Shame Tactics Don’t Work, Folks!
As we continue in this quadrennium with our focus on from Strength to Strength and specifically during this Annual Conference year as we focus on giving, we are being challenged to study and learn more about the spiritual practice of giving. Our Leadership Team recently invited Dr. Greg Jones, Senior Strategist for Leadership Education at Duke Divinity School to meet with us and help us think more about how to live in a spirit of abundance and generosity. One of many things that I took away is that shame tactics don‘t work!
We are all called to give out of our abundance. Most of us, even the poorest in the US have more resources available than folks in many other parts of the world. But most of us live out of our scarcity rather than our abundance. Dr. Jones reminded us that most of us live in the 2-year old mind-set of Me, Mine and No! But, God thinks in terms of We, Ours and Yes! God created us out of abundance, not scarcity, and we are to live in response to that abundance. Jones suggested that we live as ‘functional atheists’; we don’t really trust that God will provide us with all we need.
As I reflect on my own life, I am reminded that I grew up in a home where giving from our first fruits was what I thought was a normal response as a Christian. I don’t recall a great amount of conversation taking place about it in in our home or church but it seemed that giving 1/10th of what we earned was just what Christians do! I can recall Sunday afternoons when my daddy (who was the Church Treasurer) would pull out the offering that had been collected, pull out his ledger pad, open up all the envelopes where folks had deposited their tithes and offerings and he would make sure the gifts were recorded and the deposit prepared for the following morning. I had no idea how much was contained in those envelopes or how faithful the response may have been from the giver, but it was clear that giving to God, and to the Kingdom work that the church is called to do is one mark of faithful discipleship.
I’ve come to realize that all were not brought up this way and have been reminded that to be a faithful giver we must first have learned the basics of faithful discipleship. God loves a cheerful giver! If our methods to encourage generosity are based on shame, we are employing the wrong method.
We need to ask ourselves; Are we asking people to give from their first fruits? Are we casting a vision worth giving to? Are we helping people to be prepared to give by offering them ways to get a better handle on their personal finances? Are we setting the example? If we’ve answered “no” to any of these questions, it’s time to make some changes.
If you would like to print or share this edition of Claire-ification, you are invited to use this pdf: Claire-ification 09.02.2015