Remembering my father, who taught me well that generous matters.

Over the years, I’ve been blessed by stories of godly parents and grandparents who both talked the talk and walked the walk of generosity. This includes the following tale told to Thom Jeavons and me as we did research for our book,  Growing Givers’ Hearts: Treating Fundraising as Ministry.

A woman recalled learning about tithing from her grandfather via the “tater” story, the tale of a poor farmer who at the time of harvest, counted out his potatoes into two piles: nine for market and one for God, nine for market and one for God. Looking at the meager pile that was God’s, the farmer exclaimed, “But how can I do less than give one li’l tater to God?”

“I’ve never forgotten that story,” the woman said, “and I’ve made God’s taters a priority in my life.”

My father and mother (Darrel and Betty Burch) with six of their seven children (circa 1966).

I thank God for the lessons in generosity that my siblings and I received from our dad.  Bringing up seven children on a pastor’s salary, he was likely tempted to hold back a tater or two – but he never did. He gave joyfully off the top of his paycheck and he boldly encouraged others to do the same.

My mother recalls with pride that our little church in Arnold, Nebraska, was the top contributor (per capita) in the state to American Baptist missions most years that Dad was in the pulpit.

One of my treasures is The Grace of Giving, a book I selected from my father’s library following his death in 1979. Among the passages Dad had highlighted is this: “If believers are not taught a scriptural doctrine of stewardship, can they be expected to give intelligently and can they be expected to realize that giving is indeed as vital a spiritual ministry as witnessing, reading the Bible, and praying?”

It’s been more than 30 years since my father slipped from this life at the too-young age of 49, but the lessons I learned from him about giving haven’t dimmed with time. Dad’s spiritual ministry of stewardship began in our home and it lives on in my heart.

My father taught me well that generosity matters and for that I am forever grateful. Thanks be to God for faithful and faith-filled dads.

Comments

  1. Carol Lytch says:

    What in inspiring story of parents who modeled trust in God. And Rebekah herself is evidence of the power of their example.

  2. What a treaure to have biblical stewardship modeled in ways that inspire a new generation in their giving. We must find and really amplify those examples for one another, especially to inspire this next generation that giving is not only part of our job as Christians, it is our love letter to God. Many have not had such examples, the concept is so foreign and my generation is under a false impression that we own, rather than steward, all God has entrusted to us. Let’s be loud with these stories and in sharing the fruits of such generosity God surely produced!

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