Nothing can replace authenticity, and everyone can tell when it’s missing. When pastors share their own journey toward generosity, their congregations tend to follow their lead. One pastor we worked with led a large suburban congregation. His income level was typical for a pastor, far from extravagant, and his children were just beginning to look at colleges—an additional expense. Yet, he felt led by God to commit to giving away an additional 20% of his income for the next three years. Taking into account that he was already giving away 12% of his income, this meant he was committing to give away 32% of his salary for 3 years. After hearing of his commitment, a wealthy individual made a decision to commit the largest single gift that church had ever received. When asked why, he said simply, “Pastor, I give because you give.”
If you have been through a capital campaign you know that the success or failure of the campaign frequently comes down to the leadership phase, when the most committed members of the church make their commitment in front of the entire congregation, hoping to inspire the average person to move to a new level of generosity. As the leadership phase of a campaign builds, having a pastor share his own story of generosity can impact whether or not other leaders will follow. When a pastor talks freely about his personal struggle with money and invites others to join him on a journey toward generosity, people aren’t looking to stone him. Instead his story serves as an invitation to others to join him on the journey of becoming a generous person.
If generosity is a struggle for you in your personal life, we invite you to consider using your position of influence to allow your own story of generosity growth to impact the habits of the people you lead. There are certain things that only a pastor can say and do. Some people believe that only a pastor has the credibility to speak into their lives on such a sensitive subject. But the primary reason why pastors need to lead in this area is because Jesus led in this area. The position of the pastor is representative of Christ’s own leadership of the church. Because Jesus carefully and regularly revisited the conversation about the relationship between our faith and our money, pastors should do so, as well.
This blog was an excerpt of the FREE eBook Accelerating Generosity: How to create a culture of Giving in your Church or Ministry. Download the FULL version HERE.