I don’t like asking for help. In a culture that celebrates independence, I want to do everything on my own. When I can’t, I feel weak. I don’t even like asking for directions or shoving the new jar of pickles into my roommate’s hands because I can’t open it.
The Bible has a lot to say on giving. Christians are called to be generous, love others, and give financially. Tithing is an important practice, because our money does not belong to us alone. But I didn’t notice what God says about receiving gifts until recently. I’m pretty sure He had a good chuckle when I started working for a charitable organization and realized I had to raise my own financial support.
Ugh. Asking people for money. I hate the idea, and it’s easy to come up with very plausible objections to it. Friends and family are going to look down on me for not being able to support myself. I’m too introverted, so I won’t succeed. People are going to say no. No one will want to help me. It’s wiser to work part-time somewhere else so I can support myself in my ministry (and that way I don’t have to beg).
“Sometimes it can feel so un-American to ask,” writes Steve Shadrach, executive director of Center for Mission Mobilization, in his book “The God Ask.” “Most of us were brought up where it was considered a weakness to ask for something. We can be so self-sufficient, not needing anything from anybody. This may be American — but it is not Christian. We need to get into our heads that it’s not only OK to ask, it is good to ask. It’s biblical to ask.”
That’s right; it’s biblical to ask. Apparently, it’s not just a necessary evil; relying on each other is actually what God intends for us. And if I need proof, all I have to do is look at Jesus’ life:
“Soon afterwards, He began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God. The twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means” (Luke 8:1-3, emphasis added).
Jesus could’ve funded His ministry through a rich donor in a second. Why didn’t he just get the pesky finances out of the way in one fell swoop so he could get on with what was important? Why rely on relatively poor people to support him regularly?
Because their giving wasn’t just for His benefit; it was for theirs, too. Expanding God’s kingdom means inviting people to invest in it, personally and financially. His donors wanted to support Him, wanted to free Him up to do His work, and were touched by His mission. And Jesus modeled this method of support so His disciples would go out and do the same, gathering people who would pray for them, provide for them, and encourage them.
Paul followed Christ’s example, planting churches across Asia while living off support. “He was willing to risk relationships as well as his life to ask and challenge people to give—not to him—but to Christ’s work through him,” writes Shadrach. Paul spends a lot of time pointing out that giving is beneficial for people’s spiritual lives. But if no one’s ever asking, and we are all in our self-reliant bubbles determined to fend for ourselves, then a relationship won’t happen.
“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12, NLT).
Just like God tells Adam it is not good for man to be alone, and Paul tells the Galatians to bear one another’s burdens, we are made to help each other. Sometimes that involves putting our pride aside and asking.
This includes financial concerns and beyond, as most of us have trouble asking for help in general. It’s easier to suffer in silence and hunker down by ourselves until we burn out, than admit we can’t do something on our own. Plus, we don’t want to be a burden to others. It’s not fair for me to dump my baggage on someone else, I often think. But the reality is, many people are willing to help if I just tell them what I need. Needing others isn’t shameful; it’s partly why we were created. By asking for help, we’re acknowledging that purpose, allowing other people to be blessed, and staying humble. Admitting weakness and receiving help is following God’s plan for our lives.