21:1).

Response: Father, please forgive me for my reluctance to ask major donors to partner with us. Prompt me to ask others to pray for our fundraising success.

Think About This: “Once we are prayerfully committed to placing our whole trust in God, and have become clear that we are concerned only for the Kingdom; once we have learned to love the rich for who they are rather than what they have; and once we believe that we have something of great value to give them, then we will have no trouble at all in asking someone for a large sum of money.” Henry Nouwen

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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