I was invited to give a stewardship sermon last Sunday. Specifically, I was asked to share stories of people I have known in my ministry who have been “giving heroes” to me. It was a fun exercise to go through the churches I’ve served and start listing names of generous givers. Generosity has many forms. Some were people who gave sacrificially of both time and resources. Other’s filled in gaps in the budget, or dug deep into their pockets to help people in need.
Don was a 73 year old retired county worker when he bought some shares of stock the year a home grown company went public in 1987. Shortly after, the market plummeted. Stock was down to pennies and I almost think that Don’s purchase of the stock was more an effort to help the company, than it was an expectation there would be any significant return on his investment.
To everyone’s delight, the stock took off. It split and it split again and again. As it multiplied, Don found himself with more wealth than he ever thought possible. He had just dropped off two hundred shares of stock the day he told me, “I never expected to be wealthy. It was a complete surprise.” I think it was because he had never expected wealth, that he had no sense of entitlement to it. For Don, wealth was not something to hoard only for himself and his family. He saw himself as a custodian and a steward of that wealth. Money was to be given wherever there was a need. Sharing his good fortune was a gift and a joy. He looked at the abundance he had received as a means of blessing others.
As I thought of his story and the others, I was reminded once more, of the gift of being a pastor and of the people who have blessed me along the way. I give thanks for each of these cheerful givers who counted it a blessing to share their wealth, to help those in need and return to God a portion of what they had received.
Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. II Corinthians 9:7