For missionaries, those that know and love them, and local churches, the issue of financial support presents some of the trickiest water that needs to be navigated in order to accomplish God’s global purposes.
In order to help everyone involved view missionary support through what I believe is a biblically-based, relationship-oriented lens, I use the term Tethers of Connection.
For example, when two people meet for the first time, the potential for a meaningful relationship to develop will many times hinge on the possible connection points that each of them possess. These connection points are life-ingredients like family history, educational background, vocational experiences, knowledge, interests, goals, and even destinies.
As they make themselves known to one another, they discover that they have some of these life-ingredients in common. These shared connection points are the launch-pads and anchors from which Tethers of Connection can spring and bind the two of them together in mutually satisfying ways.
The more Tethers of Connection that exist between two people, the deeper, the more meaningful, and the more satisfying the relationship will be for both of them.
Viewed through a Tethers of Connection lens, the relationship transition that takes place on the wedding day of a man and woman who have honored God and one another during their engagement, provides a fairly easy to understand example of the link between Tethers of Connection and what I call Participation Consummation.
During their engagement, a man and woman who have honored God and one another have at least the following Tethers of Connection as part of their relationship:
An INTELLECTUAL tether.
Their thinking and reasoning abilities have been involved and they have concluded that they are a good match for one another both right now and for the rest of their lives.
An EMOTIONAL tether.
Their emotions and feelings have also been engaged. Being in one another’s presence provokes joy, warmth, security, and so forth. Being absent from one another provokes sadness, loneliness, longing, and various efforts to stay connected in whatever way possible.
A VOLITIONAL tether.
They both chose to continue to move forward with their relationship from its beginning and they have continued to choose to deepen it in spite of the challenges that could have disconnected them.
Eventually, they freely chose to commit themselves to enter in to the deepest bond possible between two people–marriage.
On their wedding day they will say “I do” as part of the ceremony. By declaring that publicly, they are informing everyone present that they willfully choose to be committed to only one another at the deepest level possible for the rest of their lives.
A SPIRITUAL tether.
They both love Jesus and each of them desire the same ultimate goal–reflecting His glory through their love for Him and one another.
They both have experienced being born-again by God’s Spirit, and they both have the same eternal destiny.
They both agreed that they would follow God’s design for their relationship prior to their marriage; His design for the husband and wife relationship they will have after marriage; and His design for the parent-child relationship if He blesses them with the gift of children.
Beginning on their wedding day, a multitude of other Tethers of Connection will be added to those that already composed their relationship. They will experience a consummation of their participation in one another’s lives that bonds them together so tightly that what has taken place can best be described as the two of them becoming one flesh.
God has designed the Participation Consummation that takes place between a husband and wife to be at a level that is totally unique. Their Tethers of Connection are deeper, more numerous, and more utilized than those that compose other relationships.
And yet, God has also designed other relationships with the capacity to generate something similar to the Participation Consummation that is uniquely found in marriage.
When financial giving for God’s glory among the nations is added to the Tethers of Connection that already exist in a relationship between believers, a type of Participation Consummation that glorifies God and is mutually satisfying to both the sender/giver and the goer/receiver also takes place.