Giving Story | Focus on Giving First

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Every Friday I try to feature a giving story here at MH4C.  If you’d like to submit a giving story, you can contact me.

Today’s story is from an MH4C reader, WS.

When I left the Navy and went to work in with my current company, I took a 20% pay cut. My wife and I had expected this, it was a career change and I wanted a job with less travel (we didn’t like being separated for 6 months at a time).

A side note here, as a Naval Flight Officer, my flight pay increased dramatically ($400 per month) 2 years before I was eligible to leave the Navy. The last 2-3 years in the Navy my pay went up significantly. Many of my peers spent their pay raise on car payments or other obligations. Making the decision to leave the Navy very difficult.

We were able to weather the pay cut after leaving the Navy, but our error was our level of giving. We naturally reduced the amount we were giving, but we also reduced the percentage of income we were giving. We fully intended to increase our percentage back to the 10% level when my income rose.  I would share the rationale we used to justify this change, but why?   The rationale was wrong, so no need to share it.

For the first few years with my company, I worked hard to get my salary back to the level it was in the Navy. While my salary increased the first 2-3 years, I didn’t get back to the amount I earned in the Navy. I was focusing on what I could do at work to get my income back to where it had been, but I wasn’t getting there.

One weekend while visiting my parents, the minister preached an effective sermon on giving. I realized I was contributing more to my 401k than I was to God.

My wife and I resolved we were going to return our giving to where it should be. We couldn’t do it overnight (we had a mortgage and car payment), but we started cutting expenses and giving more to others wherever we could.

Less than a year later, my company announced a pay freeze. My boss received some funds he could use to provide raises and retention bonuses to key employees, and I was fortunate enough to be selected. This raise put me above the mark I had been trying to get to before.

Ever since then, we have been careful not to worry about salary (I still ask my boss for raise occasionally, but I don’t worry about it), but to focus more on where we can give. Since our change in attitude, my salary has grown significantly, always staying ahead of our needs.

Very recently, our congregation had a special collection for benevolence. The collection was about 2 weeks prior to the time I would learn what my bonus was for the year. My wife asked if we could afford to give $xyz. When I responded, “it depends on my bonus…..” She reminded me of our focus on giving first and then worrying about income. We gave the $xyz and my bonus was significantly more (20X) than the amount we gave.

While I can’t promise to others to worry more about giving and your salary will increase, I can say for us the re-alignment of priorities helped tremendously. We also understand the salary could decrease as fast (or faster) than it increased. Whatever happens, we intend to focus on opportunities to give and share our blessings.

It’s amazing to hear stories like this because in the midst of all our concern about income, God is quietly working out all the details!

Have a blessed weekend.


  1. says

    An older fraternity brother of mine told me to give all that I could into the fraternity and in return, you will receive more than you could ever possibly image. Great article!

  2. says

    Very Interesting, and I’m not surprised. I would like to metion though, that sometimes it doesn’t work like that…right away. But, yes, God is faithful; always. I get surprised in hindsight–after the fact. I give my 10% and then the month looks like it will be close to zero or even red and I start to complain, “Why am I not ahead God? I am being faithful!” But then I look back and everything is taken care of, even 401(k) and savings. My cup runneth over, He prepares a table for me in the presence of my enemies.

    • says

      You’re right that not all of us can expect the same results in the same fashion. That is the mystery of the Christian life. God is working even when we don’t fully understand what he is doing.

      Thanks for your comment.

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