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Poor Language Could Be Costing Us Laborers
Have you ever caught yourself on staff saying any of the following?
“I can’t go with y’all; I don’t have any money right now.”
“Does someone want to give me a ticket to this game? Because I’m broke, but I really want to go.”
“I hope a ministry partner will donate a car to me because mine is falling apart, and I don’t have the money to buy a new one.”
“I’d rather just eat Raman noodles and peanut butter and jelly than have to work on support.”
“I’m letting my hair grow long for now because I don’t have money for a haircut.”
One of the biggest hurdles that college students face when thinking about joining staff is the reality that they will need to trust God to raise their own financial support. Sadly, we as staff members make this hurdle taller for college students (or anyone for that matter) by the way we talk about our finances and financial support in front of them. I’ve heard many of those statements listed above from the mouths of staff in front of students or via Facebook comments/statuses. How sad.
Money may be tight at times, and you may go through seasons of short paychecks or choose to not go to a movie because of the lack of cash flow. What we need to consider is how we talk about those things in front of students. We need to stop having a “poor me” mentality and avoid dropping comments here and there to get free stuff. Sure, it’s great to have a ministry partner who’s a dentist on your team and treats you for free, or a couple who wants to give you their car. But we don’t need to have the “poor me” mentality with the hope/expectation that we will get some free stuff thrown our way. It comes across negatively to partners and students. The message we send is, “I’m a loser.”
Instead of talking about the negative aspects of finances in front of students, let’s share great examples of how God IS providing! Don’t hide that you enjoyed a nice dinner out with family, or that you had a great singles vacation for which you saved regularly.
￼Here are a few suggestions that can help change a student’s view about staff who live on support:
1. Cover the bill! When with a small group of students, spring for all of their lunches or buy an appetizer for the table. It helps them see that we have money and aren’t pinching pennies all the time. I bought all of my table’s shakes at Steak & Shake on a summer project one night, and a student shared later that summer with me about how significant that was for her to see that God provided money for staff, even to a point where they could bless others.
2. Don’t dress like a slob, and stay somewhat current with fashion trends. In some places this really communicates to students.
3. Offer to drive when possible instead of always hopping into a car with a student. If you can’t drive, give the student driver some cash! A staff friend of mine, Lori Joiner, got new car from a ministry partner (a total surprise and shock), and she loved packing her car full of students for retreats, etc. She used this as an opportunity to share how God provides for us through ministry partners in amazing ways!
4. Generously support students to go on Summer Projects or scholarship them to Winter Conference. Often they are afraid to ask staff because they think we don’t have money. Help to change their perspective.
5. Be intentional about mentioning positive support stories around students.
Let’s make a concentrated effort around the nation in how we talk about money and support, knowing that this mindset shift could help more and more students want to consider laboring full time with us in helping to fulfill the Great Commission!
* Photo courtesy of the National Library of Wales (Flickr Creative Commons).