I am writing this article after church, which is why I am inspired to write about giving. I guess I needed to wait until Sunday to write. Giving, not just from the tithe perspective, but also the principle itself. There are several things that I heard today that really hit home for me as a Christian but also as just a continuous student of money.
First, we give because we are acknowledging God as the owner or source of our provision. The pastor mentioned something that we all need to hear. When we are in problems, we run to God. However our money does not run to God first. When we have issues, we don’t go to the bank, salon, clothes shop, etc. for them to help us iron out our challenges. But when it comes to spending, they are usually the first to receive the fruits of our labour. I can definitely see the irony in that. Not too long ago, some churches released their financial statements. I have heard people complain about how much money churches “earn”. Definitely there have been some religious institutions that have abused this, but not all of them. Not everybody, as we have seen, has done what they were supposed to do with this money. But some of the uproar has been without perspective. Fine, yes we do see hundreds of millions and even billions going through the hands of churches. But when Telecom companies, schools, banks, car dealers, even celebrities etc. make the same money from us, we don’t argue that much. It really at the end of the day comes to what we place value on. We can give just a portion of our money, or we can spend all our money on these other items. A few banks going rogue has not stopped us from operating bank accounts. If you have had a bad experience giving, it should not stop you from giving; it may just change the receiver (Click to Tweet this). Giving also puts your heart in the right place. Your financial motives cannot be simply about your wants, your needs, your desires, your goals, your lifestyle etc.
Where your treasure is, your heart will be also. We say a lot about where our hearts are, but does it show in our spending? We like to think our hearts are with God, our families, our relationships etc. Please note as I write this, I am acknowledging my faults. This article may be for me more than anyone else. If we were to track exactly where our money goes, does what we say or like to think we care about appear? What percentage is going to all these nice things we claim we value? We may just see that we actually place material things, entertainment, airtime and the bar; above things that we should value. I believe that if giving becomes a habit, it empowers you to actually plan your finances along what you value. Practically, it does necessitate you to spend less on all these other items. Then, you actually realise that you don’t actually need what you thought you needed so much and that you will not die if you reduce spending on certain things.
I believe that the principle of giving helps us to deal with the epidemic known as a scarcity mentality. We are constantly hearing that we don’t have, constantly talking about not having, constantly doing the things that ensure we will not have e.g. spending recklessly and getting into debt. Apart from the above points of prioritizing first the spending, many people falsely believe that they do not have enough to give. When we constantly reinforce to ourselves in various ways that we do not have enough, of course we are going to see why we don’t have enough and do the things that make sure we stay in this mindset. Giving reinforces that after all, you do have. You gave, didn’t you? This is so critical in a world where how you don’t have enough is constantly being thrown in your face. You buy the latest phone and another one comes out two weeks later. Got a promotion? The things that you can buy quickly surpass even this increase in income. You like your home until you go visit a friend in their new house.
We will never give if we are waiting to have enough. It’s the same way we always think we don’t have enough time to exercise. When we actually create the time to do it, we realise that we do indeed have the time and somehow, we make it work. It’s the same twenty-four hours. You didn’t get an extra hour a day with your gym membership. Or how we (women in particular) always believe we don’t have something to wear for a special occasion. But when buying something new is completely out of the question, our minds become creative and you manage to put pieces together in a way you had never thought of. You start seeing your current wardrobe in a new light with new possibilities. Giving does the same thing with our attitude towards money. You start moving away from all the reasons why you don’t have, and see things in a new light. You start looking at how things can be done rather than why they can’t be done. Apart from what you give, this could also enable you to be creative in other financial areas in your life e.g. how debt can be paid, how investments can be done, how businesses can be started. You may not get back exactly what you gave and how you gave it – that should never be the motive. You are not purchasing a return with your giving. However, I believe one of the blessings that come your way if you allow it to, is your perspective. Giving will transcend just money. Another important resource that can be shared is time. As Winston Churchill put it – We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.
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Waceke Nduati-Omanga runs programs on Personal Finance Management, Entrepreneurship and Career Success.