Why Do I Give? And why does it Matter? – An Introduction

Hi! My name is Timothy and this is my wife Allison.

Hi! My name is Timothy and this is my wife Allison.

Recently I accepted the position of Communications Associate for the Ecumenical Stewardship Center. I’m a member of the millennial generation:  I’m a late 20-something who is happily married and currently living in Minnesota, though my wife Allison and I are both originally from the Seattle area. I hold a bachelor’s degree in economics and religion and master’s degrees in Management and Congregational Mission and Leadership. I have a passion for where these areas intersect, especially around stewardship and thinking about what it means to love your neighbor as yourself.

In addition, I provide consulting for congregations and non-profits regarding mission, vision, values and stewardship. I also write for a number of ministry and leadership blogs and maintain my own blog. I like asking and thinking about big questions, and enjoying conversation around them.

My educational and vocational interests may make it obvious as to why I give. But I think it’s important for me to say, and for you to know, that I give because I want to. My giving is a response. If I feel moved or see a need in the world, my usual response is, “what can I do to help?” My response is often a financial contribution–admittedly, not as much as I would like to give—but as much as I can give at this time based on my current financial circumstances. Sometimes I also give through volunteering to serve in some capacity.

Each generation faces unique circumstances related to giving. Some literature suggests that persons of older generations often give because of a sense of obligation and duty. Millennials face challenges such as growing student debt, entering the workforce amid uncertain economic situations, and a rate of change in life and society that continually seems to speed up. Similar to these challenges, my wife and I are not yet at a place where we can consistently tithe. We regularly contribute offerings, but are not yet financially stable enough to regularly give 10% (or more) of our income. This bothers us because we want to give so much more than 10%. As more opportunities emerge, we have steadily worked to increase our giving, and once we get to that 10% threshold we aren’t going to stop there. It’s too much fun to give and support others.

Fiscal responsibility is another important part of our covenant to each other, including giving and saving. The day we can give more of our income to our congregation and in service of our neighbor than we are paying on our student loans will be a day of great celebration! Until then, we will continue to give what we can and work to grow as stewards.

Baptism 4.19.87

Being held by my parents while being baptized (many years ago).

Why does my giving matter? I give because I want to, but my giving is more than just about me. It’s about something bigger than myself. I see this as being part of God’s work, and the larger community of creation. My giving is grounded in my particular understanding of the gospel. I believe that we are given the free gift of life and grace through Jesus, a gift we can never earn or deserve. This for me is the Good News. God gives us this gift, in spite of what we do, because we are created and loved Children of God.  I can’t do anything but want to respond to this joyful good news through the way I live my life, serve my neighbor and give freely of that which God has entrusted me. I give because I want to share the love and joy that I feel, and because I am called to be a part of God’s work in the world- giving my own time and/or financial support to a congregation, the larger church, or a non-profit responding to some of the major needs in the world.

My new role includes serving as communications coordinator for the Ecumenical Stewardship Center COMPASS Initiative, which especially invites young adults to dialog about “Why do I give?” and “What does it matter?” As a young adult myself, in the months ahead you can trust that I speak authentically about these topics and others related to navigating faith and finances.

That’s more than enough of an introduction. I am interested in your responses about why you give and why it matters. Join the conversation here on the blog, the COMPASS website, and on our Facebook page. I look forward to our conversation and journey together in thinking about finances and stewardship.

-Timothy Siburg

For more on Timothy Siburg, visit his blog and follow him on Twitter.