Diptoe

How to Tithe Less and Give More

Posted in Personal Thoughts by diptoe on April 14, 2011
Punching the tithe clock

Punching the tithe clock

Are you frustrated with tithing? Do you “short” your tithe (give less than 10%), occasionally forget to tithe or just skip tithing altogether? I used to do some of the same things before I discovered the secret of how to tithe less and give more.

Like you probably do, I used to put my tithe in the offering box every Sunday, or at least most Sundays. I’d slide my envelope through the slot as if I were punching the clock, Sunday in, Sunday out. Some people pay $8.00 to go to the movies; I paid 10% of my week’s income to go to church (which ironically, is in a movie theater).

There were a few problems with this way of giving, however.

 

Never enough

First, it always felt like I never had enough to give. Someone in the church would need a little extra for groceries one week. Or a charity I dearly wanted to support would come asking for donations. I always had to turn them away empty handed. I’d already given away my tithe money, and the rest of my funds were already budgeted out.

Plus, I felt a little burned by other churches in the past that had taken my tithe and used it to grow a bigger and “better” church, while putting the unmet financial needs of the people in their congregation second. They asked for money for programs and mission trips, while the people who sat next to them went hungry and their bills went unpaid.

 

Giving out of obligation

Don’t get me wrong. Mission trips and programs can be great, and not every church is like the ones mentioned above. I felt (and still feel) that tithing to the church is important, and I should know. My father was a pastor when I was growing up, and sometimes the money in that offering box was the only reason we could afford groceries that week.

So I gave to the church, but I gave out of obligation. I didn’t do a very good, consistent job of it either. It was hard to be serious about tithing when it felt like the money was going down a black hole (literally) while all around me I saw people with unmet financial needs.

 

No more tithing = more giving?

Finally, I just stopped tithing. I tamped away the guilty feelings and let the money build up in a special tithing account. And then something awesome began to happen. Someone needed help. I had the money to help them. Someone else needed help. Again, the money was there. A charitable cause I wanted to support was having a fundraiser. And again, I had money to donate.

Suddenly, I felt free. I was giving, and more than that, I wanted to give. My frustrated attitude became a giving attitude. I was tithing less (actually, not tithing at all) and I was giving more.

 

Here’s how you can do the same:

1. Stop giving away your money out of obligation. Really. If you’re tithing because you feel obligated to, then you’re not really tithing.

2. Instead, open a bank account and deposit your tithe into that. I recommend using a free checking account. This way you can write checks and get receipts in case you want to deduct your contributions at tax time.

3. Here’s the hard part: DO NOT TOUCH IT. You will be tempted to spend it on yourself, especially during hard times. Remember, it’s not your money. You’ve already given it away. You just don’t know to whom yet.

4. Wait, watch and listen. The opportunity to give will come.

5. Give wisely and discretely. Use your money where it can have the greatest effect, and do so discretely. This isn’t about being seen as Mr. or Ms. Benevolent Moneybags (see The Fine Print below). You will not believe how good you’ll feel after being able to help someone without them knowing.

 

Finally, if you’re having trouble giving enough, consider asking others to join you in giving. There’s nothing wrong with that. Or if you want to give but cannot give financially, consider giving of your time, talents or other things. The Bible doesn’t say that a tithe has to be money. I hope this post has helped you. If you have advice or thoughts about tithing and giving, please feel free to comment below.

 

The Fine Print:

It has taken me a long time to write this post, because (1) I don’t want people thinking that I’m some sort of big Mr. Benevolent Moneybags-philanthropist-hero-guy [I’m not], and (2) because I didn’t want people to come begging to me thinking that I have a ton of money sitting in an account somewhere. I don’t. The amount of money that I give remains the same miniscule amount as before. What has changed is my attitude about giving it.

Speaking of attitude, I’m still working on some of that. I know I’m supposed to be a generous giver and all, but please don’t ask me for money. You’ll likely not get any. See my previous post about begging. Ideally, if you receive help from me you’ll never know about it.

Also, if you or your pastor has a problem with this post, tough luck. Please don’t stop giving to your church if you feel like you’re not supposed to do that; but also please don’t try to convince me that your way is the only way.

Begging for Change

Posted in Personal Thoughts by diptoe on April 14, 2011
If you have done it unto the least of these...

If you have done it unto the least of these...

Beggar: “Excuse me.”
Me: “Yes, is there a problem?”
Beggar: “No.”
Me: “Alright then, have a good night.”

