Why we began giving our age as a percentage

Giving our age as a percentageI can still remember exactly where I was standing in the middle of that field when He dropped it on my heart.

I was in my secret place (that wasn’t really that secret).  It was technically a construction site for an upcoming phase in our subdivision high up on a hill.

For whatever reason development had been put on hold and this cleared 5-acre piece of beautiful land had become a little overgrown.

Because it was high up on a hill – a plateau of sorts – it was a pretty secluded area that I could go and think and pray. It was God’s treat to me and I wish I had spent more time there before they put houses all over it, but I digress…

About 6 years ago one winter day when it had warmed up to about 55 degrees, I went to the field and was telling God about some of the big financial goals that I was hoping for in my future.

And though it wasn’t an audible voice, He communicated as clear as could be to me that if we wanted to see those things come to pass we should begin giving our AGE as a percentage of our income.

At the time we were consistently tithing (10%) and giving probably 5% on top of that to various charities and ministries near and dear to our hearts. Since I was 31 at the time, giving 31% of our income represented a huge jump in our giving.

Our blog business had been doing pretty well at the time and because we had been budgeting for giving, we actually were able to give ~15% of our income pretty comfortably.  Doubling it to 31% on the other hand?  Not the same story.  It required a big leap of faith.

Side note:  I just need to interject that budgeting for giving was by far the biggest game-changer for us to fully ENJOY giving. We had always gotten joy from it, but when we added that budget category it created a practical shift to a spiritual truth (that it wasn’t actually OUR money) and made it so much easier to give. We were no longer deciding whether to use this $100 to buy shoes or give it. It was in a separate category and it wasn’t ours anymore.

 

A faith test

The first half of Hebrews 11:6 can be a little scary…

“And without faith it is impossible to please God…”

But, the inverse is really encouraging. God is pleased when we step out in faith.  My assumption is that this especially applies to things that He instructs us to do. This was critically helpful for us as we began giving our age as a percentage of our earnings.

I knew that I wasn’t making this up in my head. I had seen God work miraculously in our finances multiple times as we consistently tithed over the years. I knew that we could NOT outgive God.  I knew that as we stretched our faith in giving, more was going to come back to us and the cycle would just continue.

RG LeTourneau was a Christian businessman and inventor in the early-mid 20th century who spent many years reverse tithing (giving 90% of his income and living off 10%) and he has this great quote I love:

rg letourneau quote - I shovel it out and God shovels it back

 

Lest you think I am boasting

Honestly, one of my greatest fears is to be misunderstood.  Which is pretty hilarious because I share my thoughts and ideas on the internet for a living.  I mean, good luck posting that 2+2=4 on Facebook and have someone NOT claim that it is a political statement. That is just the world we live in.  Being misunderstood is part of 21st-century life.

And for 6 years I have wanted to share this idea publicly, but I have held back because I was afraid it might be misinterpreted as boasting or violating Matthew 6:2-4:

“So when you give to the needy, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be praised by men. Truly I tell you, they already have their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

But recently, God has been making it clear to me that part of my calling is to encourage people (like you) in this area.  Additionally, that trying to get attention and applause as you give a gift is a very different thing than encouraging believers with testimonies of His goodness.

It is a matter of the heart for sure.

My heart’s desire to share this as an encouragement and because I know for some of you it will inspire your faith.  And even if giving your age is a stretch at the moment,  I know some reading this will think to themselves “maybe I can’t do that right now, but surely I could _____”

And that is the goal.

 

Why we do this

Some people don’t get why we do this.  That’s okay.

Even if it weren’t out of obedience to God, we have a passion to use what He has given us to help further His plans. I may not be a preacher or evangelist, but if I can use what God has given me – a little extra money – to help spread the gospel and send more people to heaven, sign me up!

I’d much rather do that than be able to bathe in my money like Scrooge McDuck.  😉

scrooge mcduck

(Source)

Not surprisingly as we keep stretching in our giving, He continues to take care of all of our needs and provides many wants as well.

Matthew 6:33 says it well:

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

 

Where we are today

By the grace of God we have been able to continue giving our age over the last 6 years and are currently at 37%.  Some years have been tougher than others to pull off, but I have no plans of stopping now.

