Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Useful Pair

"When I was president of United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, one of my favorite treks was to Columbus, Indiana. There lived Fran and Chuck, both in their eighties, who were major donors to the seminary. A couple times a year my job was to give Fran and Chuck a "great opportunity for usefulness." I would take them out to lunch and dinner, spend a pleasant afternoon telling stories about what was happening in the world of theological education, and work into the conversation my my case for increased levels of support. Before I left in the evening to drive back to Dayton, I usually received a check for the annual fund. The first ones started out at $5,000. By the time I left United to go to Drew, their checks were in the amounts of $15,000 and $20,000.

"United was one of their smaller charities. Fran and Chuck spent their last years having the time of their life. They sat on a back porch in Indiana and waited for the world to come to their door. And the world did. Heads of universities, ministries, and charities from around the world traveled to Columbus, Indiana. Some of the biggest names in education, the arts, and the church drove into an unassuming retirement community, spent the day with two enchanting individuals, and paid for all their meals. Fran and Chuck were besieged with gifts. Their walls were crowded with pictures of world leaders. Their calendar was crowded. They never cooked. Every day was different.

"Fran and Chuck decided that they were in a time of life where they could live off a reverse tithe, no more than 10 percent of their income. Their goal was to spend as little as possible on themselves and to give away as much as they could on causes they believed in. Some of my peers were receiving checks of $50,000 or more when they came to call. Some got only $1,000. But here were an elderly couple whose last years were their best years because they got a theology of receiving right."
--an excerpt from the book, "Soul Salsa," by Leonard Sweet

Consider this quote from John Wesley:
Gain all you can, without hurting either yourself or your neighbor, in soul or body, by applying hereto with unintermitted diligence, and with all the understanding which God has given you. Save all you can, by cutting off every expense which serves only to indulge foolish desire, to gratify either the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eye, or the pride of life. Waste nothing, living or dying, on sin or folly, whether for yourself or your children. And then, Give all you can, or in other words give all you have to God.

Do you think you could live like this: make all you can; save all you can; give all you can?


  1. That couple that lives on a tithe (keeping only 10%) is very impressive! I like to think I could do that at some point in my life, but I am writing this after just returning home from a little shopping trip where I wasted a decent sum of money on early Christmas shopping... all the stuff I bought is just "stuff." And I barely gave it a second thought. Giving generously is a lifelong goal of mine, but also a lifelong challenge.

  2. I will need to pray over this. I do have excess stuff in my life. I support St. Paul's in all ways.

  3. Praying... always a good idea...