The other day a colleague of mine, presented a verse in the Bible that I have read many times before. But, on that morning, it was like I was hearing it for the first time.  

1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”  

This is an incredible statement.  What if it is true?

Maybe it is because of the times we live in right now, the job we do as development officers and leaders, or maybe it is just me; but do you feel it too? Fear feels ever present. But this verse is telling us, it doesn’t have to be. This verse says things can be different. This verse says that love drives out fear.  This is a big deal, because often it feels like fear is driving us out.

What if I don’t raise enough money? We will close our doors.

What if nobody answers the call?  We won’t have enough.

What if I can’t make the numbers work?  I’ll be out of a job.

Did you know that, according to researcher Penelope Burk, the average amount of time a development officer stays in his or her job is 16 months. Why?

Is it because we are doing our jobs from a place of fear? Can we find a better way?

We say that our primary duty as development officers is to raise the money that will fund our ministries, but I contend that is not true. And more, I believe that when we start at that place we too easily miss love, and without love, fear drives our actions.  

Nehemiah is a great leader from the Bible, called into the ministry of helping his people. In order to do this, he had to ask his employer – the King – to grant him favor and let him leave for a time to help his people. This was not an easy ask, and Nehemiah was afraid before he asked the King, in fact my Bible says dreadfully afraid.  But, he did ask, and because it was all documented, we can learn so much by the way he moved forward.

While fear was present in Nehemiah, it did not drive him. His love was greater than his fear; love for his people who were floundering and hurting, love for His God, who was worthy and good, and don’t miss this – love for the King, who would become the first major donor of the project. Love drove out fear.

There are two things we shouldn’t miss from this story:

#1: Nehemiah had earned the right to ask the king to participate in his passion because Nehemiah knew the King, served the King and cared for the King. Nehemiah did the King a great honor by asking him to join the project.

#2:  God was responsible for the results. Nehemiah was full of fear, but he shared – and when it was all on the line, when he had to have the right words – he prayed. God moved the king’s heart toward favor. God funded the project – and God got the glory.

Like Nehemiah, we do not need to be driven by our fear, our love can drive out the fear that we feel.  When we care about the people we call donors, we pursue them, we ask about their families and their interests, we pray for them, and we respect them enough to ask them to join our vision to bring restoration and life to what is broken.

Our primary job is not to raise money, it is to carry our passion into the lives and stories of other people and then plant a seed or ask, and leave it to God to move in their hearts.

Think about what changing your starting point might look like in a practical way. People are not answering your calls and not calling you back  – fear feels defeated, but love asks a different question.  Love asks how can I reach out and love them? Love thinks of ways to begin a relationship – maybe drop by the office with a dozen donuts, send a copy of a book you enjoyed, or email an invitation to a concert.  People put up barriers all the time because they have been hurt, or they have been misused, or any other many reasons. Our job is to knock down those barriers, love them no matter what, and plant seeds. Let’s leave it to God to do the harvesting.

My prayer is that this note will cause us to rethink what development is honestly about, and move us to see donors as a major part of our ministry. Your ministry may be radio, homelessness, or education, but we all have donors that we can love. Let’s care for them! Pray for them! Plant the seeds that God brings in with the harvest!

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