Building Trust in Giving

06/24/2017 .
Diane Calcaterra  .  Volunteer Storyteller

Over three years ago, the ripple effect of a collapsing marriage and resulting divorce caused Mike Neal to try something he’d never done before: fully trust God with his priorities. Mike believed in God, but when it came to following and trusting, Mike struggled. After the divorce, Mike realized his life needed some rebuilding and he took stock of how he’d like to change. He wanted his faith to grow, but didn’t know how to take a step forward. He didn’t realize that God would choose the object the closest to him to help build that trust.

Mike owned a small business and money had always been a driving factor for his success. But because of the divorce, child support and other payments were subtracted from his bottom line. “Financially, my divorce was costly,” Mike said. “Money was always tight, but after the divorce it felt even worse.”

While attending a service at Saddleback Church, Mike felt he needed to renew his commitment to God and take a step toward trusting him more. “Rick talked about giving whatever it is you need more of,” remembers Mike. “If you need more of something, give more of that – whether it’s time or money.” Although Mike had heard that same message before, this time it resonated deep within. He knew following Pastor Rick’s advice would feel costly, but he felt inspired to act. “I was touched by Rick’s message and thought I’d give it a try. I wanted to learn to trust that God would provide.”

Shortly after that Sunday service, Mike made a new commitment to regularly give at least 10 percent of his income. “I was scared,” Mike admitted. “But I began writing out my check each week at the end of the service. It was important for me to have a tangible, physical offering. There’s something about sitting down to write that check and dropping it in the basket. I guess it’s because I can actually see that money before I give it away.”

“As I consistently set that money aside, it became really easy,” Mike said. “I was able to give, pay my bills, and save more money, too. I thought I would have less money, because my expenses had gone up, but financially, I had never felt more secure. It’s really amazing how it all worked out. God’s promise to provide turned out to be true.”

Mike has used his experience to teach his 12-year-old daughter about finances. Through his giving example, Mike’s daughter has learned the importance of handling her own money. “She sets aside her giving and savings money first,” said Mike. “Then she can use whatever is left over for fun or personal spending. I want her to understand how saving and spending is supposed to work.”

“Now that my mindset has changed, I have this peace and confidence knowing that no matter what happens it will be okay. I used to rely on myself to fix all my problems, whatever they were. And most of the time I wouldn’t put it in God’s hands. Now I know I can’t make changes without God’s help.” Mike has witness God blessing his life as he’s learned to trust more fully in God’s plan. Even though he began this journey through a divorce, Mike recently became engaged and is looking forward to the next season of his life with his fiance.

As Mike continues to grow his faith, he has been learning to give time as well. “I want to get involved in ministry to serve the local community,” Mike explained. “Before I was afraid to give up control of money, now I struggle with time. I know that’s where God is leading me, and I know he’ll help me get there. What God has proven to me through financial giving can be applied to all areas of my life.”

Time is precious and always in demand, but Mike feels more comfortable following God’s lead, now more than ever before. When Mike reflects on the message he heard three years ago, he’s excited to stretch his faith muscles again and give away exactly what he needs more. “Whatever you need more of, just give it away,” said Mike. “I’m excited, but anxious, about taking that next step.”

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