After another day of practicing anesthesiology and doing pastoral work, Jon and Mandy sit in their Indianapolis living room and reflect on their giving to the church. “It’s a habit,” says Mandy, who is soft-spoken but no pushover. “It’s a faith thing.”
Jon, gentle and lacking pretensions, remembers the quarters his dad gave him to place in the offering plate. More vivid is his memory of the first check his parents would write after receiving their salaries. It was a check for the church. If, at the moment, there weren’t enough funds in the bank account, the check was saved for “when it wouldn’t bounce.” This is a powerful image for both Jon and Mandy.
After Mandy began to earn money as a child, delivering newspapers, she filled out a pledge card for the church budget and gave $1.25 per week. She credits her parents and her home church for encouraging her desire to give to the “big church” budget instead of just in Sunday school, and for taking her small pledge seriously. Another vivid memory is a conversation she had with her mother when Mandy’s wealthy playmate invited her along for an overseas family vacation. “Mom explained that she and Dad had decided to work for church organizations, which meant lower salaries. She also explained that they were committed to giving money in our congregation’s offering each week. She didn’t say these things as though she were some suffering martyr; she simply stated the facts of their commitments and priorities, which didn’t always leave enough money for expensive vacations. I will always remember that conversation.”
Both Jon and Mandy, now 20-somethings, value models from childhood for helping to form their attitudes toward giving today. Jon’s models are his parents. Mandy speaks of parents, grandparents, and two great aunts who were generous in many ways. Jon and Mandy’s generosity may also have been shaped by another occurrence. Both received money from their churches as they attended college and as Mandy attended seminary. Together, they want to continue the generosity that has been shown to them.
Jon and Mandy agree on their giving commitments, and both are active in keeping the books and writing checks. Their conversation about giving seems not to be about an extraordinary discipline, but rather a natural and normal “giving back to God a part of what we have been given.” For them giving is a habit born out of early training, lifelong practice, and deeply held values.
This stewardship story is excerpted from the Companion Resource "Abundant Joy, Overflowing Generosity" based on II Corinthians 8:1-7. The Abundant Joy, Overflowing Generosity Collection of the Companion Resource, theme materials, and corresponding issue of the Giving: Growing Faithful Stewards in Your Congregation magazine provide a comprehensive assortment of materials for developing a customized stewardship program for your congregation. Learn more and order in the ESC webstore.