This is going to sound strange, but hang with me: The best way to handle unplanned giving opportunities is to plan for them.
Now, I know that sounds like a contradiction, but it’s not. It’s simply a matter of budgeting—and it’s how Holly and I have operated since the early days of our marriage.
In 2000, right after we realized all our Y2K fears didn’t hold water, we walked into the bank together and created a “kingdom fund.” The idea was to set money aside that would allow us to give above and beyond our tithe each month. We transferred $300 to jump-start this new account, and it’s turned out to be one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.
If nothing else, our kingdom fund has become one of our biggest sources of joy. It’s a great resource for those times when we’re moved by the Spirit to give spontaneously. It also challenges us to be good stewards by carefully evaluating opportunities that come our way.
But let’s face it—not every chance to give comes from the Holy Spirit. Sometimes, we might give just to feed a desire to feel accepted, admired or important. In other words, we give to feed our pride. That’s dangerous. So, while we’re never more like Jesus than when we give, we’ve got to discern the Spirit’s leading and avoid that earthly urge to make ourselves look good.
Once we've discerned the Spirit’s lead, our next step is identifying how an opportunity fits into our long-term goals and plans. Again, our budget really helps with this. If the situation fits our goals and core values, we give as generously as possible.
So, in practical terms, here’s what this looks like for Holly and me: Every month we agree on an amount and set it aside in our kingdom fund. Then, we talk about every giving opportunity that arises.
We’ve had so much fun working together to be better stewards of God’s money and to find ways our money can have the biggest impact possible.
Agreeing ahead of time on what we’re setting aside—on how we will use it—gives us an incredible sense of freedom. It also removes a lot of the anxiety that could wear us down or create fear. As a bonus, it makes us more intentional about looking for ways to use this money for God’s glory.
From our perspective, it doesn’t matter if we overhear a couple in a restaurant talking about a need or we have a family member who is struggling during a difficult season of life. In every situation, we know where we’ve drawn the line and we have a lot of fun being creative with our giving.
Now, I need to repeat one thing to make sure it’s absolutely clear. We firmly believe that the first 10% goes to the church as a tithe (Malachi 3:10). The kingdom fund goes above and beyond the tithe. It’s for extra generosity, and it provides a shot of joy that only comes from using God’s resources for God’s glory.
You’ve heard it before, but giving really is the most fun you can have with money. But to be a good steward, you have to put yourself in a solid place so you can budget more and more for generosity. And that means planning for the unplanned.
After all, being intentioned for giving can’t happen unless we're positioned for giving. So, plan your spontaneous giving carefully.