And I have confidence that God will continue to provide all our needs according to His riches in glory (Phil 4:19).  My hope is that someday soon we will be able to reach that 90/10 reversal that many others with the gift of giving have reached.

 

What I learned

Recently I started playing a game called Minecraft with my 4-year-old son.

First off, the game is really old and is way past its prime, but what I love about it is that it is one of the few games that is clean enough for my 4-year-old to play.

In it, the world is a simplified version of our world where if you want to build a house, you cut down a tree. If you want light, you build a fire (or torch). And if you want food to grow, you plant seeds. And in its simplicity, you quickly realize that if you want to have a big garden you just need to keep planting more and more seeds.

When they mature, you reap your harvest – which provides you food and more seeds. And then you just keep planting seeds and very quickly you have an abundance – way more than you need to survive.

We all know this, don’t we?

This is common sense and I think we all know this subconsciously, but as a society where most of us have never had to plant seeds, I feel like we miss the depth of this revelation.  And the simplicity of it as well.

If you want more of something, you plant seeds.

In a nutshell, that is how I have felt about our financial journey the last 10 years. We have just continued to turn as much of our income as possible into seeds (by giving) and as we have it has just seemed to grow. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been that simple.

I have learned that if you want more money to be responsible for (see the Parable of the Talents), you give more (plant seeds) and manage it well (be a good steward).

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” – Gen 8:22

Like so many other Biblical principles, it seems counter-intuitive and requires FAITH – and that is exactly where God likes to work.

 

Does this resonate with you?

I happen to know that lots of our readers share this desire to give beyond 10% and some are probably at the 90% (reverse tithing) mark.

I think they would agree and say that if this is a desire of your heart to be used this way, start giving what you have – just start planting seeds.

The woman who only had two widows mites (Luke 21:1-4) to give is still being talked about thousands of years later because of her willingness NOT to despise the smallness of what she had to offer and to give what she had in faith.

It cost her something.

It hurt a little.

This is why I have learned that it is better when I give and it is uncomfortable, rather than waiting for the next raise to come around or the next bonus.  It seems that something is activated when we step out in faith this way.

 

Regardless of where you are on your giving journey…

Let me ask you, what would happen if you planted a few more seeds this month?

 

 

 

 

40 Comments
  1. Dan Allen

    My wife and I have been married for 31 years. For the first 20 years we had been faithful to give at least 10%. Unfortunately over the last 11 years we have vacillated so much that I am overwhelmed with conviction.
    I know we should give out of obligation. I really do LOVE to give generously. But we do NOT steward our money wisely. We have been through the Dave Ramsey course x2!! I just can’t manage our money, and I feel like an unfaithful steward.
    How can we take that bold step of faith to start giving 10, 15 or 20% of our income? Do we just DO IT, and believe God will take care of the rest? Please give us your godly advice.

    Dan & Grace Allen 10236 Ashley Farm Dr, Matthews, NC 28105 (980) 229-2600

    • Bob

      Hey Dan (and others)! This question, and variations of it, has been asked a lot in the comments and responses to the email.

      While I don’t have a one-size-fits-all answer, I do have some thoughts and I am working on an article about it now that I will be posting next week – stay tuned

  2. Agada Sunday

    Thanks greatly. This is my heart, definitely not easy but it gives me joy to empty my hands unto God and the gospel he’d committed to our hands.

    All I have I received from the Lord. I have no peace to hold it back. Presently, my wife is not in good term with me because our last 5Days Revival Conference took all the money from the house. Having some debts still to offset. NOW, MY REQUEST TO YOU IS TO PRAY THAT I AND MY WIFE WILL SHARE THIS SAME KNOWLEDGE OF SEEDTIME AND HARVEST! His grace and mercies we enjoys is greater than anything we give unto God, and He won’t fail to bring us better harvest. Pls pray for us. MY HEART AND ALL I HAVE IS ALREADY GIVEN UNTO GOD, I CAN’T LOOK BACK!

    • Sheila

      He is wrong in going forward without regard to his wife’s thoughts. Needs to back up, repent and respect his wife much more.

