A barrier of shame

Are you afraid of having to raise your financial support for a missions trip? Does the idea stop you from wanting to go at all? Maybe you’ve started the support raising process but feelings of uncertainty and unworthiness have surfaced. Perhaps you are tempted to give up and think, “What’s the point?”

For me, the idea of raising support can often trigger insecurities that I have about money, and that’s why it can feel like such a barrier. I can easily feel ashamed when I am about to ask others for their financial support. We live in a culture where talking about money can be taboo, let alone asking others to consider giving!

As if shame surrounding money alone wasn’t enough, support raising for a missions trip can create many “what if” worries in my mind. What if I don’t raise all of it? What if my parents disapprove? What if I dishonour my family or I embarrass myself?

These feelings of shame can hinder my progress in raising support and can have real influence over my heart and decisions. They even have the potential to stop me from joining God in his mission, and prevent me from seeing God faithfully provide fully for my financial needs.

Why is it so easy to feel this way? What’s really going on?

What is Shame?

Shame says, “there’s something wrong with me,” when either we sin or someone sins against us. It’s often more pervasive and can be harder to define or notice than guilt which is tied to a specific action of “I’ve done something wrong.” Experiencing shame is a very human response, and many of us struggle with it.

The Bible explains that when we experience shame our first response can be to try and hide from God. However, we need to bring our shame before God to allow the truths of the gospel to transform our heart and understanding of who God is and how he views us.

Shame and Support Raising

You can also feel the effects of shame even when you haven’t sinned. When you feel like you have failed to meet the expectations of your culture, family, or even yourself, shame can be overwhelming. Having to raise financial support for a missions trip definitely isn’t sin, but it can sure evoke feelings of shame. Shame can plague our conscience simply because our parents, friends, church, or culture may not agree with raising support for a mission trip, even though there is clear biblical precedent for financial partnership in this way.

God can use the support raising process to give you joy, shower you with his grace, and bring glory to himself. It’s actually an incredible journey that can bring great blessing to your life! Feeling shame in support raising is often the consequence of looking for the approval of people more than God. The truth is, Jesus is Lord and he is the one we should seek to please.

It’s Really About Seeking Approval

When we fail to please others and meet their expectations, they can “reject, ridicule… ignore… and withhold the acceptance, love, or significance we want from them. As a result, we feel worthless.”

Edward Welch, When People Are Big and God is Small.

It’s all too easy to act out of fear to avoid the rejection of others, and pursue their acceptance in order to feel worthy and loved. We can be more concerned with letting others down than honouring or obeying God. However, when we live for the approval of others, we can still easily experience shame because the opportunity for rejection exists.

Moving from, “I’m not enough” to “I am accepted by the King” frees us from shame. From there, you have the power to reject shame and walk in freedom and faith toward where God is leading you. This allows you to pursue raising support for a missions trip with courage and boldness.

Photo Credit: JWatt

Paul’s Response

Paul, an early church leader, took the issue of living for human approval seriously. In his letter to the church of Galatia, he reminds the Galatians of the importance of living in the reality of the freedom the gospel gives, rather than for the approval of people. He says,

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10, ESV)

Paul knew that if they pursued the approval of those influential people over the truth of God, the believers of Galatia would not be able to say with integrity that they were servants of God. When we make people our primary source of affirmation, they become our masters, and we end up serving and obeying them, rather than God. We cannot truly say we are serving God if we have a master other than God. It’s impossible to serve two masters at the same time (Matthew 6:24).

If you consider yourself a follower of Jesus and have surrendered control of your life to God, he needs to be your master. Sometimes this can be a struggle, and you may need to make a moment by moment decision to ultimately please Jesus as Lord in all areas of your life. This can include support raising for a missions trip, regardless of the opinions of others. Knowing that you are accepted and approved by God means you don’t need to fear the disapproval or rejection of others.

We Are New Creations, Commissioned for God’s Mission

In God’s marvelous grace, our shame has been removed from us. Instead, our shame has been traded in for God’s unconditional love and acceptance. If you follow Jesus, you have been  made into a new creation and have been given a new life purpose. We have now been granted the honour of representing God, as an ambassador for his Kingdom.

God has commissioned us for his mission. He has invited us to do what Jesus came to earth to do: to seek and save the lost. As we learn to live completely for the approval of Jesus, we can invite students to trust completely in Jesus as their God, and trade their shame for God’s everlasting grace. We invite students to honor Jesus as Lord by finding their approval from God instead of seeking it from others.

As new creations, we can boldly invite others to join us in prayer, financial support, and to invest in the building of his Kingdom all around the world. While we may be afraid of what others think of us as we support raise, at the end of the day, we can be assured that because of the gospel, we can live in freedom from shame.

Photo Credit: JWatt

How to Walk in Freedom From Shame in Support Raising

When thoughts of shame regarding support raising overwhelm you, try these things:

1. Recognize the deeper desire to pursue human approval

Shame can be a cover. It may reveal you are seeking your sense of worth and approval from what others think and say about you. It’s possible to throw those negative thoughts aside and walk in the true acceptance you already have from God.

2. Share with someone you trust.

Shame can be isolating, so develop a network of people you trust to journey with you. Your network could include spiritual mentors, your support raising coach, or close friends. Know that you aren’t alone and seek encouragement from praying with others. God may even use your story to encourage and comfort someone else who may be secretly struggling as well.

3. Speak promises from the Bible directly into your circumstances.

Blanket yourself with the security that is yours in Christ, and remind yourself of the honour that Jesus has granted you. For instance,

“I’m tempted to feel worthless because [my parents/culture/friends] disapprove of me raising my support for this mission trip. I’m not living up to their expectations. But God, you promise in Hebrews 13:5-6 that you will never turn your back on me or leave me. My fear of disappointing people doesn’t need to control me. You are always with me, even when my circumstances feel hard. Help me walk in freedom while inviting others to partner with this ministry because my worth is found in you.”

Saying no to the influence of shame and walking in faith to raise support takes deep courage. Know that God is walking with you in each moment.

4. Entrust your finances to God.

Watch him raise your support! Be amazed at his provision and his love for you. Then take that testimony of God’s power and share it with your family and friends. Your step of faith could result in helping someone else to enter God’s kingdom and trade their own shame for God’s everlasting grace.

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About the Author

Erin Ford

Erin Ford works on staff with P2C-Students. She lives in Guelph with her family. On weekends you can find her walking her dog, caring for her home, and working in the garden.

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