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By: Dianne Harper, Past Parent // MDS Musings Blog

Pictured: Dianne taking flight in an air cam built by her son, Matt Tisdale (2006)

I grew up in a Catholic family with three sisters and one brother. We were really Catholic in the early years, not so much later on. I learned charity at home, although I do not remember any verbal lessons, just examples. We put money in the plate on Sunday. As children, we were expected to save part of whatever money we acquired and to give part; so we did, a very little part.

Time and talents were also shared—as Girl Scout leader and Little League coach, through fundraisers at church, and Lion’s Club broom sales. Whatever parents did, kids did. My dad coached baseball so our summers revolved around the ballpark. I learned to count back change so they let me help in the concession stand. We shared our outgrown clothing and toys with a family in need. Things were not put in a box and dropped off at a donation center. We piled in the car and took the things to a family, which was always an eye-opener.

At some point in my teen years, I attended a meeting with my parents on tithing. The message I got was, give to God His due, His share, His ten percent, and He will protect you. I wondered, was this where the Mob got the idea of paying for protection? Evidently, I lacked the maturity to understand the whole story.

Once out on my own, I contributed to some charities, dropped money in the plate whenever I was at a service, but never had enough money. I began attending St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in 1974. Six years later, I started conversations with a dear friend about tithing. She could talk the talk because she walked the walk. “Ten percent off the top,” she said. “It’s the first check.” I could do that I thought—the first check part, not the ten percent. Gradually my donations grew. I wondered if that was ten percent of gross or take-home pay. I kept hearing, “all things come from God” but I thought, no! I earned this money. It’s mine. How did I earn it? Oops, through my God-given talents and ability to work. Okay, maybe it is Yours.

Wrestling with these thoughts and many others over the years has allowed me to practice proportional giving, to keep moving toward the tithe, and to accept “no strings attached” giving.

What have I learned? We are created to nurture and to give. Giving is part of the understanding of being “in God’s image.” Another fact, as I see it, is that humans need discipline or rules to follow. There is comfort and security in knowing the rules, and I consider tithing a biblical rule.

Who gets your first check? Financial priorities are demonstrated when we sit down to pay bills—to portion out our incomes—each month. Who gets the first check? Savings? Housing? Food? Entertainment? Or giving back? Sharing. When God gets the first check, His work is your priority. For me, when that does not happen, worry and doubt begin again.

Waiting to give until you can afford to is like waiting to have children until you can afford them. You cannot afford to not give. God blesses us daily with opportunities. Share your time, your talent, your treasure. Take advantage of opportunities. As you share, you grow. Let’s grow together.

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Mount de Sales Academy is a private Catholic school located in Macon, GA, and serves students in Bibb, Houston, Jones, Monroe, Peach and other surrounding counties. MDS is sponsored and inspired by the Sisters of Mercy. Since 1876, MDS has served a diverse college-preparatory community of learners—students and teachers alike—who are poised to discover, challenged to innovate, and motivated to serve.