Irving, Texas


This is Canon Victoria’s letter in our weekly Parish News email.  To sign up for our newsletter, please visit: Constant Contact. To see the full weekly Parish News email from Nov 17th, please visit:

        I grew up unchurched, and read my way into faith in Christ through C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. In high school, I went to Mass in a Roman Catholic church nearby on weekdays.   If I heard a sermon about money, I don’t remember it.  Once in a while I put a dollar in the plate.  At nineteen I had a call to be a priest. At twenty-one I was baptized.  At twenty-two I went to seminary.  No one ever talked about money in seminary.  My home parish talked about money once a year. The senior warden would stand up, present the budget, and urge everyone to give “a fair share.”  The second year I heard the pitch, I pledged $200. I thought that was generous; I was young and waitressing to pay my bills.
          The year I was ordained a deacon, in my first church, October arrived. The rector told me that I would do the preaching on stewardship; “it would be good for you.” I sighed.  I opened my Bible and concordances.  I read about tithing in Deuteronomy, and thought, “Well, that is the Old Testament.”  I skipped over the prophets and advanced to the gospels where I found that the Lord Jesus talked about money a lot.  He warned that I could not serve God and money. He said that not sharing one’s riches destroys the soul.  I flipped forward, hoping St. Paul was more reasonable. St. Paul said that giving came from gratitude and talked about giving sacrificially with joy. I winced.  I gave from guilt, as little as I could.  How could I preach about stewardship and generosity while I giving God less than 1% of my income?  I was a hypocrite.  I stepped into the pulpit and admitted that I did not tithe. I said that giving back to God 10% of my income seemed to be the direction of the Old Testament and the assumption from where a Christian starts in the New.  I still quivered at the idea of giving more than 10%.
          That year, I quadrupled my pledge. It turned out I could give more than $1000 a year and like it. It was not even 5%, but it was a start toward proportional giving. It took years before I managed to give 10% of my income.  Learning the discipline of stewardship, I began to want to make “God’s kingdom come” into the world with my thanks to Him. I wanted to give to my parish and to the wider world. I do both now. Giving 10% helps me to be freer as a follower of Christ.  I don’t miss it nor wish I gave less.
          I have lots of boxes in the garage. God and my husband seem united in asking me to get rid of them.  I am cautious. I might need them someday. There is nothing about cardboard boxes in the Scriptures.
–Victoria Heard

One Comment

  1. The hoarder gene in me is alive and well, I’m sad to say, whether we’re talking about those boxes in our garage and “spare room,” sentimental memorabilia from 5 generations of two families, or the precious income I’ve managed to accrue over five decades of hard work and calculated risks as a teacher, writer, legislative staffer, and college administrator. Tithing+ has come with great personal resistance, even pain, over the past three decades, in particular, as single parenthood dominated my economic planning, such as it has been. Were it not for the Federal income tax deduction for charitable giving, I am embarrassed to admit that I would probably still have problems “finding a way” to tithe+. Along my fitful giving journey, though, the truth has become clearer to me that “the way” is not the point. THE Way is. The more closely I follow that voice of Jesus and The Holy Spirit, tithing+ not only becomes possible, it becomes natural and joyful. In fact, the joy-reaping part makes me feel so good, I usually wonder if I’m giving enough. “Give until it hurts” no longer works so well as a guiding slogan; “give until it feels GREAT” seems more the theme. So I keep praying to approach the right “balance” between being financially and psychosocially responsible and living generously as the giver of my money, time, energy, and creativity that God expects me to be. Every day that Divine Kaleidoscope shifts a bit into a different design, always beautiful, always surprising, always requiring something different of me. The trick for me is to keep watching . . . and listening . . . and praying for opportunities to give and to grow. God has brought me and my family through so many impossible “snags and snares.” I cannot ever repay those blessings. I can always, though, grow in giving.

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