“I Surrender All”

By Dr. Scott Rodin    

Jim Bakke on the one-kingdom mindset of charitable giving

As the executive director of the Barnabas Foundation, Jim Bakke makes his vocation helping others become better stewards. The foundation partners with approximately 200 ministries to assist their supporters in making efficient, cost-effective, and kingdom-oriented charitable gifts. 

“In our ministry, we often have intimate conversations with God’s people who have resources they want to deploy for kingdom purposes. First, we all need to recognize that everything we have is God’s, and we are just stewards of God’s assets. When we’re talking with a family our goal is to help them determine what God wants them to do with His money.”

Barnabas Foundation specializes in facilitating planned gifts of significant assets such as stock or real estate and in planning for the transfer of wealth from one generation to the next through wills and trusts. Oftentimes, this kind of giving enables people to give the largest gifts of their lives while reducing their taxes and still providing for their families.

Barnabas works closely with ministries too, providing them with expertise and administrative support to receive gifts that they otherwise may not be equipped to accept.

“I was called into full-time ministry as a teenager, and I thought I was going to be a pastor. I worked with Youth for Christ leading young people to Christ, and my work was all about evangelism. Now, I find that the kingdom impact I’m having in people’s lives is as great or greater than when I was leading kids to Christ. It’s just a different part of the kingdom.”

For Jim, ministering to the financial part of the kingdom has changed the way he defines success.

“The financial results, the amount of money that comes through Barnabas for distribution to ministry or the numbers of clients we have, aren’t the ultimate measure of success. Our faithfulness is the ultimate measure. The key is every day releasing our work to the Lord and doing our best for Him. The results are up to Him.”

And indeed, Barnabas has experienced a burgeoning clientele in the last several years, including a double digit increase in gift income to be distributed to ministry work last year.

Of those who approach the foundation for guidance about charitable giving, Jim says around 95 percent are members of local churches. He’s in the unique position of not only guiding stewards, but also advising pastors on how steward their high net-worth members.

Many pastors or ministry leaders can be intimidated by the wealthy members of their congregations, treating them with skepticism or jealousy, or ignoring them altogether. Jim says that many business leaders he works with express sadness that their pastors never ask about or visit their businesses.

“I counsel pastors, don’t be intimidated by the mega-wealthy. Recognize their capacity to give, and also find ways to minister to them.

“Have you visited the businesses of your major business owners and asked them about the challenges they face, about how they make decisions about the allocation of resources or how they care for their people? Don’t approach them with your hand out, with skepticism, or with bias about their wealth, but with integrity so that you can learn how to support them.”

The healthiest pastors steward their members with a one kingdom mindset. They recognize the danger of living in two kingdoms, where we surrender the majority of our lives to God’s ownership but retain some small fiefdoms of control for ourselves–in this case, how church members allocate their charitable giving. They challenge members to develop a one kingdom mindset and to give to all kinds of ministry opportunities, inside and outside the church.

“When we live in a small or two kingdom world where we’re building our own kingdom and not God’s kingdom, thoughts of our own success dominate and comparison, jealousy, and distrust can cripple our thinking.

“Ministry leaders need to cast a vision and challenge people to invest their resources in the kingdom. Encourage this to invest in the ministry you’re leading, but maintain a clear understanding that it’s all God’s and He will prompt them where to give.. There’s more than enough money out there for your ministry vision, and good stewards want to give.”

Jim witnesses the power of surrendering ownership among those he advises and also in his own life.

“There are times when I’ve been all wrapped up in myself and full of angst because I was building my kingdom instead of God’s kingdom. I was concerned that we weren’t performing at the level we should, we didn’t have the right image, or some other two kingdom mindset.

“Some time ago, I found myself praying and singing the old hymn ‘I Surrender All.’ That song led to a daily prayer of ‘Lord, I surrender myself to you today; my fears, my vision, my desires, my sin, my hopes, my family.’”

When Jim begins his days with surrender, he discovers the peace and joy that accompany the life of stewardship.

“I don’t have to carry that anymore. When those words don’t cross my lips in the morning, it’s amazing how heavy the load can be. When they do, it’s amazing how God will lead.”

Dr. Scott Rodin    

Dr. Rodin is the Founder and Content Expert of the Center for Steward Leader Studies. He also serves as President of Kingdom Life Publishing and Rodin Consulting Inc.

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