Singing abundance in the key of D major

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
See what God has done.
— Johnson Oatman, Jr.

Readers under the age of 50 likely aren’t familiar with the old gospel hymn “Count Your Blessings,” but it’s worth getting to know. Maybe even sing.

The more than 100-year old lyrics point to a timeless antidote for the scarcity mindset that so easily besets we humans. As the hymn writer declares in simple rhyme, the blessings we enjoy are greater and more numerous than our woes.

When we name the goods in our lives, the proverbial glass transforms from half-empty to overflowing – a phenomenon that extends to faith-based nonprofits as surely as to individual Christians. I don’t deny that there are days when blessings feel in short supply — when scarcity threatens to overwhelm. But we need not be discouraged.

Here’s why. “God is over all” and with all, including those “burdened with a load of care.”

The reminder of God’s amazing abundance and presence has a particular urgency for the folks charged with raising money for ministry organizations. As Thom Jeavons and I wrote in Growing Givers’ Hearts: Treating Fundraising as Ministry:

The way in which Christian ministries go about raising money can help put an end to the destructive attitude of scarcity. Jesus taught about a God who wishes for humans ‘to have life and have it more abundantly’ (John 10:10) . . . Unfortunately, leadership in too many organizations design their fundraising efforts with a narrow focus just on meeting current needs [today’s “billows” and “tempest toss”] and ignore the larger vision of development as a means of advancing God’s kingdom.

In counting organizational blessings and singing them out for all to hear, we invite friends and longtime supporters to join in the chorus of praise for God’s continuing blessing, including through their generosity, prayers, and advocacy. Within the past week, I heard from a ministry doing just that.

COUNTING TO 28

Most organizations manage to make the most of a major anniversary — you know, the years ending in 5 or 0. The leadership team at Brethren Housing Association (BHA), a Harrisburg, PA-based ministry serving women and children who’ve experienced homelessness is doing the usual, one better. They’ve decided to make a big deal of BHA’s 28th birthday and have sited the celebration in the month of February. (28 years: 28 days. Get it?)

They’re ready to roll with a list of 28 examples of God’s blessing on and through BHA since its founding, with plans to release one a day for the month via their Facebook page and on the organization’s website. “It was tough to choose just 28 items,” the director of development told me. “Once we got going, the list grew and grew.”

The anniversary celebration also comes with a challenge and that is to “have 28 people (or more) commit to a recurring monthly gift of $28.” For organizations focused on 5 and 6 figure gifts, $28 may seem a puny “blessing.” To BHA, however, an extra $784 (or more) a month is significant.

As the email announcing the February celebration assures, “every dollar makes a difference and helps to provide a family with a place to call home and the tools and support systems to change their life.” In other words, donors stepping up to the $28-a-month challenge should prepare to be surprised by the what the Lord will do as a result of their generosity.

STAY CALM AND COUNT

The hymn writer doesn’t promise that we can sing or count away the bad. Conflicts and difficulties, whether great or small, are real. Such is life.

But “do not be discouraged,” the gospel hymn encourages. “Angels will attend, help and comfort give to your journey’s end.”

So stay calm. Count your blessings. Name them one by one.

Then sing them out with gusto, preferably in the key of D major.

For more on counting blessings and celebrating God’s abundance, see:

Pass the abundance please

Cadence, the 20 Mile March, and God’s abundance

Beware “iceberg beliefs” that can sink your organization

 

 

Comments

  1. What a great reminder! Thank you, Rebekah, for helping me step back and take a broader look at how God has blessed.

    • Thank you, Dan, for your thumbs up to today’s article here at Generous Matters. Congratulations again on your personal blessing at the beginning of 2017 — a completed dissertation and the title of “Dr.”

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