Jim Hoeger, chair of the Stewardship Committee

I must have been about 13 years old when I saw the 10-speed Schwinn bicycle in the store.  I knew immediately that I would do almost anything to have that bicycle.  After discussing it with my parents, I decided to pursue a newspaper route to earn the money for the bicycle. Growing up in North Dakota. I knew that some of those early winter mornings were going to be rough, but my parents encouraged me and I was excited to be able to earn some money.

I remember the first time I collected money for the papers I had delivered.  I had earned a few dollars after paying for the newspapers.  That evening I told my father what I had earned,  and he informed me that he expected me to put half of the earnings into a savings account.  When I asked him why, he explained his philosophy of money. Earning money brings three principal responsibilities for the use of that money:

    • Caring for your personal needs.
    • Caring for your family’s needs.
    • Saving for your future.

Only after you have met these responsibilities should you spend money on other things.

So, you see, my father was a very frugal man. He explained that I was living in his household, and as a young boy I didn’t have any responsibility for family, so the first two responsibilities didn’t apply to me. However, in my father’s mind I had a responsibility to save for my future.

You can imagine my disappointment when I learned that my father expected me to save half of my earnings.  That meant that it would take twice a long for me to earn enough money to purchase the bicycle I wanted.  I sensed that this wasn’t a strict rule, but I knew what my father expected and I wanted to please him.  I followed my father’s wishes and put half of my earnings in savings.  Within a few months I purchased the bicycle.

I carried the lesson of my father’s financial discipline into my adult life. And, like the example set by my parents, I have been charitable and I give to the church. But several years ago, I wrestled with the question of how much I should give to the church.  What did God expect of me?

For me, the answer to this question came through prayer and meditation on God’s word. Not surprisingly, the answer from my heavenly Father echoed my earthly father’s advice. My heavenly Father revealed to me that I have three principal responsibilities with respect to my earnings.

    • First, He wants me to take care of my most basic needs.  I am His, and He wants me to flourish so I can do His work.
    • Secondly, he wants me to take care of the family of Christ.  I have a responsibility to be sure that my fellow Christians are fed in body and spirit, as well as a responsibility to ensure that the house of the Lord is maintained to provide shelter for those who seek his presence.
    • Thirdly, I have the responsibility to save for my future with Christ.

Oh, I know I can’t take my money with me when I die.  But Jesus said, “that which you do for the least of these, you do for me.”  So, when I give to those in need, I am saving for my future in heaven.

I know I will be welcomed into heaven by the grace of Jesus Christ, but it is my choice to arrive in heaven rich in the blessings that I have saved up in this world.