I know from my own experience and coaching numerous workers that seeing relatives over the holidays can be stressful, and can be particularly stressful when raising support. Do you make an ask, or just conversation? How much detail should you go into about your assignment with that relative that isn’t a believer? What’s with all the side comments and disapproval from Aunt Merle?!
Unfortunately, I can’t give a formulated response to how to handle every conversation with your relatives. There are simply too many variables, such as the strength of the relationship, how far along you are with raising your budget, if you have had a personal conversation with them or appointment prior concerning support, etc. Making an ask during Christmas may be the best course of action, however it may also not be the time for it. How does one know? The only thing I can offer here without knowing your exact situation are a couple of quick tips:
- If you are going to make an ask during Christmas, I would consider trying to prepare your relatives prior, making sure they understand you want to set aside time to talk with them specifically about your assignment and ask if they would like to join some aspect of your team. Essentially, treat it the same as you would prior to an appointment, it’s just the appointment may be during Christmastime.
- You don’t want your extended family members to run from you every Thanksgiving and Christmas. Right? Right. Hear me say IT IS OKAY if you don’t ask every aunt and cousin on your list during your three hour Christmas event. It may be best to wait and approach them after Christmas. Think of it too – if you see them during Christmas then you’ve had some great time to simply build up relationship and be a good family member.
- If you are having trouble figuring out the best course of action on how to approach family members over Christmas about support, consider asking a seasoned worker or coach on how to best approach these important conversations. Sometimes having a sounding board, and particularly one with experience, can be extremely helpful. Don’t be afraid to get into the weeds with your coach or mentor and explain the relationship dynamics.
- When talking about support or your assignment in general, err on the side of boldness and confidence. The more confidence you have in yourself and in your ministry, the more your relatives will too.
- Not too much unlike, #4, favor honorable directness over beating around the bush when talking about support. Don’t hem and haw around the subject. Experience has shown me the more up front about it the better.
- Lastly and most important: this Christmas, strive to be a good listener.
Listening is one of the most important skills you can learn to perfect in conversation, and all it takes to do so really is a little mindfulness. When it comes to Christmas, you will undoubtably have numerous opportunities to practice! Thus, my main piece of advice is to strive to listen. Be present in the moment, and present with the person in front of you. You can try literally telling yourself (maybe not out loud though, so those relatives believe your sane) to focus on the people around you and not on yourself. Think about listening more than you speak. Believe that your aunt Merle and cousin Gary have something to teach you, because truly everyone has something to teach you!
All of that being said, below are 10 easy steps to become a better conversationalist. Try and keep these things in mind as you speak with those relatives that may challenge you this Christmas.
Be a listener that is seeking to understand, not just seeking to get a word in and reply. Your relatives will appreciate your attentiveness and chances are you will feel more inspired and fulfilled by being mindful of the people around you and really focusing on them. Treat your Christmas parties, celebrations, and interactions with relatives as an opportunity for ministry! I pray you have a Merry Christmas friends!
4 thoughts on “Christmas Asks: Yes or No?”
I would err on the side of not asking during a Christmas event. That’s because it’s important to invest in the relationship before asking. chances are, there are relatives there that you haven’t seen since the last major holiday.
One of the things my husband, Peter, and I have found over the course of our 10 years of missionary life is that trying to be super-efficient is often counterproductive. It is not the best way to build a healthy partner base.
Relationships take time, and if you invest your time in people who are important to you but can’t necessarily come on as partners, this is important to maintaining your authentic self. It’s easy to get lost in fundraising and for all your relationships to become part of your fundraising engine. But you’d be surprised by how many times those relationships you’ve invested in over the years end up resulting in new financial partnerships down the road. I can’t count the number of times that someone has come on (without our asking a second time) two, five, or even 10 years after we met with them knowing they couldn’t give at that time.
We always asked them anyway, and pointed to a very poor friend who had come on board and was only able to donate $5 a month. (“Jesus showed us that the thing that’s important isn’t the dollars and cents. It’s the heart of the giver.”) The sense of pride and value that comes into their eyes each time with this affirmation is so incredible.
Back to the Christmas gathering. It’s important to keep in mind that the way we fundraise will also be the way that we approach ministry. If we are always approaching with an ulterior motive, people will sense this. It’s far better to put the relationship first, and the ask second. This is how we show Jesus’ love to Christians and non-Christians alike. This is how we become people who have the authenticity and credibility to disciple our friends both in our target country and in our country of origin (through newsletters).
So beautifully said Valerie
Thank you for this good advice!! Wonderful!