MissionSpeak: October 2016: Since God possesses all the resources of the universe, why do so many of His laborers work with so little?

October 2016: Since God possesses all the resources of the universe, why do so many of His laborers work with so little?

Stephen Gibson Stephen Gibson

     The struggle to raise ministry funds enriches three kinds of relationships.

     The relationship between missionary and supporters is based on shared eternal values, sacrifice of time and effort, and a vision of ministry.  They pray, worry, and rejoice together.

     The relationship between the missionary and his converts is made special by the sacrifice.  The missionary pursues resources, prays earnestly, forms partnerships, questions and confirms his vision, and revises his methods, all the while envisioning the converts that might be reached.  Imagine what those converts mean to him!

     We are partners, servants, and children of God.  We stay close enough to be certain about His will.  We share His passion and follow His direction.  We take for granted blessings such as air, water, and sunshine, but not ministry support.  Easy, automatic providence would not help, but would impoverish, our relationship with God.

Steven Hight Steven Hight

     God “owns the cattle on a thousand hills, the wealth in every mine;” and, as Uncle Bud Robinson said, “all the taters under the hills.”  However, He has placed much of this wealth in the hands of His people, whom He calls to be faithful stewards.  If God’s wealth is not getting into the hands of His workers in the harvest fields, who is responsible for the lack?

     In Haggai 1:4 God found fault with His people because they spent their money on “ceiled houses” (comfortable, perhaps even lavish, homes) and neglected the rebuilding of the temple. One British missionary returned home and, in services that he held, noted the fine clothing and homes of the people. He estimated in his journal how many mission churches could be built with the money that purchased such finery.

     Are we more concerned for our comfort than for the salvation of the lost?

Eric Himelick Eric Himelick

     The resources for missions primarily come from people obeying God’s prompting to give. While some might say that the problem is that people are not listening to God, is the only issue that “people just need to give more?” I believe that whatever God calls into being, He sustains. “God’s work, done God’s way, will never lack God’s supply,” Hudson Taylor said. If there is an apparent lack of resources, then perhaps we need to examine the rest of the equation. Are we truly doing the work that God has called us to do? Are we doing it in the way that He would have us to do it? It may also be that God is leading us to radically identify with the poor to whom He has called us to serve. Our standard of what is “needed” may need adjusting. Wherever the problem lies, it is surely not with God.

Steven Mowery Steven Mowery

     We need a symposium on this and related topics!   The “use of resources” is a topic we need to properly look at in an open, transparent manner asking tough questions.   Why do so many of His laborers work with so little?  1)  Limited Vision:  Too often we do not embrace an enlarged, dynamic vision.   Thus, we have not because we ask not.   2) Dedication to the Cause:  Most workers are so dedicated that they are willing to try to do a lot with limited resources.  “Little is much when God is in it,” is the theme many workers embrace.  3) Tied in very closely with #2 is that God gives according to a person’s ability.  God has endowed His workers with creativity.   One way of glorifying Himself through His workers is when we use creativity . . . again, to do MUCH with LITTLE.   To GOD be the glory!

Marc Sankey Marc Sankey
  1. Because God desires His co-laborers to trust Him for daily bread. If we were to suddenly possess all of His resources, we would no longer be dependent on Him. In God's Kingdom faith is more fundamental than financial blessing.
  2. Because many church members in North America have fallen prey to materialism. The desire for more conveniences and comforts has gobbled up the missionary budget in many local churches.
  3. Because some laborers have unfortunately wasted God's resources on unwise projects, causing viable Kingdom causes to languish. For example, money that could have been invested in planting the church where it does not yet exist has instead been siphoned off to maintain decades-old mission fields.
  4. Because many believers, whom God has chosen as dispensers of His wealth, have not been adequately convinced of the profound needs of and the eternal return on their investment for the Kingdom.
Randall McElwain Randall McElwain

Is it possible that:

1) We “have not, because we ask not”?

Sometimes we try to accomplish God’s work in our own strength instead of asking God to provide. He has the resources, but we fail to ask His provision.

2) We are not in tune with God’s purposes?

Hudson Taylor said, “God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.” If God is not providing for a work, perhaps we should ask, “Is this what God wants us to do? Is this the way He wants us to do it?”

3) God’s people are not responding to God’s call?

God works through people. The resources are His, but He has given us stewardship. He “owns the cattle on a thousand hills” – but He doesn’t butcher the cow Himself; He uses us! If God is not providing, perhaps He is waiting on His people to respond to the need.

Randall McElwain Randall McElwain


We regret that, because of increasing demands in his pastoral ministry, Dr. David Fry has decided to withdraw from the panel of writers for our MissionSpeak page. Thank you, Dr. Fry, for your insightful writing and challenging perspectives!

Dr. Randall McElwain has graciously accepted our invitation to contribute to MissionSpeak. Having read this page regularly with interest, he will now add his own viewpoints to our monthly questions.

Randall is a teacher (Bible and music at Hobe Sound Bible College), writer (Shepherds Global Classroom study courses, Herald and Banner Sunday School lessons, contributor to Wesley and Methodist Studies Journal, God’s Revivalist, and others), and accomplished musician. He has twenty-five years of experience as a pastor and teacher, including service in Taiwan and teaching courses in at least seven countries.

Married with two grown children, Randall travels almost every summer to offer classes in cross-cultural settings.

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