Written By: George Warren
Let me tell you what I learned from Kenneth Mason. When we served the church in Goodwell out in the Oklahoma Panhandle, we grew to love some amazing people. One of those families was the Mason family—Kenneth and Margaret and their three sons, Jeff, Todd and Lee. Margaret was an accountant, working for one of the companies in the area. Kenneth was a farmer, growing mostly wheat and milo, and grazing cattle on the wheat over the winter. Kenneth had lost one of his thumbs in an accident working on a combine many years before, and he used to startle the children by “pulling his thumb off” and showing the nub! They were hard working folks, good folks. But I don’t know how they paid the grocery bill for those growing boys!
I asked Kenneth to share his witness on why he gave to the church, and this is what he said. “We make an estimate of giving each year because we know our church does great things in our community and around the world, and we want them to be able to plan on what they can spend. You know that we farm. Now farming for wheat is always a gamble. I never feel the urge to go to Las Vegas to gamble for fun. We do that every day, and all you farmers understand. Some years the harvest is strong, but the prices will be low; some years the harvest is low, but the prices are up. Some years we lose money on the wheat but make it on milo and cattle; some years it’s just the opposite. Since we never know from year to year, we just make our estimate of giving based on our average income—Margaret’s salary plus the farm income. When we have a good year, we pay off loans and buy new equipment. When we have a bad year, we take out a loan to live on and keep farming. With that loan we pay the mortgage on our house, and our living expenses. Just because the harvest was weak, we’re not going to stop eating or driving to the boys’ basketball away games or buying clothes for them. And with that loan we also pay our tithe. That’s right. We borrow money to pay our tithe. Margaret and I figure that God has blessed us immensely with each other, the boys, the farm and so much more. If I’m committed to pay obligations to the bank who doesn’t love me, (And don’t get me wrong, they’re good people; they just don’t love me.) then (At this point he pointed that nub of a thumb to his chest.) shouldn’t I be more committed to God who does love me?
I don’t remember what I said that Sunday, but I will never forget what Kenneth Mason said, “If I’m committed to pay my obligations to the bank who doesn’t love me, shouldn’t I be more committed to God who does love me?”