Grow in the grace of giving

The love of Christ compels us in everything we do. That’s also true in the way we use our financial resources. 

John A. Braun 

Their five children are on their own. Brett and Karen Voigt are empty nesters. Their children carry the faith in Jesus into their own lives. “It is important to us that we see them get their lives off to a good start,” says Brett. The children all had the benefit of Christian education. During their high school and college years they attended a number of different schools—St. Croix Lutheran High School, Luther Preparatory School, Martin Luther College, and Bethany Lutheran College.  

At a time when Christian faith is sometimes challenged and ridiculed, all of their children had their faith strengthened at these Christian schools. As parents, Brett and Karen paid the bills for their children’s high school education and were grateful for the influence that helped mold them. The financial aid they received from the schools was also important. They wished they could have done more than pay the educational expenses for their own children. When requests came for special offerings, they just weren’t in a position to help.  

Changes 

Their financial position changed when Brett’s father passed away. He had paid the cost of Brett’s education to be a pastor and then left the Voigts with a substantial inheritance. As a brick layer, he had taken care of his financial resources. Brett said, “I came to realize how carefully he had everything taken care of.”  

There was another change—an unwelcome change. Brett was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. It has posed a series of challenges to his work as a pastor. “I can only stand for a certain amount of time; I use a stool when I preach and a walker when I conduct the liturgy,” says Brett. He has had to transition to part-time ministry. The congregation and his associate at St. Paul, Menomonie, Wis., have adjusted to the challenges “better than I could have expected,” he says. 

It hasn’t been easy for him. “I’m seeing my limitations,” he says. “I think I’m stronger than I actually am. It’s hard for me to think I can’t do what I used to do.” He makes hospital calls using a walker now. Karen has found that she must remind him that he needs to slow down. 

Gifts 

With all these life changes, it was time to look at their financial situation. The time had come for them to review their will. The children were on their own, and their financial situation was different. Naturally the inheritance had to be part of that review.  

After meeting with a Christian giving counselor, they chose to give back to WELS and the schools that had nurtured their children.  

“Why now? Didn’t you need the resources for your own situation?” I asked.  

Brett calmly said, “I have the resources now, and I don’t know what lies ahead for me or for anyone else.”  

That’s an expression of faith in the Lord’s care. I thought of the words of Jesus, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26). 

“It was a way to say thanks to the schools for the great blessings our children received when they went to those schools. Their faith was strengthened.” Brett clarified. “These gifts will be used to help other students get a Christian education and give them a solid faith. I have been blessed to see my children receive Christian training, and I hope others will be blessed to see their own children receive it too. We want to help others so their children will also grow up to be active Christians and leaders in their own congregations. Not everyone can be a pastor or teacher. None of our children have chosen to be pastors or teachers. I have an eye to laypeople. I don’t come from a pastor’s family. The kingdom of God takes more than pastors. Our prayer is that our gifts will go to help make leaders in the church.” 

Karen added, “We also want to help provide for the next generation of pastors and teachers, so some of our gift are directed to those who want to pursue public ministry. We need them too. For us, it is important that the church have dedicated Christians and lay leaders as well as pastors and teachers.” 

Both have grown in the grace of giving. They understand the resources they have are gifts of God’s grace. They also know and love their Savior who gave his life to redeem them and grant them eternal life. No matter what circumstances they encounter in the future, the Lord’s care will not cease. Their Savior has provided for their future beyond this life. For them the grace of giving means the blessing and joy to help others. They want to give back in a way that helps others benefit from a Christian education just as they have been blessed. 

Lessons 

What lesson should we ponder from this story? Brett put it in the form of a series of questions, “Why did God put me in this place at this time? It is not a question asking ‘Why me? Why do I have these troubles?’ Instead it’s a question meant for us to consider our opportunities. Why did God put me here? Why do I have these gifts and these troubles? How can I encourage, build up, and strengthen others?” 

The Voigts found an answer that was good for them. Not everyone will answer the questions in the same way. All of us can find our own opportunities to encourage the next generation and be supportive of others. The Lord has placed different opportunities before us all. It may be supporting our own families. It also may be broader than our own circumstances. It may be an opportunity to support our own congregations and schools. The Lord may also open doors for us to support mission work in our synod.  

Brett reminds us all, “Rejoice in the blessings God has provided to you. Ponder the goals the Lord has for you to use those blessings.”  

Karen agrees. “We all have ways to encourage the next generation and support others.” 


John A. Braun is the executive editor of Forward in Christ.


 Want to explore further how you can use your financial resources to support your congregation, WELS schools, or the synod in sharing the gospel throughout the country and the world? Learn more at wels.net/christian-giving or by contacting the Ministry of Christian Giving at mcg@wels.net; 1-800-827-5482.  


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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 105, Number 9
Issue: September 2018

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