Dear SOTV Youth,
When I was about your age (the teen years), I recall being told by a good friend of mine that I was now establishing some habits that would stay with me for the rest of my life. As I have grown older, I have come to understand the wisdom of his words. And one of the "habits" of which he spoke had to do with giving, sharing, and generosity. I am writing to you today to encourage you to develop this good habit now and keep it all the days of your life.
The Bible makes it clear that you and I (no matter what our age my be) are to return to God each week a portion of what he has first given to us. The Bible makes it clear that you and I really own nothing. We enter this world with nothing and we leave it with nothing. (I Timothy 6:7) It all belongs to God. "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof." (Psalm 19) But what you and I do between birth and death with the gifts that God has "loaned" to us is of vital importance.
Now I can hear some of you saying, "Pastor, why are you writing to us teens, we don't have any money." I disagree. Recently I heard in Newsweek (July 16 issue, p.60) magazine that in the year 2000, American teens spent over $155 billion dollars on two items: clothing and entertainment. In fact, this was the largest share of what is known as "discretionary spending" in the entire American economy! It could be argued that young people today have more expendable income than any other age group in our economy.
So it is without apology that I am asking you all to begin a marvelous habit if you have not yet done so. I am asking you to fill out the enclosed pledge card and then to faithfully and diligently return that amount to your church each week from now on. And I can tell you this: God will bless you for your faithfulness. And you will also be doing yourself a big favor. Whenever we give to others, we win a small victory over that terrible enemy of all human beings: our own self-centeredness.
I want to share a true story. Some weeks ago a teen from our church came home with a pay check in the amount of $406.00. (His mother told me this story and I have asked for permission to share it with you though I will not reveal his identity). The teen then asked his mother to deposit the check but to retain $40.60. The mother was curious about this odd amount and asked what it was for. At first the teen didn't want to say what it was for. But when she asked again, he quietly confided that he wanted to begin tithing his income to the church. In other words, he wants to return to God 10% of all that he earns. This story warmed my heart, not because of the money itself, but because of the strong faith this action revealed in the life of this young man.
Please pray about this matter. Talk with your parents about it also. Fill out the card with an amount that you feel good about and then return it to the church. Mail it in or place it in the offering plate the next time you worship with us. Faith in God and good stewardship go hand-in-hand. Let this be a time of commitment and enrichment for your young life. Make a pledge and start a great habit that will serve you for the rest of your life.
And thank you for all the goodwill, support, and encouragement you give to the church of Jesus Christ. This work is more vital than any of us may ever know. Working in the Kingdom of God is the most significant work anyone can ever do. Join us today with your prayer, your pledge, your love, and youthful vitality. We need you and we thank God for you!
I hope you are having a good school year. See you at worship soon.
Your friend in Christ,
Pastor Paul Harrington
P.S.- If you want your own box of offering envelopes, just let us know here at the office.
P.S.- I want to personally thank so many of you who consistently invite your friends to our church. Your enthusiasm for the gospel of Jesus Christ is evident to so many. Thanks for being great missionaries!
Pastor Paul Harrington, Luther Seminary Campus Pastor.
Image credit: © Ignacio García Losa (ignaciogarcialosa.com) via Flickr. Used by permission.