Bob Russell tells a story about a mutual friend we have named Howard Brammer. Howard ministered at Traders Point Christian Church in Indianapolis for over 25 years before retiring several years ago. Howard and a group of board members from a ministry organization went out to eat at a local Indianapolis restaurant after their annual meeting. Following the meal, the chairman of the board, a kind of blustery, outgoing preacher, said to their waiter, “Jeremy, we’re a bunch of preachers here. We appreciate you serving us tonight and want to ask you if there’s anything we can pray for you before we leave?”
The waiter responded, “Well, as a matter of fact, there is. My wife has recently had some fairly serious health problems and has lost her job. As a result, we’re $487 behind on our gas and electric bill. If we don’t pay it by the end of this week, our electricity is going to be turned off. Would you pray that God would somehow meet that need?”
The preacher led in a moving prayer for Jeremy and he genuinely thanked them all. When he left the chairman said, “Guys, let’s be a real blessing to Jeremy. He needs help. I’m going to leave him a $20 tip.” The next guy said, “I’ll give $10”, and a third guy put down $20 on the table. It finally got around to Howard and he counted the stack of bills and they had over $150 to leave as a tip. Howard said, “I’ll tell you what guys, let’s really bless him. I’ll make up the difference and we’ll make it $487.”
“Oh no Howard! You don’t have to do that by yourself!” the others quickly blurted out. “I’ll give $20 more,” said one. Another one said, “I’ll do the same.” Still others said, “I’ll give $30 more.” Howard said by the time it got back around to him and he counted it all up the second time, he didn’t have to give a dime! But of course, he did. Howard’s generous spirit was contagious and that day they left that waiter a $487 tip.
Here’s the cool part. A year later Howard went back to the same restaurant, hoping to see Jeremy. He was so disappointed that he wasn’t serving that night, but after the meal Howard asked his server, “Say, could you tell me, what’s the biggest tip any server in this restaurant has ever received?”
The server said, “You wouldn’t believe it. A bunch of preachers were in here last year around this time and they prayed with a waiter and then left him a $487 tip!” Then she added, “Would you pray for me?” I guarantee you that when the employees of that restaurant think about Christian preachers, they probably think of them in a more positive light than they used to!
That’s why I never apologize for teaching a series on stewardship, giving and generosity like the one we started last Sunday called Kingdomnomics. The church should be known for its compassion and generosity, just like Jesus was and just like the first followers of Jesus were.
Andy Stanley likes to point out that one of the reasons the church made it out of the first century is because they out-gave everybody around them. Wouldn’t it be great if the people around us said, “I don’t know if I believe everything they believe at that Journey church. I probably don’t agree with everything they teach, but man, they are the most giving, generous people I’ve ever known.”
May that be true of us Journey.
Loving the giving Journey,