Testimonial: A Leap of Faith

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Several decades ago, when I was raising my children and growing in involvement at my church, disaster struck the parish budget. Our annual Greek festival, without which our parish could not survive, only broke even because of a weekend of torrential rains and high winds. That’s the year we started talking about making the change—the leap of faith, really—to total stewardship. Eventually we decided to go ahead and do it, no longer holding a festival and asking parishioners for stewardship to cover the operating budget.

I was a part of the fledgling stewardship committee, and the discussions we had in the Board room inevitably led to discussions at our kitchen table. When I suggested that our own family take the same leap of faith the church was taking—that is, that we work toward tithing—my spouse resisted, at first. We were people of modest means, raising a large family, how could we possibly afford to tithe?

After many rounds of this conversation, we decided to start increasing the percentage of our annual giving to the church until we reached tithing (or 10%) of our annual income. We found it was easier to give more if we gave toward our pledge every two weeks, instead of once a month or a few times a year. We hardly noticed the money going out and just learned to live within the new budget. We weren’t wealthy then, and we aren’t now; we had debts then, and we still have debts now. Some years we weren’t able to fulfill our pledge, but most years we did. What is surprising, is that tithing hasn’t really impacted our finances. We’ve never gone without what we needed, as well as many of the things we simply want.

Practicing tithing has changed the way we as a family think about giving. Once I saw a simple but helpful lesson for children about tithing. The child was asked to hold up 10 fingers to represent all of God’s gifts to us, then to put one down to represent the tithe. There were nine fingers left, and that is how much we get to keep of God’s gifts to us! Ten percent can seem like a lot or a little, depending on your perspective. Tithing has opened our spiritual eyes to how much God has given us, and we can never give enough of it back to him!

As for our parish, the move to stewardship was tremendously successful and positive. Every year, by God’s grace, we were able to meet the budget. And stewardship allowed us to spend more time ministering to people rather than preparing for the giant effort of the festival, which left our building and our people worn out. There is still work to be done to cultivate true stewardship in the community. I am inspired to think about the things we could do if we would all reach for tithing: We could turn our vision outward to draw in more people to the Church and serve those in need in our community and around the world.

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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