“When was the last time you were fully conscious and present in your generosity? Or to rephrase that, when was the last time your generosity brought you unexplainable, total joy?” -Alexandra Khan

A few years ago, we were part of a large and busy church organization in another city. This is the place where we first met, held our wedding, formed friendships, became parents, and cut our teeth in ministry. As the church increased, so did the opportunities for strong couples like ourselves to serve in leadership roles. How we appreciate those experiences! Because nothing grows your character and abilities quite like carrying that weight.

Upping the Ante

The financial needs of the organization continued to grow, and as representatives we felt responsible. In our marriage, we’d always been tithers. We gave a traditional 10% of our income to a place that represented so much of our life. Then came a season where we felt called by God to give more, even sacrificially. It was the right move for us to make then, and I remember how it positively impacted our faith.

The Cost of Keeping Up

However, we failed to understand was that it was a season. We maintained that intense level of giving because we hungered to fit in with everyone else there doing the same. Our temptation was to appear strong and capable at all times, never needing rest. We turned off the still small voice of the One who tenderly guides. The internal voice of guilt and condemnation was simply louder and easier to believe.

Over time, we exhausted ourselves. Our family goals and our business suffered. There was a serious conversation in our house. Where was that overwhelming provision we expected back from God? And where was the surge of joy that wells up from the deep? We were missing it sorely.

Before, First, Forever

Before we could answer those questions, God first had to first untangle our identity from our ability. It takes faith to know that God’s love and approval is not based on what we bring to the table, but what He brings. Someday we’ll all be in heaven and surrounded by talented people on every side, pouring out our gifts and abilities for the One. Absolutely no one will feel like they can’t keep up or don’t measure up!

But friends, we cheat ourselves if we fail to discover this HERE and NOW on Earth: that before we attempted anything big, before we ever gave a dime or invested any part of ourself to please him, He loved us first. He loved us before we were capable of anything. He loved us through exhaustion and failure and He loves us still. Our identity is sons and daughters. Our value is nonnegotiable.

Redefine the Mission

Once Steve and I understood, our view of money became simple. We entered a new season. Our family slowed down and we stopped feeling guilty about it. We could rediscover our goals:

  1. Invest time and money building a lifelong connected family (our legacy).
  2. Establish a business that blesses our family for generations (our endowment).
  3. Embody generosity as a family so that our children (and theirs) appropriate the pattern (our heritage).

The Spigot of Joy

We set to work, applying money as a tool in these 3 areas. We set new boundaries to empower sustainable generosity. We started giving organically, to other families and any causes that lit us up. And a curious thing happened. The spigot of joy began to gush again! It impacts our children, our relatives, and anyone we give to.

Today I propose to you that before giving was about percentages and should-be beneficiaries, it was meant to be about joy. Before it was about making sure the church had enough money to keep the lights on, it was meant to be about joy. Before it was about being seen as philanthropic or community-minded, it was (let’s say it all together now…)” -Alexandra Khan  (https://www.threadsuk.com/chris-martin-tithing-and-conscious-giving)

His Yoke IS Easy

How awesome is it to serve a God who builds generosity into our lives? He was the first to shower us with generous, indefatigable love. His creation is wired to also be magnanimous. If you find yourself being stingy, giving on autopilot, or giving out of anything but joy – take a breather. We wholeheartedly believe He would rather you take a break to find His joy again, rather than have you push through solely out of duty.  Consider our story, and find your own in the process. Remember that giving is a joyful opportunity to connect to others. It’s that simple.

Here’s what we are passionate about giving to right now, and we see the hand of God in it: www.theFinishLine.org.

Written by Melissa Brendtro