By Kathy Jackson
Last weekend our youth group held one of our major funding raising events. We live in a small town and usually by February people are ready to get out and do something. We hold a vendor event where we rent tables to people who sell things like Tupperware, doTerra essential oils, Avon, Plexus, Tastefully Simple, and local artisans. We sell as many tables as our fellowship hall can hold (around 32) for $20. We also ask that the vendors donate a silent auction item that we set up and people will bid on these during their visit.
One of our volunteers (the mother of one of our students) is a wiz at organizing the vendors. She has the connections and people sign up for the next event as soon as the event is over. Then, during the event, the youth sell concessions. The food we provide is very high quality but we sell it at a low cost. Pulled pork sandwiches from pork that I smoked myself, homemade fried apple pies, and then of course, regular hot dogs, chili, slaw and chips plus coffee, sodas and water, too.
I tell you all of this because we raised around $1,000, which, for our small group, is a lot. Plus there is not much time or effort that we have to put into it. The vendor coordinator works at collecting the names and the money, I smoke the pork, and the coordinator and another friend and I made the fried pies. The students come Friday right after school to set up the tables. Everyone is on deck Saturday morning from 8 am to around 5 to help carry, sell concessions, and clean up. Perfect.
Well, at the end of the day, when we counted the money, I was so frustrated that we did not make much money on the concessions, although we were terribly busy. Now mind you, everyone loved the pulled pork, and they bought the fried pies 10 at a time (we ran out by 11:30 as we only made 50 pies); and they even said the hot dogs were the best. I was not happy even with all of the praise. Why? Why did I expect more?
Well as I went on my little tirade my friend who had managed getting 31 vendors, helped me fry the pies, set up, and more asked me what was my problem? We had just raised a bunch of money, and had amazing fellowship with people in the community for the last six hours. Had I forgotten all of that? Is that not what God had wanted us to do in the first place? Reach out into the community, offer a time for people to enjoy the day with fellowship and some food and to show them God’s love through all of this? Had we not shown our students how to do this and more? Yikes! I had to swallow hard on this. Yes, I admitted, yes.
I had forgotten our purpose. I was focused on raising money, not what God wanted for us.
Matthew 6:24 says, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” At the end of the day, I was focused on raising the money for the mission and not being happy with what we had done. We had fellowshipped, we had laughed, had seen old friends and had made new ones. We had fed folks and made them happy. That is what God had wanted us to do. He would provide everything else for us.
So as leaders in the church, as we go into this season of raising money for missions (and 30 Hour Famine), let’s be aware of where our focus should be. It is on creating community, sharing God’s love and trusting that he will provide us what we ask and need. It is the first thing we should worry about, not about how much money we raised. He will provide: we just have to trust in Him. That is our lesson to our students — Trust in Him. Maybe it’s a lesson for us also.