Friday, June 29, 2012

Money & Adoption Series - Part 3

Finding a Faith Centered Perspective

You know I am “big” on perspective. It helps me in oh so many areas of my life. Money is definitely a part of life where I am always challenged to see things through a new perspective, and mainly from God’s perspective.

To be honest, I am not great with money… mainly because I “don’t do math” and part of money is math (I am a genius… I know!). For those of you like me, don’t start to sweat, I am not going to start budgeting or formulate an excel spreadsheet! And those of you who are accountants or auditors or something, well, this isn't about the bottom line (or all the lines in between). We are talking about PERSPECTIVE. Through fundraising/support raising I’ve found a very simple way of looking at money and support raising.

Biblical Perspective on Money

There are 5 important principles to consider about money and fundraising in God’s Word…
  1. All things are God’s. (Psalm 24:1)
  2. God is the source of all and is sovereign over all things, people and events. (Isaiah 46:10)
  3. He gives abundantly, in His will and provides for us. (Matthew 6:25-34 and Phil. 4:19)
  4. We need to view money as HIS, not our own, for our own means. We are given the opportunity to be stewards of what God gives us. (Matthew 6:24)
  5. Prayer works and matters! Go to God with your needs. Share it with Him and see Him respond to your prayers. (Matt 21:22)

When we need money from others the temptation is to view others as a wealthy benefactor and us as a convincing sales person… we are selling our goal, ministry or project to them. We desire them to give us as much money as we personally want or need.

This isn’t a correct perspective… it isn’t Biblically based on God's glory or on right attitude.

Try this one instead…

Money is a unit of someone else’s labor, time or resources. God gave it to them in their ability to work, time spent doing tasks in a day or as a gracious gift. When we ask others to share this unit of labor, time or resources we are asking them to give us something that God has given them. They may not see it as such, however. But undoubtedly they will at least see it as a resource that belongs to them or has been entrusted to them. We are still accountable for having the right perspective on money/units even if they don't.

When we receive the gift of someone’s labor, time or resource we are taking it and should view it as a gift, both from them and also from God… to be used with care, thanks giving and for God’s glory and will… not our personal desires or material gain. We ask for help from others in money/units because we believe that God has lead us to adding to our family in this manner. We, by faith, are stepping forward both with personal commitment and also with hope in God to work and provide for us and our new child financially. We humbly ask others to come along side us in sharing of what God has graciously given them!

Other People's Perspectives on Their Money and Adoption Fundraising

I think I need to address one important thing. When you go toward fundraising, particularly for adoption, you will most likely receive one of 3 responses, and you need to prepare yourself to respond tactfully and graciously with some of them… in advance.

  1. Full and accepting enthusiasm to help and come by your side in this process to financially help you bring your child home.
  2. Very strong discouragement towards helping you raise money to bring home a child… perhaps even anger or resentment that you'd ask.
  3. Uncertainty or inability to help you as you bring your child home.

The later two have differing personal reasons behind the individual’s logic, feeling or conviction (their personal perspective), one I think not best to assume or make judgments about. Some people have an unbiblical view of their money/units… it is their’s and they are not giving of it for whatever reason. Some people just don’t like or support adoption as a valid or God-given way to grow a family. Others don’t think it is appropriate to ask for help in adding a child to your family, as that is typically not done with biological children. Some people will not see it as a way that they personally can help and further God's will. And some will not be called by the Holy Spirit to be stewards of their money in helping you personally.

When we stop worrying about our abilities to get money from others and respond in faith and obedience to work and walk with in the Holy Spirit we are also understanding that, similarly, individuals on the giving side of fundraising are too, simply trying to walk in faith and obedience through the giving of the money God has provided them. Both the fund raising and giving sides need to have a faith-based perspective that seeks to participate within the work of the Lord alone. In many ways they are very similar places to be, both acting in faith and looking to God to do His will with what He gives and provides for us!

Personal Perspective: Stewardship

I mentioned last time that we are also to use money/units with the utmost care… minimizing the need to live outside our means. This is where you put your values in line with your choices and money management. This is the concept of “stewardship”. What do you value more: getting your child home, making the most of other people’s labor units or your personal comfort and desires?

If anyone of my bio (and now adopted) children were separated from me I know I wouldn’t even once consider if my coffee expenses were worth eliminating to get them home or if I ought to go spend $100 getting my hair cut and colored. I wouldn’t think how that would affect my comfort or desires.  I’d get rid of it out of good stewardship and also because I fully understand what is at stake… my child.

Some ways to practice stewardship are to eliminate "life-style expenses"… we don’t need these things to live, but we think they make our life easier and more enjoyable. 

I really don't think a family can, in good conscience, approach others asking for money if they haven't first eliminated life-style expenses from their spending. The meaning of stewardship is making the most of what is available to you, first of your own money, then of other's that is given to you!

Some ideas are of things to eliminate:
·      Additional phone lines, call waiting, caller ID (doing this saved us nearly $200 a year)
·      Gym memberships ($500 yearly savings)
·      Coffee shop spending… make your own. ($780 yearly savings)
·      Cable or Satellite TV, watch shows online, instead. ($250 yearly savings)
·      Eating out… you’ll probably lose some weight too. ($2800 yearly savings)
·      Preschool and childcare… teach and care for your kids at home. ($6000 yearly savings).
·      Find a babysitter who will bless you with this care... grandma, aunts, or a friend you can childcare share with. ($600 yearly savings)
·      Downsized your grocery/food budget by $100 a month… (that is $1200 a year!)
·      Beauty treatments, hair care, nails, massages, pedicures, etc…($720 yearly savings… at least).

Make a list of all your monthly expenses and try to cut out all the things you really don't need. If you eliminated all of the above from your monthly expenses for one year, you’d save around $13,000… (That is, if you spend money on these things and would eliminate it fully from your expenses). 

That is mind-boggling to me!!!
That is nearly half of most adoptions!!!

Another aspect of stewardship is giving thanks and gratitude to others for their help, support and giving. It is highly discouraging to give something to someone or to serve someone in some way and not be appreciated for it… even if you are not doing it to get attention or gratitude. It is ungrateful and selfish.

One thing that I wrongly assumed was that I should wait until our children got home to thank people… to show the results, so to speak. I really don’t think that this was the best choice for two reasons: 1. I forgot who helped us, and getting thank yous out with new little needy people around is HARD, 2. Thanks should be immediate and genuine. I don’t think that it always has to be in writing, but I would say either a call or a hand written letter is the best and most genuine form of thanks (email doesn’t cut it).

Perspective on Adoption and the Need

My last bit on “perspective” is that the adoption process requires a perspective that is often sort of missed, both by others and at times even potential adoptive parents. 
We tend to separate ourselves from the reality of what adoption is… because it is painful.

You have a child who is separated from you!
Your child (and you) are in pain, turmoil and trauma from this separation!
Children are created to grow up best in families! And you believe this child is to be your son or daughter!
You are doing everything YOU can to get your child to you, but you need help!
Will others join you?

Really, this is all that needs to be shared. That and only that!

We will talk more next time on sharing your story/need with others and what methods you can use to both make money though work/sales and to help people respond to your needs through giving.

And, wow, that was A LOT... if you are still with me, thanks for getting through it... this was the "tough" stuff!

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