That would put me a few thou "low" for the year, and my cushion completely depleted. In January I'll likely start going into the red, costing the organization money. I won't know for sure for another week. Maybe someone sent a $5000 check. Maybe I'll start the year ahead, as usual. I wait somewhat anxiously to see.
"Annual income, twenty pounds, annual expenditure, nineteen nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery. The blossom is blighted, the leaf is withered, the God of day goes down upon the dreary scene, and - in short, you are forever floored. As I am!" (Mr. Micawber, in Charles Dickens' David Copperfield)Well, I'm hardly headed to the poor house, like Mr. Micawber, and even if I were it would not necessarily mean "result: misery"!
And there's more than a thin silver lining in my case. I haven't been "able" to raise support for years, simply because my income has been equal to or higher than my (pretty modest) approved budget. Monthly pledges hover between 80 and 90%, but income has been greater. So when folks ask me how they can help, in good conscious I have felt I had to send them away. It would have been smart to make a list of those who asked, now that I may need them!
Maybe now I can diversify my support base, not keep leaning on the 2 churches and 20 or so families who have done so much for me these last 14 years (yes, October 2009 is my 15-year-anniversary of taking this job!) Many of them are retiring now and may not be able to keep giving at their current levels, much less increase.
I've been thinking about this recently, as I've become aware of how many people in our church in Colorado give personally to support those who are on the list of "ministry partners." All of them (us) get something from the church's budget but many of them are also well-supported by individuals and families in the church. Not me. Not a one.
So, I'm feeling a bit overlooked. Which is silly, of course, because as I mentioned before when people ask me about my needs I tell 'em to put their checkbooks away! So, I need to get my heart right about this. Make sure I don't walk around with some air of entitlement or self-pity, not compare myself to others who are paid much more for doing their jobs.
There are other benefits that are far greater than my salary - like the opportunity to do what I love, to serve so many people, and yes, to change the world because of how I spend my time. Not to mention the chance to travel the the world, influence thousands, and experience wonderful relationships with people all over the globe because of what I do. Surely I am well compensated. And honestly, the opportunity to live "on support" is one of the things I would count as compensation - the partnership of sharing in the gospel, you know? I love that.
If I do start looking for financial partners among the people I worship with every week - with little clue what their finances, attitudes toward giving, or current commitments may be - I will need to spend a lot of time in prayer. Must make sure my attitude is pure and sincere, since my speech will reflect it, and that I am diligent to see the relationships don't suffer under any strain the "ask" may make on them.