Why? Because there’s a fundamental connection between our spiritual lives and how Christians think about and handle money. God says our faith and our finances are inseparable (Matt. 6:25, 33).
As a couple, we (Bob and Leslie) have spent years talking to each other about what God’s Word says about giving, thoughts and practices observed in others, and what we’ve learned through trial and error.
We’ve had great conversations and some that weren’t so great. We’ve learned a few things, and we hope and pray that our thoughts are motivating and encouraging to you.
In our home, we start with five premises:
Deciding on these five premises has made it a lot easier for us to give and to agree on our giving. That doesn’t mean we’re always totally in sync with each other on the giving process or the end result. In fact, over the years, it’s been a source of disagreements and, indeed, arguments.
For example, Leslie would prefer to give to a short list of organizations and causes. Bob, on the other hand, has hardly ever met a cause he didn’t want to give toward. Leslie prefers to give to one-time projects; Bob prefers to be a source of annual giving for organizations. Over time, each of us has learned to compromise and to respect each other’s point of view.
While not a strict formula, in our home, we each initiate about 20 percent of our giving individually, and we jointly decide on the remaining 60 percent.
Like many of you, we give to a wide variety of ministries. At least 90 percent of our giving is to faith-based organizations. We seek a balance between evangelism and discipleship, between feeding the poor in spirit and the poor physically, all in the name of Christ. We try to have geographic breadth in our giving, although the vast majority goes to the U.S. and the Middle East.
Our giving can be put in a pyramid—a few (three to five) large gifts to organizations where we’re deeply involved (perhaps serving on their boards), where we know the ministry well, know and trust the leadership, and believe it to be an effective and efficient ministry. Next are those causes where we’re less involved but still know and trust the work, and so on, with the last tier being a list of ministries or individuals where our support is smallest.
In our deliberations and decision making, we recommend the following process:
The parable of the talents reminds us God isn’t interested in how brilliant we are (Matt. 25:14–30). Rather, he wants to know how faithful we are.
To that end, we attempt to view giving through the lens of three truths: (1) time is short, (2) the need is great, and (3) the cost is high. Bob has spent his career in the investment management business and has seen significant returns on investments. But we know those returns pale when we think of having a small role in enabling someone, some family, some community to find Jesus or deepen their walk with him.
May God, the Holy Spirit, challenge you to do “above and beyond,” as he constantly does for us! Why? For the honor and glory of his great name, for our good, and for the good of perhaps countless others, many of whom we may not meet until heaven.
Image used with permission