Testimonial: How Much Should We Give?

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As a newlywed, becoming a steward of an Orthodox church for the first time in my adult life, I first asked the question: “How much should we give?” When I put the question to the church office administrator, she knew from experience that what I really meant was, “What do most people give?” Giving at my new parish was on a stewardship model, so there was no minimum or membership fee. I wanted to know what the right amount was for the privilege of attending services and having the priest available for our needs, something like a membership fee to other organizations in our life. But, to be honest, I also didn’t want to give “too much.” 

That was the beginning of my life as a steward. Throughout the decades since then, my spouse and I have continued to ask the question year after year: How much should we give? The answer has evolved, as we have become more involved in our church and have learned more about our parish’s financial needs. How we give has also changed as our faith has grown. Over time, we became aware that how we handle our finances is an integral part of our spiritual life.

At some point, we decided to start increasing our giving by a percentage each year, with a goal of eventually tithing (which we understood to be giving 10% of our income in parish stewardship). One year stands out in my mind because we had the “How much should we give?” conversation when the primary breadwinner was unemployed. At first, we decided to lower our giving a bit and increase our pledge once a new job was found. However, after some consideration, that didn’t sit right with either of us. Our stewardship is always an act of faith, of trust that God will meet our needs in the coming year. We decided to pledge as we would have if we had been employed. A job soon followed.

By God’s grace, we have arrived at the point where we commit 10% of our gross income to stewardship (including bonuses). Almsgiving and other contributions to church and additional charitable causes are given above and beyond our tithe to our home parish. In our financial planning, we have included plans to continue tithing after retirement, as well. Now, when the time for the new stewardship pledge comes around each year, the decision is very easy. In fact, the answer to “How much should we give?” has taken on a whole new dimension. The answer is not based on how much fellow parishioners give or tied to the church budget. Our gift is very personal, intentional, and proportionate to God’s gifts to our family. Ultimately, through giving back, we are trying to show gratitude to God for those many gifts.

How much should we give? The widow with her two mites gave “all of the living that she had” (Luke 21:4).  Icon written by the hand of Vladimir Krassovsky, used with permission.

We are grateful to our readers who have offered to share their giving story with us, so that their testimony may inspire others. We invite you to share your story, as well! Email us at info@everygoodandperfectgift.org or visit Share Your Story.

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