Thoughts in the Faith

Why We Tithe 10%

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  — 2 Corinthians 9:7

In my career, I live and breath philanthropy. I have been the recipient of immense generosity in the past, and I work daily to connect donors to the causes they care most about.

Philanthropy: the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money to good causes. 

TRUE philanthropy is cheerful and generous, and it is not something that comes naturally to everyone.

As Christians, my husband and I each feel that it is important to give our time, talents, and treasures wherever possible. But we are also human, and the reality is that we don’t always make the time or effort to pour into others. We can be pretty selfish, getting hung up on our own situations, and disregarding others’ needs. So when we first combined our incomes, we made it a point to put tithing in our budget. At the LEAST, we would give every month.

The “10% rule” comes up early in the Bible, starting in Genesis when Jacob vows:

If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house,and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.  — Genesis 28:20-22

The New Testament references giving MANY many times. It’s pretty clear that it is an expectation of us, not a request.

Look, I know the Bible tells us to do (and not do) a LOT of things, many of which I (and probably most of you) fail at on a daily basis. And there are plenty of months where one of us (usually always me) tries to justify why it just doesn’t make sense to give away that much when we have THIS and THAT and ALL OF THESE THINGS happening in our life. But if we go down that road, there is almost never a GOOD time to just give money away. Instead, we choose to joyfully give to the organizations that we care about and that are doing God’s work in their communities. We do occasionally use a part of our tithing budget to give to non-Christian causes that we care about, but generally speaking, tithing was asked of us in order to give back to God’s work. And honestly, we have reaped so many blessing from God these last several years, I have to believe it is in part, at least, due to our constant and (mostly) cheerful tithing.

PHEW that was a mouthful. I’m wide open for any thoughts or questions you might have. How do you give or tithe, and how do you decide when/ how much?

Daily Notes, Life As I Know It

Barefoot Republic Camp

I grew up in a bubble. A white, Midwestern, Christian, middle-class bubble. I had an amazing childhood, and am making (from what I can tell) many good choices for my life.

But when I went to college, I realized the enormousness of this bubble. Nothing wrong with the bubble…it’s just…who wants to be unaware of the world around them? This awakening, so to speak, led me to spend two of my college summers working (and living) at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission. I learned about diversity, culture, love, poverty, joy, and strengthened my faith. The days were long, but oh how those summers flew by.

As I mentioned yesterday, and as some of you may already know, I have a friend (hey, Candace!) who works full time for Barefoot Republic Camp. Barefoot is a Christ-centered multicultural camp — as far as they know, the only camp in the country that combines these qualities. Kids from varying ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds come together in one place. And something very special happens at Barefoot. A kid with a three-piece monogram luggage set and a kid with a trash bag learn that they have commonalities. The campers learn and play in one-week sessions, as they take classes in performing and visiual arts and sports, and they spend time together, forming friendships and learning about Christ.

Barefoot offers full scholarships to kids who cannot afford to attend. A scholarship for one week costs $350. Several other runners and myself have each committed to raising $1000 for Barefoot scholarships as we train for the Music City Marathon (well, half marathon) in Nashville on April 30. As of the moment I’m writing this, I’m at $941 $991…so close! Truly, I’d love to aim higher than this mark — so many of my friends, family, and well, you guys, have the capacity to toss in $10 towards an opportunity that a lot of kids cannot afford. If you’d like to give, please visit Run Barefoot, and designate your gift to runner #11. I can’t tell you what it would mean to me!

I’ve seen how popping a bubble can make a big (and I mean HUGE) difference in someone’s life — I feel that our generation is one in particular that understands the importance of loving others through intentional relationships. Here’s to popping bubbles before the college years.

Daily Notes, Life As I Know It

Philanthropy

philanthropy: the love of humanity.

