What would you do if someone handed you a “secret” checkbook for an account filled with money?
I was about twenty-eight when it happened to me. I was pastoring my first church in Texas. John Saville was the chairman of our board of elders and in his early seventies at the time. To be honest, I thought he was a little kooky. I was both surprised and intrigued when he took me aside one day and said he wanted to “cut a deal.”
He handed me a checkbook for a discretionary account with a balance of $5,000.
“Here’s the deal,” John said. “God’s given me the desire and resources to help people, but I need you to be my eyes, my ears and my heart. Whenever you see a need that you think I would be excited about and could meet, I want you to use this money. Don’t tell anyone where it came from. Just take care of it and tell them that God paid it.”
I was shocked and sort of overwhelmed. At first I felt a lot of pressure about it – what if I chose to spend the money on the wrong things? After a while though, it got to be fun. All of a sudden, I felt like Santa Claus 365 days a year. I had hidden resources at my discretion and was constantly asking God how to use them.
As a result of this deal, three major things happened in my life:
- Rarely did a day go by that I didn’t think about John. I was constantly asking myself, “What would John want me to do?” I’d known John for over a year but until our secret “deal” I’d never thought about him every day.
- I suddenly had a heightened sense of accountability and kept meticulous records. Back then I wouldn’t typically sweat being a little “off” in my own personal checkbook, but that wasn’t acceptable when it came to John’s. He’d trusted me, and I wanted to be worthy of that trust.
- John and I became best friends. I sought John out to understand his heart so that I would know how to use his money. Every few months John would buy me extravagant lunches and I would share stories about how people’s lives had been touched by his generosity. After we celebrated, he’d fill that account right back up and we’d do it all over again.
The genius of the relationship that I enjoyed with John Saville revealed a breakthrough concept that completely changed my thinking: God owns everything and has entrusted me as His resource manager.
What I experienced with John is exactly what God wants to experience with us. Learn to manage your money, time and talent based on God’s desires instead of your own and the same things happen: We begin to think about God every day. We take time to seek God out to learn how he would want his resources used. In the process, we are drawn closer to God and come to truly know him.
Many of us think of generosity as a “have to” – a necessary but unappealing aspect of the Christian life. True generosity isn’t rooted in guilt, self-righteousness or a martyr complex. It’s rooted in joy. It’s genius because it’s the smartest, most fulfilling way to live.
This week we’ll begin the series “The Genius of Generosity.” In it, we’ll examine the many ways to invest in God’s kingdom and the transformational results of doing so. Whether you listen online or host a group study, I pray that you’ll come to understand God’s design for generous living.
Keep Pressin’ Ahead,
Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip