Writing a Blank Check
by Mike Pilliod (guest blogger)
My church had started a building fund because they were doing six services on Sunday and there were so many kids in our children’s ministry that they needed more space. The church asked members of the congregation to prayerfully consider giving ‘x’ amount (whatever we freely purposed in our hearts to give) over the next three years.
At the time, I was a high school science teacher and a community college baseball coach on the side. I had given my wife up to God as not my own, but as owned by God and given to me as my counterpart; I had given up my kids to God as not my own but given to me for a time to raise them to be the people God wanted them to be; I had given up my money to God as He is the creator of everything and as such it all belongs to Him anyway; and to make it easy on myself, I gave up the checkbook duties to my wife because she would actually give to the church, whereas I would likely squelch on that (but that’s another story). Basically the only thing I had not given up to God was baseball, and baseball was huge to me, so huge that I had started to become convicted that it might hinder my relationship with him.
My coaching position at the community college was as a volunteer assistant. Notice I said ‘volunteer’! The little money that I received in compensation for my coaching time at various baseball camp and clinics would maybe come to about $1500 a year. When the church building fund came up, I decided that if I donated all the money I got from my baseball coaching, that maybe God would take that as my giving baseball up to him, not to mention the church building fund would be getting a fairly generous donation of around $4500. So filled out the building fund pledge card and firmly committed myself to giving whatever amount I might make coaching baseball over the next three years to the building fund. One thing I did not fully realize though is that I had just given God a ‘blank check’, so to speak, and another thing I didn’t realize is that when you give a blank check to God with his name on it that he just might mess with your mind and put you to the test!
Two weeks later I found out that the stipended assistant coach had resigned to take a position at a local Christian high school as a teacher and head baseball coach. This put me in the position to get a quick promotion, which meant that I was now getting a $3000 per year stipend, plus another $2000 or so per year for camps and clinics, because I would be the camp director as well! So I very quickly went from around $4500 in total commitments to $15,000 over the next three years! Zoikes!
But, no, God was not done with me yet. Two weeks after that, I received a call from my head coach that my stipend had been raised to $5000 per year, which now put me at about $7000 per year or $21,000 over the three year commitment! But believe it or not, God still had one more trick up his sleeve…
Another two weeks had gone by and my head coach showed me his cost report which included my salary. I noticed a ‘3’ and said, “Oh well, looks like they brought down the stipend back to $3000 a year…bummer.” To which my boss replied, “No, dummy, you missed the 1 in front of the 3!” Yes, my stipend had now been raised to $13,000 per year plus another $2000 or so for camps and clinics. My three year gross commitment to the building fund had quickly sky-rocketed from $4500 to $45,000!
Needless to say I was, and still am, humbled by that experience, and my obedience was greatly tested with turning that money over to the church as I had said I would! Those were some of the best times I’d ever had and that decision lead to so many spiritual growth experiences that I cannot even begin to tell you!
After those three years, I ended up leaving the community college and taught high school science and coached baseball at Christian schools for the next six years, but my baseball endeavors decreased over each of those and now I don’t coach at all. I’m currently in the process of packing up my family (wife of almost 17 years, and two boys 14 and 10) and moving to Panama as missionaries working at an international Christian mission school for at least two years, if not four or more.
After that…I just don’t know. We are officially flying by the seat of our pants and living in God’s good graces and living with his sense of humor…and boy, does he have one!