My wife and I have not always been able to give to the church regularly. For a time there while I was in graduate school and for several years afterward, we found it very difficult. We were, like many people in this country, living well beyond our means. Each month we added to our debt which included student loans, car loans, and credit cards.
Then, a member of our family gave us a copy of a book by Dave Ramsey that lays out a set of principles on how to budget your money and encourages you to decide in advance where you spend your money rather than just looking back at where it all went. So we laid out a budget and came to realize that we had an abundance where we once thought there was a scarcity. For the first time since we were married, we were able to make a pledge to the Church.
Having both grown up with parents who were members of the clergy, we understood the importance of pledging to the church budgeting process, but found that at this moment our desire to pledge came not out of a sense of responsibility or obligation, but from a place of joy and gratitude for all that we have. That first pledge started at a simple 2% of our rather meager income and has grown to 7% in the years following. We are hopeful that in a few more years we can reach a full 10% of our income.
Each year that we sit down to fill out our pledge card, we start by reflecting on all the blessings we have in our lives, and then ask ourselves how can we share these blessings with others and give back to God with joy and gratitude.