More About Tithing

2014-09-28 11.36.23

As I looked at the title of yesterday’s blog I realized I needed to say a little bit more about the principle of tithing before moving on and again, I want to remind you that I’m not trying sell you on any ideas, just telling my own story. In fact, why in the world would anyone want to listen to anything I have to say about money given how many times I have crashed financially? If anything, maybe you can learn from my mistakes.

So a bit more on tithing: It is one of the first things that church haters call out when they need to talk about how wicked all religions are and how they have done so much more harm than good. They talk about the big nice cathedrals and the starving people and the rich televangelists and so on and so on. I’m not talking about any of that. I know a lot of organized religions do a lot of harm. You need look no further than the centuries-long persecution of gay people to prove how much harm they can do. This isn’t about organized religion but about a spiritual principle and in fact, I do believe that the principle will work for people who don’t even believe in God. For what ever their “spiritual” life might look like to them (which might just be their psychological and emotional well-being), I believe that if such a person would give the first and best 10% of what they earn where they are fed in these ways, they might see the same benefits I have while practicing the principle of tithing. I’m treading in dangerous waters here because its starting to sound like I’m proselytizing. Let me get back to my own experience. Remember too, that as I said yesterday, it is possible to go broke (or deeply into debt) while tithing. In my case I do believe this goes back to what I had alluded to yesterday in the arena of “poverty consciousness.” There is (I’m almost ashamed to admit) a part of me that has believed that I was “supposed” to be poor, that that’s what I deserved. Even when I’ve had a fair amount of money, I’ve often given it away (or spent it recklessly) until I could be once again near that (dare I say) comfortable and familiar “zero.” I’m willing for this to change. That’s what this process is all about. By sharing in this journey with me, you are helping me to be accountable. For that I am deeply grateful.

Let me say this too about tithing. I don’t think it is something that “God” is going to “punish” me for not doing. That’s not the way I think about it. Here’s the gift tithing is for me: It keeps me ever mindful of my blessings and keeps me conscious of the fact that my good comes to me from a plethora of avenues, many times and ways unexpected. It also keeps me ever on the lookout for spiritual food so that I can make sure I’m getting it. On September 1 of this year, I had not been getting it. That’s how I got to a place where I was recklessly considering giving away that most precious of gifts, life. I don’t want to find myself there again. I don’t want to be the next veteran suicide. That is why I’m so diligently doing this work. That is why I’m reaching out (and praying) for help to get better. I have a ridiculously wonderful life when the inventory is done. I must not let a small handful of negative things (that absolutely can be changed) color my experience of the rest of it. If nothing else, if I never achieved any of my financial or career goals, I know very few people who are as blessed as I am to be surrounded by so many incredible people who support them. My life is God’s greatest gift to me. My friends are the chief blessing of my life.

It is absolutely okay with me that I got to such a low place on September 1. I accept it as a part of my path. It is absolutely okay with me that I have at times embarrassed myself publicly by being so candid and honest about my struggles. It is no longer necessary for me to look good to the public. My journey has been sloppy. I have failed in about every way a man can. When I pray the prayer “take away my difficulties that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Your power, Your love, and Your way of life” I am aware that this is the chief reason I want to see these demons slain that have had me by the throat for so long. And that is saying a lot. That puts letting others benefit from an example of overcoming before relieving me of my pain and let me tell you brothers and sisters, I have felt a hell of a lot of pain in my life.

I am ready to receive this overcoming in the area of finance and career and I am determined to follow these steps to get there:

1) Tithing

2) Investing in my dreams

3) Goal setting/visioning and

4) Forgiveness

and I am adding another tonight:

5) good stewardship.

I’ve said all I’m going to say on the tithing thing (at least for now). I thought I’d get the uncomfortable one out of the way first. After that, the rest seem easy. How is it then that this was the step I did most consistently while allowing the others to lag and allowing myself to slip back into the familiar poverty that has been the hallmark of my financial life? Again, I believe it has everything with what I believed I deserved. Old programming is not easy to change. I don’t even know if I can do it on my own. I somehow doubt I can. I am going to need the help of a power greater than me and the love and the support of my fellows. That’s okay. I’ve been here before. There was a very long time I could not go a single day without drinking and now it has been more that twenty years since I had a drink. If such a miracle can happen with regard to my substance abuse, I have no reason to think that a similar miracle can happen with regard to practicing to the same spiritual principles that have kept me from drinking and drugging in all my affairs— to include career and finance.

Tomorrow I’ll talk about investing and how I’ve done everything I could to avoid it. I hope you’ll come back.

See y’all tomorrow.