I was trained as a pastor and enjoyed pastoral ministry. In 2000, I was appointed a district superintendent in The Wesleyan Church and continued in the role until my recent retirement.
Practice: Extravagant Generosity.
Matthew 6:1-4, “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they received their reward in full. But, when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Richard was a member of our medium-sized congregation. Richard worked in a local factory, and he and his wife did not live an extravagant lifestyle. I doubt that Richard ever enjoyed a new pickup truck.
Richard had a speech impediment, but he faithfully attended church with a positive, pleasant and quiet attitude.
Soon after Richard retired from the factory, our growing church faced a transition in janitorial care. Because the church was experiencing financial pressures, teams of volunteers had been organized to care for the property while the church grew in its outreach to community people, including troubled youth and children. The carpets regularly sustained coffee spills. The walls were marked with handprints and pencils. Cigarette butts were constantly appearing near the church entrance. New scuff marks regularly appeared on the tile floors. And, the restrooms required constant attention.
One morning Richard road his bicycle several miles to the church to see me. In his halting voice he said, “I-I-I want to clean the church.” Thinking he wanted to take on a task that day, I began to take him to janitorial closet. But he stopped me, “No—I want to do it always.” I told Richard that we could not pay him much and the job was very demanding. He had no prior janitorial experience, but I saw a kind, generous man in Richard.
Richard daily arrived at the church by bicycle or his old pickup truck before 6 am. When I arrived an hour or so later, I often saw him on his hands and knees scrubbing heal marks, removing coffee stains and gathering cigarette butts from the night before. Our church hosted massive crowds on special occasions, yet the building was always clean and presentable. Day after day, year after year, I do not recall a single complaint from Richard. Numbers of people came and went from the church, and they barely noticed him.
Often, I saw Richard in worship when the sanctuary was teeming with new faces. Tears were in his eyes as he looked over the crowds and participated as he was able. Years later, I asked Richard why he was doing this. His response, “It-It-It is a privilege to prepare the House of the Lord for worship.”
Question: In what ways is the Holy Spirit nudging you to give generously in our church and community?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to respond to needs around me in ways that go beyond the usual or expected. Use me however You choose, and may You get the credit. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.