This is what my mother taught me that from a young age: Want to know what people value? Look at where they spend their money. Talk all we want to, our values are laid bare in where we spend our money. It's a lesson I learned over and over again from Mom, and one I take to heart at least once a year when I look long and hard at our spending and am once again laid to shame at the degree to which I fall far short of valuing with my money what I say I value with my lips.
Which is one of the reasons why I actually like the end of the year. It's the time I look at our income, make a calculation on what percentage we gave away the previous year and then try to match or best it. Then I look at the organizations I value and figure out how to give away the money to those things that I treasure.
I am not the only one who gets a boost from giving money away. We all know there is a link between money and happiness, but it’s not the link image. Studies show that income is not as tightly connected to happiness as our patterns of spending. Buying material goods gives only a short burst of pleasure, and soon the item is old and we find little joy in it. In contrast, life experiences tend to give us much more lasting joy, and we value them even more highly than the material things we amass. And across all income brackets and cultures as well, we become happier and feel wealthier by giving it away.[i]
So while we are talking stewardship-taking care of the things that matter most-just think of this as a triple win: It's time to be generous, you’ll be happier doing so, and you’ll be taking care of the church when you make a pledge. And Talmadge Hill Community Church is clearly something that brings joy!