Shepherd Story: Connection to Our Beliefs
CONNECTION TO OUR BELIEFS
For a long time, I thought of my stewardship pledge as an obligation. It was something that I had to do, not something I wanted to do. But then as my time at Good Shepherd unfolded, my pledge became the way I became truly connected to our parish, to the congregation here and to my faith.
When I arrived at Good Shepherd 18 years ago, I attended the 8:00a service. I am an early riser and this meant I could get to church and still be on my bike for a decent bike ride by 9:00a. As a Dell employee, my stewardship pledge was matched 100% by Dell and automatically deducted from my paycheck. I helped out on clean-up day and made palm crosses for Palm Sunday. I was checking all the boxes – worship, stewardship, service. While factually true, I knew that there was large gap between the effort I was making and my best effort.
I might have attended church 30% of the time. My stewardship pledge was only a good effort because it was matched by Dell. Clean-up days and palm crosses were three half days of service out of 365 days – and I could probably only name only five other parishioners. I knew I could do better and wanted to do better. I wanted to be connected to the church in a way that my box-checking approach didn’t support.
When I decided to use my pledge as a way to increase my Sunday attendance, I didn’t expect that plan to have a much larger impact on my relationship to Good Shepherd and to God. I chose my pledge amount and divided by 20. My pledge was no longer automatically deducted from my paycheck, so I reasoned that if I attended church a little more than a third of the Sundays in the year, I could write a manageable check each time and not owe any money at the end of the year. The plan worked.
The following year, I increased my pledge a little which meant that I had to attend church half of the Sundays during the year. Every year I followed the same approach. As I attended more services, I got involved in more formation opportunities, I met more people and I cared more deeply about Good Shepherd. Turns out that Matthew was right, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
Now my pledge to Good Shepherd is not an obligation. It is an opportunity to grow my faith and my service while increasing my connection to the Good Shepherd congregation. I hope your gift brings you the same joy.