In our Money Mic series, we hand over the podium to people with controversial views about money. These are their views, not ours, but we welcome your responses.
Today, one man shares why he gives 10% of his income to his church—and explains how it can be possible on any budget.
Some things in life just cannot be explained.
One of the mysteries in my wealth management practice is the glaring coincidence that a large majority of my wealthiest clients are some of the largest givers and tithers I have ever met. For those not familiar with tithing, it is simply the practice of giving a tenth of your income to your church or mission, or to charity. It’s a simple idea but not so easily accomplished; only an estimated 5% of Americans actually tithe.
Countless clients, friends and family members have asked me why I passionately believe in tithing. The story begins with a legacy of grandparents and parents who faithfully tithed and taught me at an early age to do the same. Even before owning my wealth management company, I remember interning at a financial firm at the age of 14 and observing that the families who seemed to enjoy the most blessed lives were those who were faithful and obedient. Not all of them were wealthy, but they had everything they needed.
I discovered wealth comes in many forms other than financial. Money can buy you a house, but it won’t buy you a home. Money will you buy you a bed, but it won’t buy you a good night’s sleep. Money will fill the offering plate, but it won’t fulfill you or save you.
Those early experiences helped frame my world perspective on placing a priority on tithing.
The easy answer to “Why tithe?” is because it works and God tells us to do this in His word in Malachi 3:10. “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” quotes the Bible. “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.”
When I First Began Tithing
When I first started tithing, I thought it was crazy. I worked so hard for every dollar, dealing with unruly customers and picking up spitballs under the table at a local Denny’s, only to give 10% of it away to the church.
Even today, everyone in my peer group knows me as the “cheap guy” (although, I prefer the term “frugal”!). I have been teased that I squeak when I walk. Yes, giving 10% was hard at first, but so is anything worthwhile in life.
Back then I was making $10 an hour. However, I chose to tithe because, in addition to be commanded to be obedient, I felt grateful to be able to give. Sure, I may have sacrificed things along the way—possibly a new wardrobe or a new car. Instead, I traded worldly things, which are temporary, for things I believe to be eternally lasting. Luckily, I didn’t succumb to those selfish luxuries because I had already learned a valuable lesson: Live without some things now and invest in things that will live forever.
Not Every Client Finds It Easy
Giving 10% of your income is a huge leap of faith for anyone. How do you start something great like tithing?
Zig Ziglar once said you don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great. Could you start tithing a full 10% of your income overnight? For many families, that’s not so easy. As a personal wealth manager, I have found myself helping my clients roll up their sleeves and get dirty with their cash flow and budgeting to squeeze out inefficiencies in their financial plan. The key is to start and draw a timeline of how and when you will be able to fully tithe.