Mouth agape and speechless, the beggar watched as I walked away. Had he said yes to there being a problem, I would have offered to call the cops for him. Another night in South Bend, and yet another beggar turned down.

 

Begging for change

Being accosted by beggars seems to happen to me quite often in South Bend. There was the guy that claimed he just needed money for a bus ride across town. And the lady that claimed her car was out of gas in the alley, and would I please come help a couple of other young men take care of the situation. Let’s see: dark alley, unseen car, two young men waiting there for me. HELL. NO.

Or the guy that claimed he needed lunch, but refused to go to the homeless center, which was serving lunch just a few blocks away. Or the other guy that claimed he was on his way home, and could I just spare some change? I saw him 3 hours later, a block away from his original spot, giving his spiel to a young couple. He must have forgotten about going home.

 

No handouts. No muggings. No problem?

I talked my way out of each of these situations without handing out a single dime (and without being mugged). To be honest, I sometimes feel a little proud about that fact. I beat the game. Out-talked or out-reasoned or just flat turned down every single request. I won. So why do I still have those nagging guilty feelings?

Is it because that’s how begging works – it preys on your emotions? Or is it because somewhere, deep down inside of me, I really do care? These people aren’t just “beggars.” They are people. Real. Human. Just like me. Many of them look to be my age or not much older.

 

If you give a man a fish…

Sometimes, I wonder what Jesus would have done. I don’t remember him walking down the street handing out money hand over fist. And personally, I’d rather not hand out money – I believe it rewards behaviors that I do not want to encourage.

For example, a man showed up in the parking lot a while back begging for gas money. My friend gave him some money. Two weeks later, the man showed up again. Same time of day, same parking lot, exact same story and again asked for gas money. This time, my friend refused. If you reward a behavior, that behavior will be encouraged and repeated.

 

Beyond handouts

I’d rather go deeper, beyond handouts. I’d rather help solve the core issue that’s causing them to turn to begging. However, the problem with going deeper is that it takes a lot more time and effort, time that I cannot or am unwilling to spare at the moment.

And so I turn and walk away. Troubled.

My Car Is Dead

Posted in Personal Thoughts by diptoe on December 24, 2010

I originally posted this online in 2007. Thought I’d bring it here. Enjoy!

July 5, 2007

My car is dead. It died silently during the night – the surrounding trees and a lone yard light stood as quiet sentinels, the only witnesses to the event. The car, a worn down 1989 red Chevy Beretta, had been on its last legs for quite some time now. The night before, it had groaned and sputtered to life one last time. The death rattle of its aging engine, so familiar to me by then, had prompted my sister to call me from her room to offer her car for the evening. I accepted her offer and left, forgetting about my faithful red Beretta parked forlornly on the gravel driveway. It never started again.

The car was in no way beautiful. Its many previous owners had used it and abused it, then passed it on to the next person. The last few years before I bought it, the car sat parked, used only when emergency necessitated. I purchased it in late 2003 from my boss’s boyfriend. The boyfriend wanted $300 for the car; on the advice of a friend that owned a car dealership, I offered him $50. We settled on $150 as a fair price, considering that it looked as if it would die any moment, even back then.

My car remained undyingly loyal during the four years we were together. It never really quit on me and no major repairs were ever needed. Well, except for that one time I drove over a set of railroad tracks minus the crossing. But I digress.

Like a stereotypical first car, it lacked the many of the comforts we take for granted. It had no air conditioning, and the heat quit for a couple of weeks one winter. The interior was shot. The driver’s side window would not roll down, and the door handle broke about a month ago. And no cup holders. Who makes a car with no cup holders?

Unfortunately, I never fully trusted my little red Beretta. I used it as all the previous owners had, giving it just enough love and care to ensure life, but never happiness as a car would imagine happiness to be. I never even tried to “fix it up,” reasoning that it would only be throwing money to the wind.

My relationship with my car was strained as a result. I frequently used other cars or sought other means of transportation to avoid the humbling experience of showing up at an occasion with *that thing.* In retrospect, this was an exceedingly ungrateful attitude. What kind of master refuses to be seen with his most loyal servant?

Now, upon the eve of its death, I ask forgiveness and make my peace. The car will be loved and remembered as only a first car can be. Though it had shortcomings, I realize now that perhaps they were only a reflection of my own. I am grateful for the times my little red Beretta and I had together. Its future is uncertain – I will likely not send it to the repair shop to be revived. Sometimes it is best to leave things at peace. –Edgar Diaz