    • Natalie

      Wow. I do think your comment was a bit presumptuous. I respectfully disagree. The gentlemen stated, “Presently, my wife is not in good term with me because our last 5Days Revival Conference took all the money from the house. Having some debts still to offset.” Nowhere did it indicate he went forward without regard to his wife’s thoughts. That’s your opinion. We are on the outside of the situation and can’t possibly know the context. Furthermore, this man is the Head of his home. He has the God-given authority to make the final decision in the event he and his wife don’t agree. He is the one that has to answer to God for his leadership in his marriage. A husband making a decision that is contrary to the desires of the wife IS NOT sin or disrespect; it’s called leadership. No one get’s their own way 100% of the time in a marriage. I am a married women and your comment was bothersome. Especially if you are a Christian and know God’s design for marriage.

  3. Belinda Robertson

    Thank you soo much for sharing.. My husband and I just said we want to give more, tithe and offering is in our budget – but I didn’t look at it the way you did in depth (That’s Not Ours!). That just changed me. So I am up for the challenge – which really isn’t a challenge when you understand that it’s not yours – I declare, In the Name of Jesus by the power of the Holy Ghost that I will increase our tithes in increments of 5% each week until I hear the Voice of the Lord tell me that’s enough as it was written in Exodus 36:6. Amen

    I believe that my husband and I are able to give an entire paycheck several times a year through the Gift of Giving.. Yes, Lord! Anoint us with the Gift of Giving,,

  4. janice

    I so enjoyed this article and know that it by no mistake that it has been presented to me. While I know that I am not there in my giving journey, I pray for continued maturity and faith that I will arrive at the destination uniquely and personally assigned to and for me. Thank you.

  5. JAMIE CORDELL

    What an amazing testimony! You give me hope Bob!

  6. Mark Contois

    That’s revolutionary. What an idea!! It surely will stretch your faith to believe God and His promises!!!

  7. Aja McClanahan

    Thank you for sharing this. I can truly say that giving is a blessings and demonstrates our faith in God. Recently, we changed our girls’ “income goals” to giving goals. The “STRANGEST” thing happened— they’ve been SO BUSY lately booking work (acting, voiceover, film, etc.) and thus have been able to give much more. Giving is great because it stretches you AND it blesses you!

  8. Marie

    That is a powerful testimony. Thank you so much for sharing. Believers need to hear other believers testimony about giving. This is an encouragement.

  9. Tony

    Great post. Thanks for sharing this, I know that must have been tough to do. It will inspire others, so don’t worry about that – you’re not bragging but just being obedient because of the position you’re in.

    This is certainly a good challenge to aim for. A few years back, I wasn’t doing good financially and then finally remembered I wasn’t really tithing, so I started even though it hurt at first. I’m now in much better shape and the next challenge is to give beyond 10-12% and have faith.

  10. Lisa

    I have a question about tithing. What if your current paycheck doesn’t cover basic living expenses (i.e like groceries) but you give the 10% anyway then have to go to a food pantry to eat? I always struggle with this because I feel like I’m taking back what I’ve given when I later have to seek charity.

    • Martha L Apuan

      Good question Lisa!

    • Ron DuBois

      Sometimes by accepting the help, we are blessing others by letting them give. I believe if you do that (tithe) you won’t be in the situation for very long. God says He will provide for your needs.

    • Sheri Waide

      Tithing has been taken out of context. We are to be cheerful givers for sure but if there’s debt, then by all means, take care of that first! Don’t feel guilty to see to your needs first. Be a cheerful giver of the intangible, like smiles, encouragement, sharing the Good news, perhaps a meal, even a cup of cold water.

  11. Shannon Hammond

    Thank you! This is very inspiring!

  12. Jen

    I have struggles similar to Lisa and would also benefit from your insight, Thank you.

  13. Henry

    Honestly I think that if your income isn’t enough to cover basic living expenses, it would make little difference if you decided to not pay tithe (that is to say that keeping the 10% would not help you much.) That being said, you are paying tithe in faith and obedience to God. Paying tithe, and giving to charity are two different things: you give to charity because you HAVE (more than you need) to give, and you pay tithe because u earn an income; in my opinion, even a begger can decide to pay tithe. Again, that being said, you receive charity because you NEED it to survive, you are not “taking back what you’ve given.”

  14. Josephine Bailey

    I’m living payckeck to paycheck, I’m always in the red moving around bills to just pay what I can each month.

