(Literally just a picture of a beautiful lake.)
(It’s a little difficult to pick a picture that conveys “giving” and isn’t manipulative or polarizing) 🙂
In this series, I’ll be looking back at key decisions we made over the past ten years regarding our finances, and thinking through how they have or haven’t worked for us.
I saw the idea of giving generously from an early age. Mom and Dad were always generous with their time, talents, and money, supporting their local church, other ministries, or just people in need. They modeled this well for us. Living with open hands, ready to help anyone, was a very attractive way to live.
I tried to continue this habit myself. Once I started making consistent money, I began giving on a percentage of my net income, and I was happy to do it. But as I started to make more, Math ensured that the amount to give kept increasing. This got a little confusing when the 401k and HSA payroll contributions that I was also increasing kept driving down my taxable income, which had the ripple effect of decreasing my giving.
Then, a friend happened to mention offhand how he committed 10% gross for his giving. That number seemed way too high to allow us what we wanted to accomplish with our finances. We wanted to buy a house! But his confidence made me think. 10% gross? I liked the simplicity of it. I liked the radical brashness of it. I was on-board with the Biblical idea that the money wasn’t mine anyway, and that I was just entrusted to manage it.
The doubts came in full force.
But, wouldn’t it make more sense to not give now, invest the extra money, and then have more money to give later?
Give that much now? In your prime earnings years? You’re crazy! You’re sacrificing years of compound interest!
But, I remind myself, I believe that the only things that will last forever are people and the kingdom of God. “Waiting until we have enough money to give and serve people” isn’t an option. If it was purely a practical decision to argue for; well, the people in need now need help now, not in twenty years. But it’s more than a practical decision. It runs deeper than that.
So we took the step. We aren’t legalistic about it. We don’t recalculate unrealized or reinvested capital gains to make sure we’re hitting our percentages. We don’t calculate giving on any gift cards that we receive. But we do try to give generously. The attitude and the heart behind the giving is what is most important. And we haven’t missed the extra cash. Really.
In Retrospect, What Was Good: Getting into a mindset of giving and a focus on other people’s needs. It has helped tremendously to get me out of the “me first!” attitude that is so easy to fall back in.
In Retrospect, What I Would Have Changed: Nothing. Giving is what it’s all about, no matter what thirty year investment projections or increased standard tax deductions say.
What’s your philosophy on giving? How has it blessed you and those around you?