Have you ever been in the drive-thru line…several cars in front of you…get up to the window with your cash or credit card…hand the currency to the window attendant to hear them say: “The person in front of you just paid for your meal”? This is what is referred to as “Pay-It-Forward”.
This phrase has been made most popular by such occurrences witnessed at Chick-fil-A, In-N-Out Burger and Cook Out. These restaurants promote a Christian worldview and many of their patrons also embrace these values, so the concept of Pay-It-Forward is not foreign to them.
But this concept is not new and does not only apply to Christians (although we should be setting the example). Obviously, this principle is sprinkled throughout scripture…which we would expect, but let’s look at a quote from a secular writer. Ralph Waldo Emerson, in his 1841 essay Compensation, wrote: “In the order of nature we cannot render benefits to those from whom we receive them, or only seldom. But the benefit we receive must be rendered again, line for line, deed for deed, cent for cent, to somebody.” That will preach!
Now let me share a story about my son, Lee. We have known since an early age that God had placed a very tender and spiritually sensitive heart in this masculine “all boy” kid.
The story starts in November in the midst of the Banner Years initiative at Elevation Church. This initiative was focused on Biblical generosity. Not just financial, but about a life of generosity in every aspect. For 2 weeks, we were blessed to have Robert Morris from Gateway Church come and speak to our congregation. Robert is the author of many books on this topics and is one of the most prolific speakers I have heard on Biblical Stewardship. His teaching was convicting and poignant and it impacted our family. Lee came to me after the series and showed me how he had set up a tithing folder and was putting the first 10% in the folder each paycheck. This was in response to Roberts teaching on how the first thing you give your money to is what you are “tithing” to. If you write the mortgage check first, then you are “tithing” to the bank…and so on. Lee has always been a diligent tither, but I was thrilled that Lee was grasping the concept of First Fruits at the age of 16.
About 2 weeks after this series, Lee was working a shift at Chick-fil-A (thanks Art for hiring the 3 kids). He was working the drive-thru window when the next customer he served presented him with a $50 tip. WOW! A $6, #1 Combo followed by a $50 tip. I know that when I was 16, I would have been jumping for joy in how I could enrich my life with these new bucks. (then again, when I was 16, that $50 may have been worth $100 today…I am old!).
That evening, Lee was sharing the story with me and I asked him what he was going to do to bless someone else with a portion of the money. My hope was that he would say he was going to tithe 10%+ of the money…hoping to reinforce the idea of net new monies/first fruits. To my surprise, Lee said, “Dad, it is not my money. I am going to Pay-It-Forward like Robert Morris preached. I am going to look for an opportunity to give it all away to someone who needs it.” I still get chocked up thinking about this. I wish I could say that when I was 16 I would have done that…but that is not true. Lee now carries that $50, folded in a special place in his wallet, looking for an opportunity to bless someone else.
As we all kick off 2013, will you join me in looking for ways to Pay-It Forward? With our time…possessions…gifting…and financial means?
Lord…thank you for a son like Lee. May I learn from the heart you have given him.