Tithing

November 15th, 2005 by Steve Pavlina

Tithing is the practice of giving away 10% of your income (tithe means “tenth”), usually to a charitable cause.  Some people absolutely swear by the practice of tithing and consider it integral to the process of wealth creation.

Benefits of tithing include:

  • Overcoming scarcity thinking.  Tithing helps you develop a greater sense of abundance.  By giving away 10% of your income, you’re programming your subconscious to believe in abundance thinking.  This can make you more open and receptive to receiving money.  If you think abundance, you’re more likely to experience abundance.
  • Supporting a worthy cause.  If the money you tithe is put to good use, you can financially support a cause that’s important to you.
  • Achieve greater wealth.  Whenever you earn more money, your tithes increase as well, so your cause(s) receive greater financial support.  This can be extremely motivating for some people.

Personally I think some people get too caught up in the specific practice of tithing and lose sight of its real purpose.  Too often I see people feeling guilty about not tithing (or not tithing enough).  Or they develop a love-hate relationship with the practice, feeling compelled to tithe even though they have mixed feelings about it.  They feel they should tithe, but they don’t completely want to tithe.

It’s perfectly OK not to tithe.  If you don’t feel a desire to tithe, don’t beat yourself up about it.  Let go of the guilt, and forgive yourself.  Not tithing doesn’t make you a bad person.

Tithing must be done from a state of abundance.  If you harbor thoughts of scarcity as you tithe, then tithing will only become a source of incongruence and pain for you.

Consider the true purpose of tithing.  The purpose of tithing is to serve the highest good of all.  But tithing is only one of many ways to serve the highest good, certainly not the only way.  There are many other ways to serve the greater good.  Here are some ideas:

  • Give time.  Donate time to a cause you find is worthy.  Perform an act of service.
  • Give information.  Write articles or start a blog to share your knowledge freely with others who may benefit by it.
  • Give talents.  Use your skills to help someone who can’t afford to pay for them.
  • Give acknowledgement.  Smile at people.  Give someone a kind word today.  Acknowledge a job well done.
  • Give encouragement.  Be supportive of those around you.  Let others know you care about them.
  • Give thoughts.  Intend the best for other people.  Pray or meditate for others if those practices have meaning for you.
  • Give touch.  Give someone a pat on the back, a handshake, or a hug.  Give a massage.  Give a night of wild passion.

Money is not the only way to give.  In my opinion money is actually the weakest form of giving in comparison to the above.  I find other forms of giving to be much more enjoyable. 

Give Congruently

I used to tithe money to charities in the past, but I was never fully comfortable with that practice because there were many charitable causes I felt uneasy about supporting.  For example, I don’t feel comfortable supporting charities that conduct medical research via torturously cruel experiments on animals.  I don’t see those charities as truly working “for the highest good of all,” and it would be incongruent with my personal values to support them.  I understand completely that others have different opinions on the subject, but if I am to support a charity, I require that its cause be congruent with my values.  If I’m going to support the front end, there must be a back-end that I can support as well.  If the cause is somehow rooted in cruelty, war, greed, or other scarcity thinking, I’m not going to water those roots.

The intention you put into your giving is more important than the particular means of giving.  Give in a manner which makes you feel good, not guilty.  And if you don’t currently have a viable outlet for giving that aligns with your values and makes you feel good, then put out the intention for a new outlet for giving to come into your life.

Beyond Tithing

As I’ve driven myself to shed scarcity thinking, I eventually dropped the practice of tithing in favor of aligning my entire life with what I perceive to be the highest good of all.  I realized that if I’m giving money to a worthy cause, then perhaps I’m also telling myself that my own life is inherently a less worthy cause.  This isn’t necessarily true of you, but when I looked within I saw that it was true of me.  I felt better about the 10% I was giving away than the 90% I was using myself.  I knew I could do better than that.

Instead of tithing to “better” causes, I wanted my life to become a tithe-worthy cause of its own.  It saddened me to feel that only 10% of my money was serving the greater good.  Sure it’s better than 0%, but why not 20% or 50% or even 100%?  In order to reach those higher percentages, I had to transform my work completely, which I consciously did last year when moving from game development to personal development.  In this capacity I feel I’m able to serve the greater good more directly and purposefully.

Achieving Balance

One of my challenges has been to develop a balance between giving and receiving.  Over the past year, I’ve pushed very hard on the giving side while denying myself much receiving.  While I’ve worked very hard this year (writing more than 200 original articles and building web traffic from zero to 1,000,000 page views per month), I also made the least amount of money this year than I have in the previous past five years (at least so far).  But I came to realize that it wasn’t sensible to martyr myself for this cause and that I was succumbing to limited either-or thinking.  What I really needed to do was to balance the acts of giving and receiving.  To me this means inviting greater abundance into my life while simultaneously placing that abundance in service to the greater good.

I used to think that optimizing giving would automatically force receiving to be suboptimal, and vice versa.  I’ve since learned that was a false assumption.  Both optima actually share the same location.  To think there’s a conflict between them is to create that conflict.

I no longer think in terms of giving vs. receiving.  They’ve become the same thing for me.

There is a place where giving is painless and receiving is selfless.  Find that place in your own life, and move towards it.  As you do this, your scarcity thinking will dissolve, and a mindset of abundance will flow through your reality.


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