The Giving Grid, Part 2: Calling Giving
Once we get over the ‘why’ and ‘how much’ questions about giving, we come to the ‘who’ and ‘what.’ Who will we give to? What ministries will we support? This is really tough without listening prayer and a ton of courage. There will always be more requests for support and donations than we have money or bandwidth to engage with.
Here are some of the mistakes I’ve made over the years . . .
- Giving just because someone asks you to– Parachurch people raise their support through relationships. Church building campaigns always come down to a ‘personal ask.’ It’s hard to tell someone you know “no” . . . it’s easier just to say, “Ok, how about $25 per month?” or to stroke a check than to make them feel rejected. At one time, we were giving to support 9 people with little prayer and no real ‘calling’ to what they were doing.
- Giving to relieve guilt– Even Americans who aren’t wealthy have so much more than most of the people in the world. We see the images of helpless children in developing countries and feel we have to do something. We’ve supported as many as 10 Compassion kids at a time. Again . . . little prayer involved. Simply reacting to the feeling of guilt in our gut for being so blessed.
- Giving from excess– We are always less careful with what we have in excess. I’m a champion and total supporter of the National Christian Foundation and will always be. But I’ve found one downside to NCF. And it’s not their fault at all . . . it’s a ‘heart problem’ on my end. Once I put funds in my NCF account (and get the tax deduction), that money is gone from my personal account. It’s been slid over to the ‘God side’ of the ledger and I feel ‘rich’ from a Kingdom perspective. I have excess . . . ‘dry powder’ to work with. A good thing? I’m not sure. I find I’m quicker to donate from my NCF account but less thoughtful and less prayerful. The money I’ve kept in my personal account gets ‘stickier’ . . . I feel like I have options. It’s still ‘’
- Letting tax deductibility speak louder than God– I’ve walked right by God’s calling to help someone because I couldn’t figure out how to get a tax deduction for my help. This is just wrong. Good stewardship says to get as many deductions as possible and pay only the taxes you owe. But stewardship in the Kingdom of God is about helping our “brother in need.” It doesn’t distinguish between tax advantaged and non-tax advantaged giving. Someday (I think sooner than later), there won’t be tax deductions for charitable giving. That will be a day of purification of motives won’t it?
- Sacrificial giving only– A friend of mine decided that if his giving didn’t involve sacrifice, it wasn’t real giving. Another friend says giving from your will (after you’re dead) isn’t really giving because it costs you nothing while you’re still here. While I get the connection to Godly motives in our giving, I believe God’s calling for us to give may or may not involve sacrifice. He’s working in each of our hearts in His own way. For some . . . at certain times, He calls us to sacrifice. For others, it’s simply to listen, obey and give, whether from abundance or scarcity.
As givers, the only peace-giving answer is to find what God is calling you to. Giving is an act of worship. Don’t make quick decisions. Take the time to pray . . . to ask God to guide you. Where is God moving? Where is He inviting you to join Him? What does your heart break for? Unsponsored Compassion kids? High schoolers engaging with Young Life? The homeless? The hungry?
Only by asking God, listening to His voice and obeying His leading can you give with peace and conviction.