“Loving God is an intentional commitment to self-sacrifice for the well-being of others.” Rev. Mike Slaughter
2018 was a year of uncertain times, and not just for the stock market which experienced the worst year since the recession. Certainly, that was and is the situation if your job is affected by Trump’s threatened tariffs or government shutdowns, as well as for retirees whose income is based on the performance of their investments.
How then do we determine how much we can give, or should give when we don’t know what our income will be?
Forget specific amounts and think in terms of a percentage instead. Giving is an important spiritual discipline that is far too often overlooked. It is very satisfying to make a giving goal and to increase it annually until you get to a level you feel good about.
Mike Slaughter, the pastor quoted above, wrote a little book called shiny gods. He won’t win any literary prizes for it, but he speaks from experience and provides some good financial advice that is well worth reading and thinking about.
When he was in seminary one of his professors told him, “We don’t need any more people in the church who preach, ‘Do what I say, not what I do.’’ That was when he realized that Loving God wasn’t about saying the right words; it was about “an intentional commitment to self-sacrifice for the well-being of others.”
When he graduated from seminary in 1979, Mike, a Methodist minister, was sent to a two-room country church on a quarter acre of land, a church with a handful of members. The first month he was there they started a food pantry, an Alcoholics Anonymous chapter and then a clothing ministry.
In 1981 when their annual church budget was $32,000, the congregation was asked to give whatever they spent on their own family for Christmas to help alleviate a terrible famine in Ethiopia and 70 people contributed $18,000.
When shiny gods was published in 2013 the Ginghamsburg church he serves gave away 61% of its income. “Ginghamsburg is not an extraordinary church,” Mike said and “I am not an extraordinary pastor. . . . I believe the greatest need you and I have as human beings is to make a contribution.”
A fast read, shiny gods is a small book with a big message, written by a very human pastor who knows he doesn’t have all the answers. What he does is share his faith and his search for those answers with his readers and his congregation. Slaughter knows that “Loving God is an intentional commitment to self-sacrifice for the well-being of others.”
My prayer for each of you is that 2019 will be the year in which you make that commitment yourself and find the joy that goes with doing so.
Blessings on your efforts to give in uncertain times,