Deep down, would you love everyone to like you?

Fundraising has never been the element of non-profit life that I’ve loved most.

Back in the early days I had the misguided notion that provision for my family––and for Come&Live!––would come swiftly and magically by some big-hearted billionaire dying to gift his hard-earned funds to a naïve start-up.

Barely making ends meet and slowly learning to trust Jesus, especially on the bad days, has helped me to respect the art of fundraising more now than ever. 
One of the main reasons I’ve struggled to fully enjoy fundraising is because the potential for rejection always comes along with the privilege of personally inviting friends (or friends of friends) to prayerfully consider joining our support team. And I despise rejection––even rejection light––about as much as anyone.

Deep down, I’d love everyone to like me. God, graciously and routinely, reminds me that reward rarely comes without risk.
I just returned home from a 1,500 mile, intensive nine day fundraising trip to the New England area where I met––in person––with 33 incredible individuals (or couples) from all walks of life throughout Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

The trip came as part of what I felt God giving me peace for in connection to my 2017 Team Johnson goal of reaching 100% funding by July 4th. 
Why July 4th? 

Mostly because July 4th represents the impossible - we’ve never come anywhere close to being 100% funded with nearly half the year still ahead of us (historically we’ve hit 100% right around December 31st). And July 4th because it represents the date Jesus placed on my heart back in the spring when I was drinking more juice than ever before. 
The day before I left to embark on my Northeast trip––that would end up being about the same distance as driving one way from Los Angeles to Mexico City––I felt hugely defeated. Deflated even.

Everything in me was thinking about how I could back out. I wondered what good enough excuse I could come up with to cancel on countless meetings without harming a bunch of great friendships. Thankfully nothing strong enough came to mind and I was forced to press through. 
At the core of my heart were two problems. 
The first, as I mentioned above, was the fear of rejection. For the record, there’s rarely a fundraising meeting where I haven’t felt at least some measure of fear - not because I’m afraid of my friends or their friends, but because I desire to communicate Jesus, and the ministry He’s called us to, exceptionally well.

In other words, I over think what I speak and feel nervous about whether I’ll radiate Jesus well or come off as some desperate, broken salesman who can see through everyone but himself. 
The second, and possibly even heavier issue, was condemnation. If you’ve never fundraised, all of this might seem petty or silly (and in some ways it is because it helps you see how I wrestle with more insecurity than my ever-confident-self lets on).

I perceive the art of inviting people into the passion Jesus has placed upon me as a great gift and aim to treat it as such. That doesn’t mean I don’t struggle. 
Condemnation and conviction sound like they could be related but nothing could be farther from the truth. 

The difference between the two is that condemnation will tear you down simply to tear you down. Conviction might, and only for a season, tear you down because it knows that Jesus has a greater chance of increasing as you and I are steadily decreasing.

Condemnation will try convincing you how miserable, wretched, undeserving, and useless you are. Conviction will tell you that though you might currently feel miserable, wretched, undeserving, and useless––Jesus is present and lifting you out––even if you don’t instantly feel the power of His lifting.
Condemnation is an accuser, especially of the brethren. 
So, what does condemnation sound like the day before I leave for the longest fundraising trip of my nine-year ministry career? 
1. You're not fruitful enough in life or ministry. 
2. You don’t deserve the funding you’re trying to raise. 
3. Who nominated you as weird missionary guy anyway?
4. All missionaries are meant to live poor, barely surviving. Why do you even think for a second that you could thrive? 
Then, in one short look at how the apostle Paul opens Romans 8, the voice of condemnation is struck down, silenced, and the power of God re-centers my faith: 
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. - Romans 8:1
So, whether it’s me gearing up for a fundraising trip or you dealing with whatever stirs the enemy to cut you down most, condemnation was swallowed up and spat out by Christ.

His work on the cross was final no matter how rational accusation comes across. 

The only power condemnation now holds is a whisper––fleeting attempts to convince us Christ really didn't pay for everything. But He did and it is finished.
Jesus, forgive me for being afraid of the things hiding in the dark––like insecurity, rejection, fear of failure, condemnation and accusation. Thank You for being the Liberator of our souls. I surrender afresh to you. Holy Spirit, grow us more today into the likeness of Jesus - so the whole world will know the love of the Father toward them.