    I know I’m not a good steward over God’s money. I do feel guilty when it comes time to tithe.

    Everything belongs to God. I know that. But I keep thinking about the water bill I skip last month and now it has double.

    Help me to break this bad habit and walk out on faith.

  15. Linda

    First…I am one of those who “get it”!

    Just this week I remember reading in the Old Testament where God told Abraham to do something…..Abraham obeyed….God continued to bless him. If you heard from God (which I get )…then all you need to do is obey him. He takes care of the rest. I also know you give with the right heart….joyfully.

    Last year, when I got my paycheck the FIRST 10 percent was given to God…BEFORE I paid my bills. That helped me…put things in perspective that God was first. Then I found beyond that other needs come up…and I would give….not only of my money….but my time. i never kept track of the “additional” offerings….it varied each month. If I felt that God was telling me to give…I did.

    This new year….He seems to be speaking to me that “All this money…it is His. Can I learn to
    live with that attitude?”

    I am working on that….my attitude towards the money I earn. I still make a list of organizations/people/church which I send my tithe…first thing. But this year….He is speaking differently. It’s not just about a certain percentage…but a change in my thought process on WHOSE money this is!

  16. Ron Ryan

    Question about tithing in retirement: How do we figure the amount to give from funds where we have already tithed (such as savings)? What about Social Security income (we paid taxes but get so much more back than what we paid)? What about pensions paid by the company (we paid nothing into this)?

    And for those still working, should we tithe on company paid benefits (such as insurance, disability insurance, stock awards, etc)?

  17. Leo Malingati

    I thank God for using you in this great manner to speak into my life personally. For sure when God increases your finances He also increases your capacity to give. I have not been keeping track of how much I just help out to those who need my help apart from the tithes, but I can surely say the Lord supplies according to our needs and the needs of those who come in our life for assistance.

  18. Jim

    Yes, this resonates with me! I asked Jesus into my heart when I was 9 years old. I’ve paid tithes throughout my life but when I couldn’t work and my wife was downsized it created huge debt over the course of the three years it took her to go back to school and get her second degree in nursing.

    We stopped paying tithes, trying to justify that we couldn’t pay tithes and meet the current bills. I felt God tugging on my heart and was convicted that we should be giving our tithes once we started going through classes at church to volunteer.

    The training reminded us that the money God provides is not ours but his and he only asks that we pay 10%. We started paying our tithes, although it was hard, we used our faith that he would provide. God blessed us with making our bills and has provided extra money from a family that wanted to help pay a bill, sales of items we no longer needed, etc. We have paid off a lot of our debt and my wife finished her degree and passed her boards. Her salary has just about doubled and we are working on digging the rest of the way out of debt.

    We are all human and society tells us to be successful and its a goal to make as much money as we can to have things. But, “Matthew 19: Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

    I believe if we make enough money to cover all our necessities and can give to those in need we are doing Gods work and we are working on building treasures in heaven. We all must die and will have to stand before God at judgment day. It will be so much more rewarding to have riches in heaven and anything we can imagine having on earth! Just my thoughts and beliefs.

  19. Connie

    My husband and I are retired and recently sold a business. We do tithe on our Social Security income and on my pension and investments. I just withdrew some money from a Roth IRA and plan to tithe on that. In addition, in 2019 I will need to take my first RMD on my traditional IRAs. The first year of doing that I plan to give the full amount to a mission organization that we have sent support money to regarding some missionaries. This money will go to the organization. I like the work they do and I don’t need the RMD so I would like to see it go there. I think I will do this every 10 years if the Lord doesn’t call me home or if He tarries. Bob, I respect the challenge you have taken and the way he has provided for your needs.

  20. Oladiji Olaleke

    Great article, if God is the source He should also be the (first) choice when the resources come around.

  21. Leslie Limardo

    I love this article! I started tithing right when my daughter was born, and have never looked back. I look forward to the time when I can give more. I try to do more every year but the mountain of debt keeps me from doing this. Please keep writing. This article is not about your generosity but about God and His promises! Thank you!

  22. Sarah King

    Thanks for sharing this!

    It’s been a gentle, but firm, burden on my heart the past few weeks especially, to give money to God. Just to give any money. Period.

