The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
My husband, Andy, and I returned to church here at St Thomas as parents of two young children. We commuted to jobs in Arlington and DC, so the kids traveled with us, and we enrolled them in Corpus Christi Catholic School.
When we thought about offering at church, we knew it was important, so we looked at the budget. House & car payments, utilities, Catholic School tuition (at non-Catholic rates!), savings for retirement (at least we were thinking ahead) and lots of taxes seemed to leave little money for discretionary spending. I grew up in the Methodist Church, so I knew vaguely that a tithe was 10%, but that was probably after taxes, and we were already giving significant money to a church with all that tuition. We came up with a comfortable weekly pledge. Over the next few years, we even increased it a bit each year.
After about five years, the Stewardship Campaign included personal testimonies by a few members of the congregation. One of the testimonies really struck home. I can’t recall what she said exactly, but I clearly recall the message I received: It’s all God’s from the start.
Andy and I came home and immediately changed our entire perspective on deciding our pledge. Our tithe came first – before any taxes, tuition, savings or other expenses. It is, in fact, the very least we can do for God who has blessed us so much. For all His gifts to us, God only asks for our first fruits, not our leftovers. A lesson as old as the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis.
It is not magic, but it is amazing how easy it was to move forward when our priorities were correct – God first, and everything else falls into place.
About Pat Dodson
Pat has been attending St. Thomas for 25 years. She teaches Adult Sunday School, serves as President of United Women in Faith, and volunteers in the church office. Her two grandsons, Angus and Erroll, are the newest joys in her life.