The 10 Percent Solution

My dad didn’t even want to talk about church. Then tithing settlement rolled around …

The 10 Percent Solution

I didn’t think that tithing settlement was such a big deal, but Brother Jacobs, our home teacher, seemed pretty excited about it. He and his son Brian were over and, like always, they asked for my dad’s permission to have a prayer. My dad grunted yes and Brother Jacobs gave the prayer. As he prayed, something he said caught my attention. Brother Jacobs said, “And bless Brother Johnson that he will respond to our message.”

My dad is really a good man, but he didn’t go to church or even want to talk about it. It had taken almost a year of the home teachers knocking on our door for my dad to let them in the house, but I’m glad he did.

I wondered what Dad would do. It was rare that he would even stay in the room when the home teachers were there, but he did nothing. Brother Jacobs was pretty brave to say what he did with my dad listening. He was lucky Dad didn’t leave the room.

Dad was his usual self. He was willing to talk about most things—sports, his yard, the weather—but not about the Church. We were talking about Dad’s favorite football team when Brother Jacobs blurted out, “Brother Johnson, we want you to come to tithing settlement.”

I thought Brother Jacobs had made a big mistake because Dad got very quiet and looked uncomfortable. Finally he said, “Why should I come to tithing settlement? I don’t pay tithing.”

Now I got quiet and felt uncomfortable. How was Brother Jacobs going to answer Dad’s question?

Brother Jacobs said, “Because the Lord loves you.” Brother Jacobs said the bishop had asked all the home teachers to go to every member and invite them to tithing settlement. He told Dad that he wanted him to go because he wanted our family to have the blessing of going. My dad got quiet again.

Brother Jacobs told Dad that tithing settlement was a simple way for the Lord to bless our lives. If we paid tithing or not the Lord would bless us for going to tithing settlement. Tithing settlement only takes a few minutes, he said, and the bishop does not make anyone feel ashamed or guilty. Brother Jacobs also promised that if Dad took his family to tithing settlement, he would have a happier home and each one of his family would become a better person.

Dad didn’t say much. He really loves us and wants to do what is right for us. When Brother Jacobs asked if he would go to tithing settlement, Dad said yes.

The end of the month came, and my Dad took us to tithing settlement. Just before the bishop called us in, I wondered what Dad was thinking. He was awfully fidgety. I think he didn’t want to be there. I remembered Brother Jacob’s promise and wondered if our lives would change.

When the bishop asked us in, he greeted Dad like his best friend. I don’t know if that made Dad feel at ease or more uncomfortable. The bishop talked to us briefly, then asked my youngest sister, Suzie, if she knew what tithing was.

Suzie said yes, tithing was when you get ten coins, you give one to the bishop. The bishop said that was true, but it was the Lord’s money and he, as the bishop, received it for Him. The bishop asked Suzie if she had received any money this year. Suzie said she had gotten some money for her allowance. The bishop asked Suzie if she paid a full tithing. She said yes.

The bishop then asked Maggie, my older sister, if she was a full-tithe payer. Maggie said yes like she was Joan of Arc going off to be burned. She said every bit of money she got was tithed and she was a full-tithe payer. Maggie was always too dramatic.

Now it was my turn to say if I was a full-tithe payer. I was about to say yes, but then I remembered that I had done some yard work last summer and hadn’t tithed the money I got for it. I had to tell the bishop no, I wasn’t a full-tithe payer.

The bishop asked me if I wanted to be a full-tithe payer. I said yes, I guess so. Then he asked if I had the money now. I pulled out my wallet and gave him what I had. It still wasn’t enough. Then I felt some pressed into my hand. It was my dad giving me the money needed to pay a full tithing. I looked at my dad and he said I could pay him back later. I gave the bishop the rest of my tithing, and he wrote down that I was a full-tithe payer. It was a pretty good feeling.

The bishop then asked my mom if she paid a full tithe. She said yes. She had tithed the money she got for watching the neighbor’s children.

It was Dad’s turn to declare. He is a proud man, and I knew he hadn’t paid any tithing this year, so I was surprised that he had come at all. What really surprised me was when my dad pulled an envelope out of his pocket and gave it to the bishop. Dad said it wasn’t a full tithing but it was a start.

The bishop became quiet. He just stared at my dad. After what seemed to be forever, the bishop told my dad he was glad that my father had set a good example for his family and as long as my father kept his promise, the Lord would keep his.

We were all pretty quiet on the way back home. I wondered what the bishop meant about promises. My dad looked pretty surprised when the bishop said it. I didn’t find out what the bishop meant until three months later, but I did find out that Brother Jacobs was right almost right away. Two weeks after tithing settlement Dad came to church for the first time in years. And he has kept going. Just last fast Sunday I found out what had happened.

It was a real spiritual meeting. Even I got up to bear my testimony. And before I was able to sit down, Dad got up to bear his testimony. He told how five years ago he had got out of the habit of going to church. Back in November he began thinking seriously about his children and how the world would affect them as they were growing up. He saw how his children’s friends were influencing them to start to do things that he knew would lead to trouble. This is what he was thinking when the home teachers came over. When Brother Jacobs promised Dad that his family would be better people if he took them to tithing settlement, he knew he had to take the opportunity.

As the time for tithing settlement got close, my dad began to think about why he didn’t pay tithing. He used to pay it and didn’t miss it at all. He only stopped paying because he stopped going to church. My dad thought that if he could believe going to tithing settlement would help his family, then he could believe that paying tithing would also help. My dad said a silent prayer where he promised the Lord that he would start paying tithing and he expected the Lord to keep his promise. Right at that moment, my dad began to change.

My dad then told the ward that when he met with the bishop, it really felt good to give, even though it wasn’t a full tithing. He learned that starting was the important part. He also told the ward that when the bishop had told him the Lord would keep his promise, my dad knew the Lord had answered his prayer. He also found out what Brother Jacobs had said about tithing settlement was true. My dad said that if he hadn’t gone to tithing settlement he would not be in church today. After going to tithing settlement my dad began to think where he was headed. He realized that it wasn’t too late to change his life, so he started by coming to church.

He told everyone that tithing was a true principle that had changed his life. And, you know something, he’s right.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Roger Motzkus