    I give a lot to people in need, but I do not give specifically at church when the offering plate comes around. One reason is that I never carry cash, but looking deeper, if it were a true priority to me, I would find a way to get to an ATM and pull out cash before church.

    God is very gentle with me, as I know that – were our roles reversed – I would have lost patience by now. But this is the time to obey him.

    Thanks for sharing your heart and for having the courage to not keep the miracles a secret anymore.

  23. spoonman

    Wow, great post! It was certainly something that resonated with me and has been on my mind alot recently. I liked your reference to RG LeTourneau and that we shouldn’t give anything that costs us nothing. A great point you noted was to give when it was uncomfortable, but doesn’t the Word also state that God loves a joyful giver? I’m trying to reconcile giving joyfully even though it’s uncomfortable.

    Also, I would love to hear your thoughts on Deuteronomy 26:12 if that’s possible?

  24. Kings Eze

    I am really blessed by your testimony. so much to learn from you. I am presently doing 10% on tithe of all but after reading this testimony my heart is blessed and challenged Bob. You see the game illustration you gave is the icing on he cake. Seeds not sown is harvest lost, more seeds sown equals more harvest.
    Thank you

  25. Rosemary Etta

    Waoh Bob, this is an in depth inspiration. I pray God will give me personal conviction and the courage to give more. Honestly I am inspired.

  26. Bob

    Thanks for all the comments everyone!! I am working on another post that will hopefully answer all the questions that some of you asked –

    • Judy Harris

      Hello Bob. Thanks for this inspiring post.
      I have heard varying opinions about tithing on the gross or
      net amount. Would appreciate your thoughts.
      Thanks for a wonderful website.

      ~Judy

  27. Jennifer Quetant

    This post was very inspiring and encouraging! My husband and I are big givers. We give until it hurts because we stand on God’s promise in Genesis 12:1-3. God always provides for us, and gives us the desires of our hearts.

  28. Ramona @ Personal Finance Today

    I am 40 and hubs is 50. I really don’t think that giving 40% of my income and 50% of his would be such a great idea, especially with a small kid and trying to immigrate. Sure, we do give, since it’s something we’ve always done, but not as much as this 🙂

  29. Jamie Rohrbaugh

    Giving based on your age is a fantastic, creative idea. Thanks for sharing! And also, as a blogger and teacher, I understand the hesitation you mentioned about sharing certain things online. However, if the Lord leads you to do it, just know it really DOES help us who read. 🙂 Thanks again!

    • Bob

      Thanks Jamie – I appreciate the encouragement!

  30. Millie

    Hi Bob, Awesome to hear your new path for 2018. Cant wait to hear some amazing testimonies. Re your post. Just last week my Bishop preached on the tithe and poverty. this was a good wakeup call. I learnt again that the tithe BELONGS TO GOD. That in our hands the tithe is cursed-(a spiritual force). That curse can become generational. It cannot be broken by prayer and fasting but only by one thing – by giving God his share, THE TITHE. In Mal 3 10 he says to bring it all. He says: you can believe me and know that I will open the windows of blessing for you AND you will not have room enough to receive it. Then he says Mal 3:ll do this and I will also rebuke the devourer (that devourer that causes lack, that gobblesup your money, that causes holes in your wallet) and he will not destroy the fruits of your ground. The tithe is the only way to break the curse of poverty. My Bishop said “Your prosperity is already with you. What are you gonna do with it?” . Love how the truth can set us free.

  31. Ma. Cecilia D. Jola

    When we recognize that everything we hold in our hands actually belongs to the Lord, it is not so hard to part with our treasures.

    We are reluctant to give more than the obligatory 10% because we have not come to fully embrace yet His lordship over everything that we own.

    By the mercies of the Lord we will learn to give more not because we expect to receive more
    but because He is Lord. The heart that sings as the hand reaches out to give will indeed find joy overflowing.
    God bless your good and Godly heart, Bob.

  32. Red

    I would have to comment to be careful what you give to. Too many churches spend lots of money on unimportant things. It becomes really easy for them to forget that it is God’s money, not theirs. I know many will say that is the church’s responsibility and that you should just give, but you should give with your eyes wide open. Over the years, I have given more to Christian groups that didn’t put out full-color glossy magazines or bombarded me with requests for money. Christians should not practice blind giving.

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