Giving Put to Competitions
It is a common practice in many places whenever there is a fundraising to ask people to pledge what they would give. There is no problem fundraising but the way it is done can be a problem.
I was once visiting in a church where the pastor encouraged competition in giving to see who was going to win. I eavesdropped on a conversation by some members of the church after the meeting. They were applauding a lady who wouldn’t allow anyone to defeat her. It was customary for this church to fundraise once a year. Each year the lady would win. She used even to take a bank loan just to make sure that she won.
The giving would take a public proclamation of how much one would pledge to give. As he presided over the fundraising, the pastor asked the congregation to identify themselves with the amount they would give.
First those who would give 10 000 were called out, followed by 5 000, then 2 500, followed by 2 000; 1 500, 1 000, etc. This is a manipulative and extortive way to make people give. In this kind of arrangement, some people give so much in order to ‘save image’, others to impress. I have personally sat in some church settings where funds were being raised without raising my hand to publicly identify myself with the amount I would give. People have literally turned to look at me expecting to hear me mention what I would give.
The justification is that if there is a target to be met, the pledges would help in the accounting.
The Biblical giving is where the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is giving (Matt. 6:3). Unless it is technically impossible to hide, we shouldn’t let others know what we are giving. We should give what we have purposed in your heart and it doesn’t matter what others are giving (2 Cor. 9:7).
Any giving that is motivated by the spirit of competition, or yielding to manipulation, or coercion, etc. is not a godly giving. The Bible records many cases where people gave voluntarily beyond expectation without being ‘taught’ to give or prodded to do so. They were also asked or shown what the need was and then they were left to do the necessary (1 Chron. 29:2-9, Neh. 7:70-72, Acts 10:2).
Prodding, manipulation, extortion, etc. only cause confusion to the extent that a believer may misappropriate the resources that were meant to be used elsewhere. He may give only to regret later. We are responsible to know what God has laid in our heart so that we don’t have to allow anyone to manipulate us in any way. Remember that this is not to ask believers to rebel and refuse to give as need be. May God inspire us from within to be great givers who don’t need to be prodded or manipulated.
Reflections and Questions to Ponder
a) How do you feel and respond after losing in the competition?
b) How do you feel and respond after winning in the competition?
c) What do you do when you realize that people have set you against others to compete them when it was not your idea?4. In most ministries, competitions bring with it an almost irresistible desire to please the people. How is this a danger to managing the talent that God has given us?5. What are the benefits of competition and comparison? And what are the disadvantages? How do we get the balance? 6. Thinking big and thinking small can each be both a problem and a benefit.
a) When is thinking big a problem and when is it a benefit?
b) When is thinking small a problem and when is it a benefit?7. When God choses you to be a leader, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are better than everybody else. When you can do something better than your leader, it doesn’t necessarily mean that God intends that you take over leadership.
a) What is your take on the above statement?
b) How would the above statement help leaders who get intimidated when they are ‘outshined’?
c) How would the above statement help those who think that when they do something better than their leader then they ought to replace the leader?
d) Cite some biblical examples supporting the fact that leaders don’t have to be the ‘best’ and the ‘best’ don’t have to be leaders.