Financial Giving: Stop Doing These 3 Things
- Friday, November 02, 2012
We’ve all heard the reasons people hold back in financial giving. You may have even heard or taught sermons about them: fear, greed, biblical ignorance, poor money habits, etc.
In my years of interacting with givers, I have observed some subtle and more practical reasons people are held back from acceptable giving.
Whether you’re new in the giving journey or a teacher or pastor encouraging other givers, here are three things you can stop doing to help embrace more freedom and growth in giving.
#1. Stop Looking for that Magic Moment
Often Christians want an “experience” to accompany their giving… a peaceful easy feeling that tickles their hearts when they drop the check in the plate.
When people write a check, or click “Pay Now”, for their mortgage or rent, they're not looking for a magic moment. Still, they enjoy their homes - working in the yard, sitting on the patio, or watching their big-screen.
In the same way, no one is looking for a spiritual buzz when they pay their Mastercard or Visa. Still, they enjoy the vacations, the dining experiences and stuff they purchased.
Sure, knowing that our gifts can please God should bring peace to our hearts…and our giving. But if we have the wrong expectation that a warm fuzzy should be there, we’ll get confused or even discouraged when it’s not.
Giving is a lifestyle…not a moment
If your giving choices influence your lifestyle in a meaningful way, you will experience worship through giving all the time. But if your lifestyle influences your giving instead (by giving leftovers or amounts that don’t really matter to you), your giving won’t be fulfilling. Often this leads to giving less or even not giving at all.
Years ago my wife and I decided to drive our cars for as long as it was cost effective to do so. Without continuous car payments, we could direct more of our disposable income towards a giving lifestyle.
When my power windows stopped working and my air conditioning did too, it seemed ridiculous to be driving the car during certain summer months. After all, we had the means to get it fixed – or even buy a new car.
But we also knew our lifestyle choice was enabling us to support our church, missions and the needy in greater ways. We felt worship through giving all the time, not just during the Sunday offering.
The issue is not merely about sacrificing lifestyles. There is nothing wrong with new cars. I drive a much nicer car now. The issue is that a giving lifestyle helps to engage your heart outside of Sunday worship. And when your gifts involve meaningful trade-offs, they will please God too.
So when it comes to writing a check, paying online or dropping the envelope in the plate, stop looking for that magic moment… or that peaceful easy feeling. Leave that to The Eagles.
#2. Don’t Obsess about the Methods
If you grew up giving weekly into the offering plate on Sunday mornings and that venue is meaningful to you, then continue this practice. If instead you prefer the discipline of automating your gifts online, then do that. If monthly or quarterly giving is more practical for your planning and cash flow cycles, then trust the freedom to give accordingly.
Again, the idea is that your gifts cost you in a meaningful way. The overall measure of your gifts matters more than the method or the frequency.
Systematic or Sporadic?
A friend of mine began giving systematically for 12 months straight. Previously, he had always given sporadically in line with his the unique patterns of his business. When he asked for my thoughts on systematic versus variable giving, my response was this: give in whatever way allows you to give the most!
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