As with any para-church organization, as with any start-up of any sort, as with any new church plant, we at Capturing Courage have been walking through financial challenges and lessons for awhile now. And we have learned a lot of things.
I used to shy away from money matters. Money used to frighten me and there was always a sense of confusion about how to navigate choices and decisions regarding money. But of course this didn’t do me any good whatsoever. I used to think that the answer to this confusion would be to have more money. After all, if I wasn’t hindered in my choices perhaps I wouldn’t be so confused.
But large infusions of money are never the answer. I know this now. For if we are not competent in the little we won’t be competent in the much. These last few years have seen us becoming competent in the little. And it’s been a really good thing.
In the midst of the last couple of years a few definitive things have been sorted out within my own being that are now impacting the character and nature of us at CCI (as in any organization the leader sets the tone and standard and growth – the organization won’t grow beyond the leaders growth).
The first thing the Lord did was to separate my sense of self from money. In other words, who I am has nothing to do with, takes no bearing from, where our money is at at any given time. Meaning, if I had debt (I learned this in the midst of debt) I was not a less-than person. God poured into me his love and grace and comfort and leading just the same in debt as in much.
This was the work of many painful months (as the Lord dismembered my unholy soul ties with money – I was way too associated with money), looking back I wouldn’t undo this. For this separation then set into place the ability to have much without it making any statement about myself as well. And as we go forward within the many promises and assurances from the Lord that there is plenty of money for the work called of us it is imperative that much does not speak of us but speaks of our Lord.
In other words, I am the same person whether in want or in wealth. This was a critical first thing to learn and something I learned down to the marrow of my bones. As Paul wrote in Philippians, ” for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” 4:11-12
This journey with money has simply been a process of removing ego from the mix. In any of the things we are called to, but particularly within the spirit realm, there must not be anything of us in the mix. Meaning, where we are in the flesh we are weak and prone to compromise and confusion (and outright attack). Where we are in the spirit things are clear and systematic, genuine and true investments in the kingdom of God.
Ego particularly shows up in money decisions. I recently received a text from one of our Ugandan pastors who was expecting me in January. I had let him know that we had made the decision that I would not travel there in January for a number of reasons. His reply was laden thick with disappointment and it caught at my heart.
All of a sudden, where one day before I was so sure that I wasn’t to travel, I now desperately wanted to head there in January. But upon further study of my heart I realized that there was still woven through me this lie and feeling of being a disappointment. I went before the Lord with it, did some business alongside the spirit, wept and prayed it through, and have come out the other side freer than before.
You see, if our decisions are laden with our own ego and the lies and such woven there, our decisions will be bad ones. And we will end up ineffective and unproductive in the work at hand.
We have made it very clear in our statements about how we decide when and where to travel and that we move according to the Holy Spirit only. We don’t go with our best ideas or anyone else’s for that matter. Yet right there in the midst of feeling a disappointment all of the careful movement with the spirit was almost thrown out the window.
For, with the spirit + not disappointing = really bad decision making.
Ego had to be removed once more from the equation. Money matters and the decisions around them highlight where our ego’s remain in the mix. For in my need (notice, my need, not the Lords) to not disappoint I was ready to bombard our donors for more money and to ‘make it happen’ for January in Uganda.
But in this I would have violated so many of the things we have learned. For instance:
1. Do with what we have.
2. God is not in a rush.
3. Faithful with a little.
4. Trust the timing of each trip.
5. Slow steady growth is best.
6. Do not move with the programs of men.
7. Rest in the Lord and he will provide.
And quite frankly, if the only way we can follow the leading of the Lord and understand his timing is by the money at hand or not at hand, we are still crippled as leaders. If the only thing that tells us that ‘yes now it is time to go to such and such a place’ is the money available we are sunk.
It’s one of the other things I’ve been learning and that must still be fully realized in my being, that money is a non-entity. That in the kingdom of God money holds no more power than a flea on the ground. It is us who give way too much power to money. It is us who exaggerate its voice.
To truly move by the Spirit would be the ability (for us at CCI) to hold back even with much money in the bank. For are we making rational decisions alongside the spirit or emotional decisions alongside money?
Our hearts want to go everywhere today. As we continue building and investing and showing up in relationship after relationship my own heart is torn and tested time and again. We cannot go everywhere at once. I’m not even so sure we can go everywhere in this coming year. So how do we decide?
What I do know, is that we wait on the leading and the guiding of the Holy Spirit. We put aside our own best thoughts and wisdoms and we truly wait. Then, when the Lord says, ‘Go’, then we go, and not before. At the same time when the Lord says, ‘Go’ we make our plans in the provision of the Lord even if we cannot see it all at the front end.
Money is simply passion and energy and vision and we call it forth in surrender and service to the leading of our Lord. The lack of it will not lead us, the much of it will not lead us. Rather, we are led by the Spirit of our Living God.
As we surrender again and again to this way of being alongside our Lord we create a space, we lead the way, we set the stage, we model to money that it too must surrender to this way. Money must also bow itself to the timing and direction of our Lord here at CCI.
Amen and amen in the name and the blood of our Living Lord Jesus Christ.
With all glory to you Father.