Success Can Be Hazardous to Your Spiritual Integrity

I was in the Army though not by choice. I was drafted. It wasn’t a good time to be a combat soldier. Fighting in Vietnam was at its peak. Fortunately, I did not have to serve in battle and I came home in one piece. But had I seen action, the government would have recognized the danger it placed me in and added what it called “hazardous duty pay” to my monthly paycheck. It was a response to sending soldiers into harm’s way. I was being exposed to danger.

In our profession as fundraisers, we confront hazards on a frequent basis. Not hazards to our health, but hazards to our spiritual integrity. I’m sure we all know Psalm 127:1, “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.”

We also know our success as fundraisers is frequently measured by statistics. How much was raised? How long did it take? What was the largest gift? All those numbers can appear on a tally sheet. But consider how a good thing – the achievement of a goal – can become a bad thing for us when it becomes a ruling thing.

  • Achievement is a fulfilling thing; it’s also a vital thing.
  • Where in the past we may have been ambitious for what we want, we now must be ambitious to do the will of God.
  • As human beings we’re achievers, meant to build and rebuild, to grow and expand, to plant and to tear down, to dream and to achieve dreams.
  • But unchecked, ambition becomes a spiritual battleground.
  • We cannot allow ourselves to move from being humble, approachable kingdom servants to being rather proud and not-so-approachable institutional achievers.

The prophet Hosea offered a caution to the Jews in the Northern Kingdom when he warned about remembering why the people felt satisfied.

I cared for you in the wilderness,
    in the land of burning heat.
When I fed them, they were satisfied;
    when they were satisfied, they became proud;
    then they forgot me. (Hosea 13:5-6).

  • Has our quest for fundraising success become our dominant motive?
  • Ultimately God is the achiever; our calling is to be usable tools in His powerful hands.
  • Remember, we have no ability on our own to meet financial goals.
  • Are there areas where we have become more focused on doing rather than on being?
  • In Christ-centered fundraising, success and failure are not a matter of results but are defined by faithfulness.

We can fall victim to a fatal flaw if we think we are able to raise multiple millions of dollars. Bottom line, we do not raise the money. We obediently follow God’s guidance leading to where He deposited the money with generous givers. God leads us to success.

Christian author and conference speaker Paul David Tripp has said “Leaders are easily tempted to take credit for what only God, in his presence, power, and grace could produce.”

A favorable response to a six-figure ask can be a temptation. Surpassing a campaign goal can allow pride to trump the real reason for success – the obedient stewardship of God’s faithful people. If we take credit instead of acknowledging the one who sent us and who alone produces fruit out of our labors, we will praise less, we will pray less, and we will plan more. No doubt all of us acknowledge who is ultimately responsible for our success. Still, we can never be reminded too often who we serve.

When we take credit for what we could not have produced on our own, we assign to ourselves a wisdom, a power, and a righteousness we don’t have. We begin to see ourselves as capable rather than needy, as strong rather than weak, and as self-sufficient rather than dependent.

You wouldn’t think success could be a hazard in our profession, but success can lead to complacency and undeserved self-confidence. If we forget who called us into the field, who equipped us to serve, and who brought about the victory, then we may have won a small battle, but lost touch with our supreme commander.

Author: Denny Bender, Consultant
Before joining The Timothy Group, Denny served as Executive Director of Union Rescue Mission in Wichita, Kansas, a 114-bed emergency housing shelter for homeless men that also provides addiction recovery, a residential life-change and re-engagement program, as well as food assistance and infant care items for women and needy families.

No Comments

Post A Comment

Follow by Email