First of all, if this does not apply to you, EXIT NOW! Or, scroll to a different blog entry.
You would think tithing comes natural or easy as a church planter. Maybe it did in the beginning, maybe it didn't. But, tithing in general for whoever can be difficult, to say the least. So why wouldn't it be difficult now as church planters/pastors?
Growing up as a kid I never saw tithing meaning more than having a parent give me a dollar or two to throw in the plate. As I got older, I learned more and more about the significance of tithing, however I think I still viewed tithing as tipping the server in a restaurant. We owe the server, and we owe God. While this blog isn't about when I realized what tithing truly means, or is it to give you many reasons why we should be tithing. What it is about, is how hard it can be as pastors. But maybe that is just me, and if so, let me entertain you a second in how my husband and I failed miserably at it.
My husband and I planted a church in 2009. We lived off of support the first two years, not knowing what would or wouldn't come in each month. I can remember tithing looking more like, we give what we can or have extra. I know, I know…it was the first two years, we could have been better in all areas of church planting, especially tithing. After year two, support ended. We started taking a small salary at the church. This was our only income as my husband was not bi-vocational, and I was a stay at home mom. Not having any margin whatsoever, we tithed the beginning of each month only what we could, after some fair calculations.
Year four came, and church finances were just not coming in to match church bills. What that meant on our end was, no paycheck. Or much less of a check. In result, no tithing and a whole lot of praying over our mailbox. We became homeless for 3 1/2 months. Ok almost. Our lease was up, and our income was gone. We stopped taking any check from the church, so it could stay afloat. Therefore, we moved away from the city thirty minutes in a house with some friends. Did I mention I had two toddler boys, and another baby on the way. (it was crazy)
While I can keep going on about how we failed in the area of tithing, I will spare you. Unfortunately, where we all get caught up when it comes to tithing is having the mindset, if we had more then we could tithe. But, tithing is not about if we have more, then we can give. I think it is about taking the first of what we have before doing all the math and giving God what was already His. You are probably saying, but you don't know my situation. Oh but do I. I just gave you so many examples of me failing at tithing, and spared you a whole lot of the nitty gritty. I can tell you now, we can't afford not to.
When we don't tithe because we think we can't, we are living out of fear. Fear cripples us from having faith. The enemy wants nothing more than you to be crippled by fear. Because when you are crippled by fear, you can't live by faith. And, when you don't live by faith, it is much harder to give. I love what a pastor once said to Jim and I a few years back. "It is when I gave more and more, that I was blessed with more. But the seasons I kept more and tried to hold on to what I had, that I lost and didn't have much." God wants us to be givers. After all, He gave His only son.
Genesis 4:3-5 In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard.
I heard this verse/point last Sunday in a pretty amazing sermon on tithing. Notice, Cain brought His offering before the Lord not from the start, but over a course of time. It wasn't because it was fruit that God had no regard for Cain's offering. It was because He didn't have faith to trust God with it from the beginning. His brother, however, brought His firstborn of his flock. Abel didn't wait a certain time or calculate all he had to make sure he could cover his costs for the month. He gave.
Maybe you got this thing called tithing down. Or maybe the enemy has crippled you from stepping out in faith. Sure, tithing is hard for anyone, pastors or not. But, as leaders of the church we must start living and stepping out in faith not only because the bible says so, but because we need to lead our church well in this area.
xo a girl who sleeps with the pastor