We instinctively mask financial asks.
We've all seen it done. A pastor flinches during a sermon on giving and ends up presenting commands like they're suggestions. A Small Group Leader lets the group skip over a passage of Scripture that might make us feel uncomfortable about our consumption. A missionary hems and haws about needing "support" and "partners" when you know they need "money" and "donors" (don't get me wrong, we need support and partners too).
Why do we do this?
Well, I don't know about "we," but I avoid vulnerability when it comes to talking about money because I don't want people to abandon me. I'm afraid that if I preach on money, people will stop coming, stop inviting. I worry that people will get angry and leave. I fear that people will avoid me.
Most vulnerability-dodging in ministry flows from a fear of losing people. This is true in the arena around money, but it's also true throughout. The fear of losing people causes us to do some crazy things, causes us to do some cowardly things.
I vividly remember driving a careening golf cart around Rockbridge and talking to John Teter about fundraising (he brought it up). He said that he intensely pursued his wealthy friends to give money to God and the poor because their souls were at stake. His heart for fundraising echoed his heart for evangelism. You can't serve two masters.
Patrick Lencioni wrote recently about "telling the kind truth" in his book Getting Naked. In the business world, Lencioni sees this hesitancy to tell the kind truth as deeply connected with a fear of losing clients.
Paul wasn't afraid to lose the Romans. He wasn't afraid to ask for money, to go there with them. I think he put himself in the vulnerable position of talking about money because he thought there was something worse than having people not like him.
I really want to be like that. I want to live my life as if there are worse things than not being liked, free of the fear of "losing clients."
God has given us such a beautiful and epic commission as his people. And I think that we can't do what he's calling us to do unless we're willing to make ourselves vulnerable, to speak "the kind truth" even if people abandon us for it. After all, a servant is not greater than his master (see John 6).
We must pursue vulnerability.