President’s Perspective: My Favorite Family Story

I learned to tithe at a young age, but it was not through reading the Bible. It was through a story my parents told me over and over, a story about their faith and God’s faithfulness.

Mom and Dad were not raised in church. They were saved shortly after getting married. As young Christians, they grew in their walk with the Lord and began to tithe. Sometime after making that commitment, their new faith was tested. They faced a financial crisis and a difficult choice. If they tithed, they wouldn’t have enough money for the house payment. Not knowing what to do, they prayed. After talking it over, they felt they were supposed to trust the Lord, and tithe.

As admirable as that decision was, that’s not what taught me to tithe. It’s what happened next that fascinated me as a young boy and still does to this day.

Dad had an old homemade utility trailer behind the house that he rarely used. A few days after my parents gave their tithe, someone they had never met knocked on their door. The gentleman told my dad he noticed the old trailer behind our house and was wondering if he would sell it.

I can still remember the twinkle in Dad’s eye as he told me, “I sold it to him, and we had enough money to make our house payment!”

There was something about that firsthand account of God’s faithfulness that convinced me I could trust God, too. That tithing story became an anchor story in our family. I’ve shared it with my kids over the years to teach them that they can and should trust God and tithe, even when it’s hard.

For as long as I can remember, I have tithed. I think it is biblical to do so. However, I didn’t learn that in the Bible — at least not at first. I learned to tithe through the example of James and Mildred Shorter. There is something powerful about hearing your parents tell you a story about God’s faithfulness. You just never forget a story like that.

Every Christian parent has the opportunity to pass their faith on to their kids. Tell them your God stories, and let them see firsthand that God is faithful.

— Keith Shorter is pastor of Mt. Airy Baptist Church in Easley and president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.