Friday, April 3, 2009

Tithe is Money

An incredible Super(Catholic)Blog recently covered a plan to tithe and how to boost your support for the Church.  It was a brilliant move on their part and shows real editorial insight.

One commenter, Ashley, asked a question about other forms of stewardship--time and talent.  (Under "About Me" on her blog is a picture of St. Elisabeth of Portugal.  On the off chance that "Ashley" is a pseudonym for St. Elisabeth, I'm going to treat her question with haste and great respect.)

Personally, I love the idea of tithing your time and talent as well as your treasure.  

Often we give money to causes that we want to support, but otherwise we don't have a great connection to it.  We use those extra envelopes at church to put a few dollars in for causes we may not even understand.  We get one every year for "Black and Indian missions" but I honestly have no idea how that money is used or even where it really goes.

Then there are the myriad of requests that come through the mail--cancer research, homes for the poor, prison outreach, convents and missions, colleges, police benefits, and more.  My email is also home to those requests--every time the Red Cross has an emergency, or the environment (per the environmental folks) is under attack, my email inbox lights up.

But there is a limit for most of us to how many good causes we can support financially.  And it is quick, without a lot of thought required.  An hour a month maybe, if you write the checks and envelopes by hand?

That's where the old phrase, "Time is money", comes into play.
Is it possible to give 10% of your time?  Treat sleep like we do taxes for financial tithing--subtract it out.  (I spend approximately 30 nights a year camping with the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, so maybe I can count sleep!)

Post-sleep (at 8 hours per night) we have 584 hours per year (10% of your waking hours).

I read in a Knights of Columbus article a couple of years ago that the average adult volunteers 42% less than their parents and grandparents did.  That's a lot of time taken away from the betterment of our fellow man.

So, how could you use this time?  584 hours breaks down to 11.25 hours a week.  Out of 168 hours a week, assuming you are well rested, 112 are left.  Subtract 60 hours for work, and we have 52 left.

Now, here is where I cut you a break.

I only want 10% of the 52 hours.  You can even round down.  Call it 5.

How can 5 hours a week help?  Find something you love.  It could be at church or in your community.  Even make up your own project like mowing the yard of the elderly couple next door.  Give blood.  Help a pregnancy center.  Do the low-level grunt work no one else has time for like filing and data entry.  Make dinner for a family in need, or with a new baby, or a recent death.  These are not hard ideas to find.  Any anyone can do it.

The Boy Scouts of America is my passion for service. It is a great example of how something can start small and grow.  I probably spend 10 hours a week now with our parish's Cub Scout pack and Boy Scout troop.  Then there are the campouts and summer camps.  Popcorn fundraising in the fall. Council committees and more.  

I love it. It brings me great feelings of accomplishment that I don't get from my work.  I get to watch--help--young boys grow into men.  

The lasting effect on me is much greater for getting my own hands dirty than just passing along money.

5 hours a week can change the face of your parish, your town and, maybe most importantly, your life.  If you aren't spending 5 hours a week helping others (your immediate family doesn't count), think about stepping up and pitching in.  Ask your priest for ideas, or let him know you are available.  

Think about it:  5 hours of donated plumbing time; 5 hours of Knights of Columbus work; 5 hours of reading aloud to kids at the library; 5 hours of delivering meals; 5 hours of filing at the local animal shelter; 5 hours of sorting clothes at the pregnancy center; 5 hours of making phone calls to help raise money for a new library; or maybe 5 hours of prayer for the rest of us doing the physical work of volunteering.  (Honestly, I'd love to know that someone was praying for 5 hours to support my efforts.)

Please.  We need the help.


  1. I also like the time and talent notion of tithing. You may not have a lot of spare money - raising a family can be expensive - but voluntering time at church - choir, lector, catechist, etc. - and in other worthy activities is a way to contribute.

    I don't recall where I heard it - maybei I said it but it sounds to intelligent for me! - but if we add up the time we put into volunteer and service activities per week, then multiply that by the hourly rate we make at work (or some reasonable approximation) we can put a "value" on our time/talent tithing.

    So say I put in three hours a week, and my pay at work rate is $10 - that's $30 a week, $1,562 a year. If you make $10 dollars an hour, then you make about $20,800 a year. that $1,562 works out to 7.5 percent of your income! If you put in around $500 in the collection plate/Red Cross Kettle/etc. during the year, you've hit 10 percent, the classic tithing amount.

  2. That sounds like a great way to view the problem, too. Certainly if your income is lower or unemployment is in the picture.


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