This past summer I took some golf lessons from a PGA certified instructor.
They were pretty hardcore!
I’ve been playing golf off and on for over 23 years. But I had never taken any real lessons. So, although I could pick the correct club for each swing, and I could keep the cart on the path, and I could dress like a pro, I hadn’t progressed in my game…. ever. I wanted to change that. So my wife and daughters bought me a lessons package for Father’s Day. I was excited to take my game to the next level!
Those lessons were brutal! I had to un-learn everything that I had learned over the past 23 years of trying to golf. I had been watching and emulating how other people played. I had taken advice. I had driven a thousand balls on the practice range. I had even read a few books. But my game was still mediocre at best.
My new coach had his work cut out for him. He taught me how to swing a golf club again, starting from square one. I wanted to go out and start dusting balls with my driver but I probably hit about 200 balls only about 30 yards for the first two lessons. My coach told me the same things over and over and over. I felt like I was doing what he was telling me, but inside I was resisting because I’d been doing this for so long, there was no way that I could be completely wrong.
Finally, out of my frustration after hearing the same thing come out of my coach’s mouth for about the 64th time, I made a wise remark at him along the lines of “you make this sound so easy!” He instantly responded, “Rob, it’s simple, not easy. If it were easy then everyone would be great at it. It’s not easy. But it is simple, you just have to stop resisting.”
Wow! Isn’t that the same with this tithing thing? I’ve been spending money for years. I’m a pro at how to spend money. I watch what everyone else does. I try to be like them. I’ve asked for advice. I’ve even read a few books. But taking that first step to begin tithing was H-A-R-D!
Other Christ followers made it sound easy. And I really wanted to tithe. I wanted to take my faith in God to the next level, and I knew that tithing would do that for me (and it has). But it irritated me to hear people talk about it like it is so easy. It isn’t easy. I’m a grown man! I got bills and stuff!
So let me tell you this…. Tithing is NOT easy when you start…. But it is simple. It really is. And as you get used to it, and you take control of your money, and you discipline yourself, it gets easier. I promise.
So let’s take some practical steps to get started, because I want us all to fund our church and our God’s Kingdom. And I want us all to experience the faith, and the worship, and the peace of mind that comes with obedience.
- Begin by praying and asking God to give you the courage to put His work first in all things…. ALL things.
- Figure out just how much 10% of your income is.
- Create a budget. You can find some great budgeting tools on the internet. Microsoft Excel also has some really decent searchable budget templates. You have to start telling every single dollar where to go. If you don’t tell your money where to go, it will end up going everywhere but the places that it should be going. And at the end of the month, you won’t have a clue where it all went. I know budgeting is dull and boring, but once you start making progress, budgeting is rejuvenating. It shows you exactly how much progress you’re making so you can celebrate the wins.
- The first thing on your budget to be paid should be your tithe. That goes to your home church.
- Figure out what needs to be cut so that your tithe takes priority.
- Figure out the difference between your “wants” and your “needs”. Prioritize the “needs” and start trimming the “wants” until you are more financially stable.
- You have to get out of debt! I know that it sounds easy…. It’s not…. But it is simple. You will never be able to fully focus on Christ as long as the devil has got you stressed out about your finances. My wife and I completed the Financial Peace University class by Dave Ramsey this past fall…. GAME CHANGER! I would recommend this program to anyone who isn’t debt-free. Check to see if your church sponsors a Financial Peace University class. Click HERE for more information.
- Start an extra savings account for the big items that you know are going to show up. My wife and I have an online savings account that isn’t tied to our regular bank. We make regular deposits into this account each payday so we will have money available when it’s time to pay personal property taxes, or get oil changes, or get new tires, or buy Christmas presents. We know that these expenses are on the horizon and we refuse to continue to finance things that we should be purchasing with cash.
- Get rid of car loans. You really don’t have to have that new vehicle. I know that it looks nice. I know it’s really impressive to the thousands of people that you drive by every day that you will never talk to. I know that you couldn’t possibly be driving around in something less than amazing when you can finance amazing TODAY! Then you can make monthly payments at 20%-30% interest for 4 to 6 years, just so you can get another new car because this one is too old.
My wife and I have two hoopties! But we don’t have any car payments!
They’re not really that bad… I just had to.
But seriously, if one of our cars were to break down, we would probably just sell it to a salvage yard and go buy another hooptie with cash. These cars get us everywhere that your amazing, beautiful, very classy, and very financed car gets you. Except mine gets me there with no loan payment, very low insurance premiums, ultra-low personal property taxes, and not a care in the world about someone running their shopping cart into the side of it. That’s a whole lot of extra money and peace of mind that I have that you probably don’t. Believe me, we were just like you not even a year ago. Then something clicked and we decided we weren’t living like that any more. And we never will again. You can do it too!
There are many other things you can do to honor God with your money. These are just a few steps to start out with.
Here’s the thing. If you look at your budget and realize that there are things that you are just not willing to cut in order to tithe, pray about it some more. Worship has to come from your heart. Don’t do this out of guilt. If you do it out of guilt you will resent God for it and it will damage your relationship with Him. You will never see the benefit of your obedience like that. Pray that God helps you feel His love more strongly. Pray that the things that you love more than Him will eventually let go of your heart. Name them out loud, cable TV, fishing tackle, Tupperware. Whatever it is. Be honest with God. Tell Him that you want to be obedient and you want to worship Him with all that you are and all that you have, but you’re just not there yet. Ask Him to help you.
He loves you. He desires a relationship with you that isn’t forced or coerced.
The spiritual maturity that I’ve gained since I decided to start tithing cannot be described. I want that for you as well.
One last shameless plug:
Why do you think that it’s so hard to take the first step to tithing?