I know what you may be thinking… Oh great, another voice on money, giving, and stewardship. Well, this is going to be a little different than you may think. I am here to tell you how God changed me, a minister, on my view of stewardship and how He has been rocking my world ever since.
I feel like I should start by saying I am not a “Name it, claim it” kind of guy. I hate the prosperity “gospel” and I do not think that God wants us all to be rich. But I also don’t think money is the root of all evil. After all, the scripture says the love of money is the root of all evil.
You see, I was raised in the church since I was eight years old. I had heard every sermon and talk about giving and stewardship that you could think of. I knew what God wanted me to do with my resources but I was quick to make excuses and give reasons why it didn’t really apply to me.
EXCUSES NOT TO TITHE AT ALL
I have served in many capacities for the church over the last 18 years; from Ministry Associate, Church Secretary, Youth Pastor, College Adults Pastor, and Teaching and Preaching Pastor, to Church Planter. Like nearly every pastor I know, I was over worked and underpaid. I was constantly “working for free”.
I used this as a crutch and an excuse not to give generously. I was justifying my lack of obedience by saying “I tithe my time” and “I have so little resources as is, that I am not able to tithe and still be able to make ends meet.”
EXCUSES NOT TO TITHE GENEROUSLY
Although I still hold firm that there were times when I didn’t want my tithe to be on record, (meaning I didn’t put my name on an envelope full of money before putting it in the offering plate) at times, I used this to tithe only a little and not what God had truly put on my heart. I used scriptures like “don’t let your left hand see what your right hand is doing” and “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” which is also ironic because I was only using 1/2 of the verse to justify my actions.
HOW GOD CHANGED MY HEART
All those excuses were thrown out the window one night while I was doing a security patrol for the battered woman’s shelter I supplement some of my income for as a church planter. I was driving through the neighborhood listening to a sermon by Steven Furtick from Elevation Church. The series was called Beyond and the opening sermon was entitled The Capacity Challenge. The sermon rocked my world, turned my life upside down and then opened my eyes to the stubbornness in my heart. The main passage he used was 2 Corinthians 8:1-7. I would highly recommend you give it a listen if you haven’t already!
God used this sermon to open my eyes to my own foolishness. Steven Furtick tells a story of getting a trainer and for his initial consultation he went in with some “preconditions”. He told his trainer he wouldn’t do legs or cardio. And then he said he was willing to try to do chin-ups but he just couldn’t. Over time, with the help of his trainer he has gotten to a point now where he can do 22 chin-ups. He then goes on to say “The only reason I told you that… is because when I came to him, I told him my capacity. What I can’t do. But what he knew as a trainer is what you need to figure out as a Christian. It wasn’t my capacity that rendered me to only be able to do one chin-up. It was my conditioning. And here’s what I want to know: what is it that you convinced yourself that you cant do that really you won’t do?”
Man, that statement sure rocked my world! I was putting preconditions on God. I wasn’t living a life of faith. I was showing up to listen to the Word of God but I was already setting the limitation on what part of it I would believe.
That night at 11:55pm I called my friend, confidant, business partner, and boss, Josh Brown and asked him to help challenge me and hold me accountable for my financial faith and stewardship actions.
MY LIFE SINCE THAT NIGHT
My wife and I decided instead of doing New Years Resolutions we would do a family word for the year. We decided in 2017 our word would be Beyond (taken from the sermon series) and would try to live our lives beyond our preconditions. We wanted to give beyond our means. We wanted to love beyond the ways we have in the past. So we decided that we would tithe faithfully on every dollar we made at our jobs. We also didn’t want to limit our capacity there though. We also decided that we want to give every month to a special project we come across; on top of our tithe.
I am not telling you this to pat myself on the back. I still have a long way to go. But my prayer is that my testimony will help you live a life God called you to live.
Since I have stopped putting preconditions on God and started living a life of financial faith, I can honestly say that I have more money in my bank account than I ever have on a regular basis. My wife and I have both received promotions and raises. We were in limbo on adopting our girls (the judge was taking forever to make his decision) and the next day we got word he chose us to adopt them. We were able to buy our first house. We have received clients that we never expected. The blessings go on and on.
Now like I said, I am not a prosperity “gospel” guy but I have no doubt that God was wanting to open up the floodgates in my life if I would be willing to be faithful to Him in all things. He wanted to show me what He can do if I would stop putting limitations on Him.
So I will leave you with our family scripture for the year that goes with our word for the year:
“Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us — to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” -Ephesians 3:20-21