THRIVE, parishioner perspective: Benjamin Thomas

Thrive is the theme for this year’s stewardship focus as we look at the ways our parish is growing and bearing fruit, and as we explore the way in which stewardship is a vital part of the way each of us grow in living out our faith.

The following is a Parishioner Perspective from Benjamin Thomas. Ben is married to Karen, is the father of Lelia and Evangeline, and is serving his first year on the vestry.

A few nights ago, I called my mom to talk about plans for the holidays. In the last several years, Karen and I felt like we had a pretty good system going. The way we divided things up meant we were rarely in one place for more than 12 hours. But our system allowed us to make it to most family rituals, with roughly equal time spent with each clan.

But last year, my mom told me I was hurting her feelings. Sure, we were always there when we needed to be. But we were so busy zipping here and there, it felt like we were just fulfilling obligations. She didn’t care which holiday she got. But she wanted her son to want to be there.

That’s how God feels about us. He wants the best for us.  And he wants us.

Consistent giving is good for you. A recent book, The Paradox of Generosity, documented mounds of research showing that: (1) one-off acts of charity don’t increase happiness; but (2) consistent generosity caused significant increases in happiness. (The book does not document how generosity affect eternal happiness, but a well-known teacher and messiah has suggested that the wise use of resources in the present life will lead to an abundance in the sweet by-and-by.)

More germane to my present point, however, is this fact: how you choose to spend—your time, talents, and money—reveals who (or what) you love.

St. Paul told the Christians in Corinth to “give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” This is good news, especially for those with big student loans and young kids at home. God doesn’t want 10 percent of your annual gross income any more than my mom wants equal time on official national holidays. He wants your love, and He knows that how you spend is a reflection of your innermost investment priorities.

If you’re not currently giving to St. John’s or other Gospel causes, what can you joyfully give? Is there a church project you’d have fun volunteering for? Is there a church ministry you really believe in and would like to donate to? If you’re already giving, consider where you’re spending money on “stuff,” and invest that money in God’s Kingdom instead.

Most importantly, pray (gosh, this is convicting me as I write) that God will so assist you with His grace that you will be a cheerful giver. As Paul also told those Christian in Corinth, God will not only give you the resources you need, He will also give you a cheerful and giving heart.

I called my mom this week and told her that we’re spending Thanksgiving with Karen’s family in Dallas this year. But my mom and I love going to Baylor football games together, and the day after Thanksgiving, Baylor is playing TCU in Fort Worth.I asked my mom if she wanted to go to the game and spend the weekend in Dallas. She was thrilled.

Maybe you can’t afford season tickets. But could you take God to a TCU game?