The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


'How much will you keep?'

My pastor's question still challenges my giving

I was converted to “10-percenting” by the preaching of God's word. More than 20 years ago, single and in my 20s, I listened to my pastor, Don Hesterman, talk about money from the pulpit. He said, or I heard: “If everything you are and everything you hold is the Lord's, then the question is not how much you give but: ‘How much do you keep?’

I can't remember how long that challenge needed to percolate in my mind. But keeping more than 90 percent never seemed a viable option.

Sure, I tried to find wiggle room. At first I gave 10 percent of my net after-tax income. It took a couple of years for the Spirit to lovingly nag me into discomfort. I began to tithe my gross income. Still, I tried another ploy — not keeping close track of my income, treating the 90 percent as a range to avoid writing an offering check.

But eventually, giving became more fun than burden.

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