One of the things I’ve noticed about being in a ministry family is that members of the church will often do things for us without charging us. Sometimes it’s a simple thing, like giving us a gift for no apparent reason. Sometimes it’s a discount on things, like the dentist knocking off a percentage of what we owed for my root canal or the furniture store in Buffalo that sold us a television armoire at cost. Still other times, the cost savings are enormous. For example, at our last church we had a contractor who made several repairs to our home and only charge us for the materials he used. A married couple who owned a golf course gave my husband free membership. And we have had not one but two chiropractors over the years who refused to charge us anything out of pocket.
It’s something I appreciate, believe me. Most professionals with the level of education my husband has tend to make a lot more money, and having people do this kind of thing for us helps to fill the gap, especially since neither of us are very handy (it’s why we bought a townhouse here). But I sometimes think that these kinds of gifts would better serve people who are in much greater need than we are. We could do without some luxuries and pay for those things out of pocket, but there are many who just can’t afford them.
It’s something I started to think about when I worked for a Christian social work-type agency. There are a lot of people living in poverty, and if there were more church members who were willing to give to those in need out of a love for Christ, it might make a difference in their lives.
Now, I realize that the reason people do this for us is also out of a love for Christ, and they want to do something to show they appreciate the service my husband is doing for them. I am always grateful for that. But it’s hard to not feel guilty when it’s something we don’t ultimately need but others truly do. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I get to tell others how to give or who to give things to. It gives me more motivation to give to those in need when I can, because we have been so blessed. You know, paying it forward (as cliched as that sounds).