Thursday, September 16, 2010

How do we give?

As a "gift officer," I realize that I am supposed to be a pro on how to be a faithful giver, how to be a good steward of the monetary gift one receives, but in reality, I have no freaking clue.

I just got off the phone with an angry gentleman. Angry about who knows what, but angry enough to say things that put me down and caused me then to return the anger. But amid his rude comments, he said something along the lines of "I know it says somewhere in the Bible that you're supposed to give I figure if I give 10% I'm all set, right?" I flippantly said yes, but I'm not sure I did anyone a favor by answering that way.

Money is so sticky. Money is something that we all work to accumulate. It is something that we think about probably more than most things in life, and something that causes us more stress than other aspects of life. Yet we still don't feel like we can talk about it.

Let me put it into perspective. A young woman finds out she is pregnant. She goes around telling everyone once she can and it begins to dominate conversations just as her belly begins to dominate her clothes. Once the baby is born, that little bundle of joy continues to control most conversations, basically until the day he moves out (or the mother dies, to be more realistic).

But money is something that is always there, always looming, always peering over our shoulders. I'm in no way trying to say that money should hold an equally important spot in conversation as a baby, but I do think we allow money to permeate our thoughts in an unhealthy way because we don't talk about it.

Look at the financial crisis. I blame much of the problem on lack of communication. Looking at my own debt from student loans and friend's debts, I also think this was lack of hard conversations.

As a fearful flier, I have read book upon book about ways to conquer my fear. Many of them suggest that "naming" the fear is the only real way to release its power over you. I wonder if the same can be said to our fear of money...

So yea, I ask people for money. And it is awkward. But I think it shouldn't be. This gentleman on the phone today offered me a very valuable opportunity to challenge his beliefs that his 10% would get him to heaven. I do not think that ensures a person a "spot" in heaven, and I think it is unhealthy when a person thinks they have earned anything in relationship to grace. Money is something completely humanly constructed, therefore it can never have anything to do with our relationship with God. It is also so deeply connected with humanity that it is almost constantly sinful, so we should get rid of it. Not spending it on junk that breaks in a few years, but spending it on things that can in some way touch the kin-dom of God. Donations to charities and those in need are a few options, but there are many.

And if you don't give what? I'm pretty sure you'd still be a lousy sinner even if you gave 99.9% of your money away (yes, people, I think everyone, including Mother Theresa was a lousy sinner, and I thank God for that). But we still must try. And if we ever achieve that goal, like this man did, we set higher ones.

Talking about money is only uncomfortable because it reminds us of our addiction to it. And that's embarassing...


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