By Jeff Hedrick
I spent most of my life consumed by working hard to ensure I had enough for my future. Looking back, I don’t believe this was out of a sense of greed, but rather the fear that comes from relying solely on myself. So, five years ago, I left my job in the corporate world and began working for Acts 2 as the Business Administrator. At the age of fifty-four, my plan was to give back by working for a church or non-profit and earn enough to sustain myself until I was ready to retire.
After spending some thirty-two years in the corporate world, I was able to generate a comfortable lifestyle and even some wealth. My wife Teresa and I had been members at Acts 2 for about four years. During that time, through meaningful worship, Disciple Bible Study, and relationships with our small group, God repeatedly spoke to me regarding the principal of having enough.
Enough is a relative term, which I believe is largely dependent upon one’s understanding of and relationship with God. Enough is a spiritual matter and different for each of us. In my case, God spoke in a way that led me to understand that I had been blessed with enough, and true gratitude involved honoring God by returning some of the blessing that had been given to me.
As I was reminded in one of our Children’s Church lessons, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of the heavenly lights” (James 1:17, NIV). What I have is purely a gift from God, and every good gift deserves a thoughtful response. These gifts are not mine to own, but mine to steward in a way that honors God and demonstrates my gratitude.
When I think about gratitude, I am reminded of those things of greatest value to me: family, friends, faith, a home, a job, some wealth, and leisure. These are things that I possess and are important to me. My list is likely not too far from the list of things that my circle of friends would be grateful for as well. Indeed, I am grateful for what I have. God has already given me more than enough.
God continues to speak, and I continue to listen. About a year ago, God disclosed to me that if I really had determined that I had enough five years ago, that amount might just be enough ten years from now, too. So, I have embarked on what I am calling “the Great Experiment.” The premise of my experiment is that from the future earnings of my retirement savings, I can give God the entire current value of my savings and, at the end of the ten years, still have the current value of my retirement savings. Simply stated, my plan is that the earnings on my retirement will replenish what I give away.
After a season of prayerful consideration, with the support of Teresa, I committed to a “4 the Kids” pledge in the amount of three years of my current salary. I’m glad to report that last week I gave the first installment of the pledge from earnings on retirement savings. I’m even happier to report that my retirement savings balance remains higher than it was at the beginning of the experiment.
Since leaving my corporate job, I have never looked back. I don’t miss the income, and I am immeasurably blessed to be employed in the work of God’s kingdom every day. Only time will tell if the “the Great Experiment” can be accomplished, but this I know: generosity is my response of gratitude for what God has given me. I will trust God to provide me with enough, knowing that, as I have recently read, “Gratitude makes what you have enough.”