When does an individual, family, or congregation decide to be generous? How does that come about? What does it take to give in a way that reflects God’s gift in Jesus? When does stewardship in our faith life change from something we have to do to the thing we love to do?
That is a hard and tangled journey. It is a road that is paved with logical and not so logical (to the world) thought. It is a path with strong theology. It is a biblically redundant theme, I expect, because it goes to the heart of our trust and the object of our faith. Stewardship and our faith cannot be separated.
Still, with all the rationale in Scripture, we find ways to avoid the stewardship tipping point. The tipping point is where we no longer wrestle with our giving. The tipping point is where we love to give and look forward to the opportunity to resource the mission of the church. The tipping point is where we live by faith and encourage others in the faith to give too.
My family stewardship tipping point came about three or four years into my ministry. We tithed our income (before taxes). It was what we determined to do. But the family budget was very tight (and the church budget was even tighter). In fact, we sold items that we owned including a piano and a microwave just to pay the bills. In a conversation with one of the leaders I was told I would not be getting a raise. It was suggested that God sometimes tells us not to give so much. That would solve our personal financial struggles. I listened and began to work that through. On my drive home I remember talking to myself and thinking, “You continue to give, as God has given to you.” That would be difficult. But I was excited by the thought. It would be a bold step. Lynn knew about my meeting and was waiting at home to hear about the result. When I walked through the front door I said, “I’ve got good news. There is no change in the dollars and we are going to continue to tithe.” Lynn said, “I agree!” That was our tipping point. Now our giving was more than the cognitive decision to tithe. Now our giving included our heart. It went from what we could reasonably do initially to what we do simply by faith. It has been such for the past thirty years.
The Lord brings each of us to tipping points in stewardship in different ways. He brings individuals, families, and congregations to places where we either step away from the call or we step into Jesus’ arms to be the very thing He created us to be even before the fall (Genesis 1:28), namely stewards. And the good news? If we have stepped away from the call, He gently calls again.
By Rev. Steve Misch
Mission and Ministry Facilitator, Area A