Sometimes I begin writing a Facebook status that begins taking on a life of its own and I realize I should delete it because people don’t want to read another rant from me. So I copy and paste what I wrote and save it as a draft for my blog instead. Today’s post combines a few such occasions with one common thread: receiving unsolicited requests for things that benefit the sender more than me. Included but not limited to joining their social media groups and liking their pages, reading and promoting their books, and/or having them as a guest on my podcast. I will tackle each of these things in turn over a few posts, but I’d love to discuss some etiquette and manners related to asking for favors. I’ve had a lot of people do favors for me and I always ingratiate myself to them and give them credit where credit is do or return the favor in some way if and when I can.
If you’re reading this and you’ve done any of the following to me, don’t assume I’m talking to you (even if I am) but this is geared more toward the rudeness some people demonstrate when contacting me.
Facebook Requests to Like Pages & Being Put in Groups Without Asking Me
I get a LOT of friend requests on Facebook these days, and I can’t tell if many people just send me a request so they can add me to their groups or invite me to like their pages and artificially build their “fan base”, or because they truly want to be connected to me on Facebook. I am constantly removing myself from groups I’ve been added to without my permission and ignoring requests to like pages I know nothing about. But what’s funny is when I turn around and send these same people an invite to like MY podcast or author page in return just to see what happens more than anything, they almost never reciprocate!
So if you do this, it comes across like it’s just about building you platform online and having numbers.
Best of luck with that strategy.
Asking Me For Money
Then there’s also those who within 24 hours of me accepting their request on Facebook start asking me for money to fund their orphanage/children’s ministry/homeless shelter/Bible translation project/etc. I’ve told the last 5 or 6 people who contacted me this way that I don’t have the kind of funds they’re asking for and certainly not for the number of solicitations I get on a regular basis, and that as a missionary myself, I too raise support. On occasions when my wife and I are blessed with an abundance of some kind, usually our giving out of that overflow is given or sent to disciples of ours here in Peru or partners in ministry we want to sow into. Rarely — I didn’t say never — do we give or feel led to give to complete strangers. When we do it’s for a cause or in obedience to a leading or prompting from the Lord, or in response to something like a crowdfunding campaign for an emergency or hard luck situation someone’s in.
But when I’m asked, I often suggest to these people that I too in my fundraising efforts don’t just ask complete strangers I don’t know, but only people I have a relationship of some kind with. It amazes me how often this offends these people and they tell me to pray or suggest they heard from God and I have not (or else God would tell me to give them money, just like they “heard” him tell them, right).
Part of being a missionary means out of necessity I’ve needed to either ask for support directly or through broader means like newsletters and emails and donation links on my website, or I get freelance gigs and clients for my business and earn some cash. Believe me, I know what it’s like to humble myself and ask for help to do what I’m called to do. But whenever I’m disappointed that someone says no to me, the thought never crosses my mind to guilt trip them (manipulate or harass them, really) or tell them they’re hearing God wrong. Nor do I refuse to take no for an answer.
It surprises me how often some people feel this is acceptable behavior in their fundraising, and as a result I wind up blocking them from messenger if they persist. There are lots of other mistakes people make, like the time I got a fund-raising email, and the writer never indicated who they were.
So before asking me for money, ask yourself if Steve knows you, and if someone approached you out of thin air, how would you respond. That should help you figure out whether to approach me this way.
In my next post, I’ll spend more time discussing another pet peeve of mine, but one that happens to me much more often: unsolicited requests to review books and be on my podcast.
Further reading from Church Magazine: