Opinionated Major Donors

But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy” (2 Kings 5:11).

As commander of the army of the King of Aram, Naaman was a proud man and by human standards he had every reason to be. “He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly-regarded” (2 Kings 5:1). He was rich and famous and accustomed to telling people what to do. Only one thing held him back, he had leprosy. A servant girl he had captured told his wife that Elisha would heal him. So, he made a pilgrimage to see the prophet.

When Naaman’s entourage arrived. Elisha didn’t even come to the door but sent his servant to instruct Naaman to go wash in the Jordan seven times and be healed. Naaman stomped off in a huff and told his servant that Elisha should have at least come out to meet him, pray to his God, wave his hands over the leprosy, and cure him. He was convinced that he knew more than Elisha about how to heal his leprosy.

Major Opinion
Naaman’s attitude toward Elisha’s instructions is like some major donors who think that you are doing ministry all wrong. No doubt you’ve listened patiently to someone who doesn’t understand why you did or did not do something a certain way. You should be eager to listen, learn, and respond, but don’t change something just because a wealthy donor says you should.

Major Change
A courageous servant spoke truth and changed Naaman’s mind. He went to the Jordon, washed seven times, and was healed physically and spiritually. It may not happen often but occasionally a major donor who has opposed you, may come to their senses, see things differently, and apologize. (see 2 Timothy 2:24-26).

Major Gift
Naaman rushed back to Elisha and offered him extravagant gifts of gold, silver, and clothing. But Elisha did something that most ministry leaders would never consider—he refused his gifts. In contrast to false teachers who use religion for financial gain, Elisha wanted to reinforce that salvation is free. Are you more concerned about a gift or your prospective donor’s spiritual health?

Major Lesson
Naaman asked permission to take some dirt home so he could sacrifice burnt offerings to the Lord. Then he asked if God would forgive him for accompanying his king to the pagan temple as part of his job. Elisha granted both requests told him to go in peace. Elisha showed grace and kindness to this new believer because he knew that spiritual growth takes time.

Response: Father, please help me care more about my donor’s relationship to you than anything else. Please give me discernment to know when I should refuse a gift.

Think About This: Some donors may be tempted to influence your decisions by wielding their checkbooks. It’s easier to refuse a gift when it comes with strings that might pull you off mission. Don’t sacrifice your core values for a short-term gain. Stand for biblical truth. God will bring you like-minded partners who will appreciate your courage.

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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