I’ve spent nearly seven years learning and understanding the word “philanthropy.” For four years of undergrad, I benefited from generosity of someone who gave out of love. Now, I work to provide opportunities for others to give to the university out of love, as well. Recently I’ve been fundraising for Barefoot Republic as I train for the half marathon (I’m almost at my goal — feel free to give by visiting www.runbarefootnow.com and designate it for runner #11!! More on this another day). I’ve asked every friend I can think of to give towards this cause, and I’ve noticed a few interesting patterns.

I’m young. My friends are young. We’re paying student loans, and rent, and bills, and not making much money yet. We have a million excuses. But philanthropy is not about a dollar amount. When your university asks for a gift, you can give $10 towards scholarships or your student org or something else that meant something. When I ask for money for Barefoot Republic, I’ve had friends give $100 and I’ve had friends give $5, and I am humbly grateful for every single gift.

Philanthropy is not about a dollar amount. It’s about a habit of giving. Yesterday, I listened to a sermon about giving. We’ve all heard “it is better to give than to receive.” As he so simply put it yesterday — would you rather be in a position to give or in a position of needing to receive? I would much prefer to be in a position of giving. And I am so grateful that I am able to give $10 here, and $10 there. How blessed I am to have that opportunity.

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

–2 Corinthians 9:7

The first time you give, it’s hard. It hurts a little. You think about how many meals you could have bought with that. Or you think about how much it would multiply if you stuck it in your savings or 401K. Yet as you continue to give over time, it becomes a habit, a comfort — a blessing.

Yes, we are young. We are “poor” (but are we though? really??). But all of us will advocate for causes throughout our lives. I’ve seen that the world of philanthropy is a lot of “I’ll support your cause, you’ll support mine,” and I think that is so special — that we can recognize what a cause means to our friend, and empathize, and pitch in.

All this to say, philanthropy is so much more than being guilted into giving to this or that. It’s about loving in a small way, where you can. It’s a field I’m honored to be a part of.

Life As I Know It, Thoughts in the Faith

How DO we handle the homeless?

Every time I see a homeless person walking down the street, or standing on a corner, or sleeping in a doorway, I experience the same emotions–guilt, sympathy, nervousness, awkwardness–and I ask myself the same question “How am I supposed to handle this?”.  I know there isn’t a single correct answer, but it’s something I struggle with almost on a daily basis.  And every time I consider the same pros and cons:

1.  They are people too.

I had a friend who lived as a homeless person over spring break.  One of the things she said to me when she got back was, “It’s amazing how many people just pretend you don’t exist.”  And it’s true–how many times do we see someone walking toward us, and we instantly divert our attention as though we don’t see them.  Do they deserve this?  Do we have the right to treat them sub-human?  I don’t think so.

2. They could be dangerous.

I love this one because ANYONE could be dangerous.  Don’t we watch enough CSI and Law and Order to know that it’s usually the well-dressed folks with leather brief cases who are the most dangerous?  Our fear of homeless people stems from our stereotypes–we think everyone’s homeless because they’re drug addicts, so therefore they are probably on something and crazy.  This is so untrue.

3.  God loves them.

I know this is SO cheesy and silly, but what right do we have to judge other people at all?  Really, we were all created with love for a purpose, and even though we don’t know someone’s story, they still have a life that is valuable.  So we don’t get to decide what they’re worth–God does.

4. We don’t know their story.

Yes, some people are probably homeless because they’re lazy and don’t try to get work.  But others can’t get work because they’re homeless, and they are homeless due to circumstances beyond their control.  I’ve met a lot of homeless men and women within the safe walls of a rescue mission, and the majority of their stories are based on situations that simply snowballed out of their control.

So what am I “supposed” to do when someone asks me for money?  People get mad and say, “well, he’s just going to buy drugs or liquor with the money I give him” and that may be true.  But once you give it, it’s not yours to decide what he does with it.  So you give it with a hope –with a faith–that maybe it will help them get through their day.  And maybe your kindness will help them even more.  This doesn’t make it less uncomfortable or awkward (I am admittedly SO awkward in these situations) but I do know that “loving your neighbor” doesn’t just mean your friends–it means everybody, no matter how difficult it may be to accomplish.