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Lesson 6a: Tithing

Objective: Understand the basics of tithing for prosperity.

Tithe means tenths in Hebrew and Greek.  Traditional wisdom tells us that we should tithe 10% of our income to a charity or church.  It is based on a spiritual principle that if we give a tithe then we will receive the abundance of heaven.

In 2000, 39% of Americans families gave $500 or more to a charity and/or church with the average family contribution being 2.4% of their income
- Charitable Giving: How Much, By Whom, To What, and How?, Boston College

In addition, the average contribution rate is relatively stable by income level and only varies significantly for those making $300,00 or more (increases to 4.4% of income)

In my view, tithing is more about the process and less about the 10% guidance.  Lucky for us because most of us do not tithe 10%.  Tithing is about giving a part of what you have for the benefit of others without the expectation of return.  It is about helping others by sharing our gifts, talents, and money. 

Tithing works because it helps us overcome our beliefs of sacrifice and scarcity with money.  Being in the practice of tithing is being grateful for the abundance that we already have.  It is a state of being able to give freely and not being tied to a possession or money.  It is about knowing that we can give a share of our abundance (whether it is 5%, 10%, or 15%) because we already have an abundant life.

If you give 10% freely already out of gratitude for what you have, that is great.  If you feel that tithing is about giving 10% because it is a requirement of your faith, then tithing is less about gratitude and more about sacrifice and obligation (I need to do this in order to get that).  Giving out of obligation dilutes the effect of tithing, in terms of its ability to promote a feeling of prosperity.  

Can I give my time instead of money?

No one has ever become poor by giving.
- Anne Frank

It is best to give both time and money.  Charitable organizations not only need money but our time and talents.  For some, it is easier to give time versus money and for others it is easier to give money than time.  Yet, to overcome the idea of sacrifice, I would encourage you to look for ways to give what you believe you do not have.  For example, a busy father who feels that he does not have enough time for his son, can still give by coaching his son's sports team (even as an assistant coach). 

Giving your time to local charities or to cleaning up your neighborhood can have a profound effect.  Lending a charity your particular expertise (business advice, for example) is another way to give time to local charities.

What if I have nothing to give?

Giving is all about feeling worthy, about feeling good about what you do have, and about feeling that you do have something to give.  Let's take an extreme case, such as what does a homeless man have to give?  Even though he may not have any material possessions, giving directions to city visitors or by giving a smile to strangers on the street could make a person's day.

So think about what you have to give that can benefit society, even in the smallest way.

If I have a difficult year (e.g., lose my job), can I give less?

You can do what ever you feel is right and what you need to do (or not do).  Yet, if charitable giving is what you decide to cut back on the most, what is this saying about your abundance?  That it is dependent on the economic conditions?  So take a look at the budget and see what other areas that you can cut back on (like vacation fund).   Also, think about what else you can give such as time.  Think about what the charities and the people that they help.  In tough times, it is not only you that may be suffering, but also those who are helped by the charities.  In tough economic times, this is when the charities and those that they help need our assistance the most.  If everyone cut back in a recession, what would the charity have to give to those in need?

I work hard for my money; why should I give it away?

"We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give."
- Sir Winston Churchill

This thinking is based on Darwinism, survival of the fittest.  For some to survive (strong), others must perish (weak).  Is this the type of society that we want our children to live in?  If so, what if your child is one of the weaker ones? 

From another perspective, there is nothing wrong with wanting others to be self-sufficient so they do not need your assistance in the future.  Yet, withholding money from welfare type programs is not going to get people off of welfare and into productive jobs.  Yes, some people will always try to take advantage of the system and stay on welfare because they choose not to work when they can get something (welfare) for nothing.  However, others are looking for a way out.  They want a better life but just do not know how to get it.  Thus, welfare is meant to to meet their basic needs and education is what is needed to get them on a path towards their prosperous and abundant life. 

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