Tithing at church growing up always left me feeling a lot of guilt and shame. I never remembered to bring any money (although I was a child). Growing older, I heard frequently to always give 10% of what you made back to the church, although I could never manage to do that either. When the tithing plate came around I felt bashful, putting in my change and hoping no one would notice that it wasn’t much, as the plate went from person to person. Surely everyone would see my small tithe and think less of me.
As an adult, I have only recently starting my own form of tithing in the form of supporting a person who fundraises for their salary, and yet I always feel guilty that it is in no way close to 10% of what I have. With bills and a toddler and all of life’s expenses, I will always look for more ways to give back monetarily, but it won’t ever equal 10% at this point. Part of me feels so much guilt, although as a person who fundraises, I gladly accept even $1 and cherish it as a special offering from someone’s heart.
Lately, I have been wondering how God feels about all of this.
At the Dale, I have learned that calling what people give us “offering” has felt very freeing. We use a hat or a basket to collect our offering, and recognize that not everyone can give money, such as they normally would during tithing. Instead, offering can be money, art, a prayer, doing the dishes for our meals, bringing a donation of clothes, offering a word of encouragement to other community members, a token, a cigarette, and so much more. We have pictures of our offerings from various weeks, as the unique things dropped in the basket are so beautiful and are deeply cherished by us.
Not only are these offerings going to The Dale, which in turn go back into the community. They are also for God. In my opinion, He does not need a certain amount of money to see your love for Him and His people. He needs to see your heart. If all you have to give one week is a prayer, that’s okay. If you have 10% to give, that’s okay. If you have the ability to wash a dish for a friend, that’s okay. Any gift that is offered with a joyful heart, given up to Him through loving your neighbour, is pleasing to the Lord. That’s what I hope anyways.
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” – 2 Corinthians 9:7
I have always struggled with perfectionism. Part of my anxiety stems from always trying to do things to such a high standard. And while there is nothing wrong to holding yourself to a high standard, it needs to be a grey area where there is also room for grace for yourself. My change in the tithing basket never seemed like enough. However, working at The Dale and learning many lessons about the art of giving and receiving, and offering your best, has taught me that God takes gladness in our best efforts – whatever that looks like. Whether it is a penny or a dollar, when we give joyfully, He knows our heart’s intentions. And I hope that He is pleased.
In talking to Joanna and Olivia about my blog, Jo helped me think of the 10% “rule of thumb” in tithing as one that is not meant to be legalistic, but more of a benchmark. When we give more than what we think we can, God also sees that and is faithful to us in taking care of us when we think we won’t have enough. I know that to be true from when I started my work here at The Dale and never thought I would be able to support myself through fundraising my salary. I am grateful for the wisdom of my co-workers turned friends that teach me new things all the time and help me see things in new ways.
I was really nervous to write about this! Talking about money always feels a little strange to me. But I hope you can see through this blog that perfectionism can take over your peace, and instead giving what you have in the form of money or offerings is always gladly accepted by God. Giving your best and going beyond that when you don’t think you are able will be received well by God, and He will care for you.
Speaking of fundraising, in order to work at The Dale I must fundraise my entire salary by asking people to walk alongside me financially. If you are able to, I would love to connect with you about this. You can visit https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/the-dale-ministries/?mprompt=1 to give and indicate that it is for me, or you can connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org