Tithing: A Duty or a Feel-Good Flow of Funds?

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Audio Tithing

Six established women entrepreneurs sat on couches around a coffee table:  a lot of horsepower in one single location.  They were taking part in a 3-hour live-stream presentation in which they would share their starts (and false starts) in business.  They would enlighten and inspire.

As they took turns introducing one another, it was obvious they were all connected.  They had mentored one another, masterminded together and those who had been in business longer had offered the first stage experience to newcomers.  In short, this was a sisterhood of sorts.  And, indeed, they implored all budding entrepreneurs to get out from behind their computers, go to live events and build their own versions of sisterhood, specifically including diverse talents, strengths and weaknesses.

Money Stories

Next, the topic turned to money stories. Bankruptcies, month-end struggles, spiritual crises of meaning and strokes of good luck.  Most had a “hard luck” component, maybe an unexpected Aha!

And each had a moment when some combination of factors came together to result in an extremely successful 6-figure launch which then confirmed that they were on the right track.

When entrepreneurs with 7-figure annual incomes talk about how they started out, how they struggled and how they succeeded, unfortunately there is a sameness about the stories because so many details have been stripped out.  Their story has been told hundreds of times from stages and on calls.  Typically, the story is flat.

However, a couple of the entrepreneurs were able to dig past their own canned presentation and reconnect with the emotions of that period.  One in particular resonated.  (We’ll call her Sue.)

Sue spoke of tithing.


While at the very beginning of her business, long before it was generating enough income to offer much comfort, Sue had read about tithing.  “Not being a Catholic,” she said, it wasn’t something her extended family did, so the concept was somewhat foreign.

Sue read that, while most people wait until they have ample money to tithe, the key was to tithe from the existing resources, however restricted they might seem.  It meant the first 10 percent taken right off the top of all income, after tax withholding.  The mere ability to separate out those funds meant resources were not quite so limited.

Sue’s message was that, the more she set aside and contributed to efforts she cared about, the more she made.  Instead of this activity being a drain on her much-needed available resources, it actually felt more like putting fuel on the fire.

I admit I have not tithed in my life.

And I’m not interested in the traditional concept of tithing, where I’d be doing so out of duty—out of “I should do this”—and contributing to institutions or groups who market themselves as needing it.  Instead, I’m interested in proactively earmarking funds that—by their simple existence—will make me feel abundant.  It will represent a free flow of money that allows me to make wonderful things happen, whoever the beneficiary is.  (Even if the beneficiary is me.)

This will be an experiment.  I’ll let you know how it goes.  But that’s how I believe tithing can have the greatest positive impact on me … and on my life.

Let us know in the Comments section below if you tithe regularly, or if you have ever thought of doing so.  What does tithing mean to you?  How has it affected your life?


Bio: Sharon O’Day fixes financial lives. She is a tell-it-like-it-is money expert with a successful career in global finance, plus an MBA from the Wharton School. Today she specializes in getting entrepreneurial women over 50 back on their game so they can have more money, less stress and more joy. With her “Over Fifty and Financially Free” strategies, they take actions that lead to their ultimate goal: financial  peace of mind.

  • Joseann

    @ I’m interested in proactively earmarking funds that—by their simple existence—will make me feel abundant. It will represent a free flow of money that allows me to make wonderful things happen, whoever the beneficiary is.

    What does this mean? I don’t really understand what you say here, might be a language problem. Do you have an example? Thank you

    • By having a line item in one’s budget where “x” percent of post-tax income is separated out from the monies available to pay bills and obligations (whether that amount gets donated immediately or gets put in a separate account for a specific contribution later), it will engender a feeling of “excess” or abundance. If you believe that mindset is important, moving from a mindset of scarcity to one of plenty will affect your attitude and decisions. Some people might call it “paying yourself first.”

  • This is really interesting Sharon because I’m sure most people automatically think of tithing as a religious duty, but widening the interpretation as you have gives the term such wider meaning. I do give regular amounts of money to church and charity because although I don’t have alot, I still have so much more than many. And I do believe that every little helps.
    The idea of tithing as a form of saving to benefit yourself or others I think is a great idea. And you are so full of those Sharon!

    • Giving to ourselves is so much more important than most people think. And if that feeling of “having enough to share” contributes to our well-being and to our ability to bring in even more–to share–where’s the harm? 😉

  • Diana Foree

    Tithing doesn’t necessarily have to be church related. Having extra money can be used for making hats, scarves, quilts for the less fortunate in your neighborhoods. Giving to a specific charity or mission is my choice for tithing. Thanks for a good article.

    • You’re right, Diana. It’s just that most people think of it in those terms. Yet it can be a valuable tool for setting money aside for other (nurturing) activities, as you suggest.

  • Kelley Harrell

    I’m so glad to have found this blog, Sharon (from our FB group). I tithe by sponsoring organizations who offer something to communities I work in. There are two organizations that I regularly give to. I also teach a specific class for free, as a means of tithing, as well.

    I find that I feel really good when I tithe in this manner. As you said, I’ve never responded well to brow-beating, when it comes to giving to any charity. I would like to be able to give more to local organizations, and as I am able to I will.

  • In my earlier years, I was a devout tithe payer, because it was expected of me – not because I necessarily wanted to. I begrudgingly “gave”, though it felt more like an expense line item on a budget. As part of my own growing up, I gave up that particular habit, and haven’t implemented it again… but, I’m seriously considering it now…. with new perspective.

    The theory of tithing as a means of sharing abundance appeals to me. And I wholeheartedly believe that more will be created from it – I thank you for reminding me that this is an activity I’d like to implement into my own life/business.

    I also really like Kelley’s idea to give other things, such as time, classes, etc. as intentional tithing. Excellent post, giving me much to think about, Sharon. 🙂

  • DawnBarclay

    Hi Sharon, great post. No, I have never used the word or even thought that the money I contributed elsewhere as tithing. Share abundantly, yes.

  • Carmen

    Great post. Great practice I follow. I put 15% away. Makes me feel safe.

  • Scott Glaze

    Very insightful post Sharon! We have been discussing this a lot lately and enjoy reading your articles as they make the awareness clearer.

  • Maggie DeGennaro

    Very good post Sharon! Always good financial information.

  • Sandy K Hardy

    I tithe my 10% to my church. I believe it belongs to God. I gladly give it. I wouldn’t have what I have if He didn’t provide it.

  • Alexandra McAllister

    Thanks for sharing this insightful post, Sharon. I’ve not used this word or ever thought that what I donate as tithing. It is a great practice.

  • Kung Phoo

    I have never even heard of the word.. but i know some people who do this and have been doing it for so many years..

  • Wingate Wyndham Sulphur

    We tithe at church, a small amount, not a percentage. And I just started saving for retirement, and it is so much a paycheck. So, I guess you could say I tithe for retirement?

  • jessica

    sharon–i’ve heard this theory many times, but have never tried, looking forward to reading your follow-up

  • Roz

    I have never tithed nor likely too, but I do live from abundance. Even when the pot was empty. I’ve had many experiences where I spent our last few dollars knowing in my heart it would all work out. Today, I’m in a more stable position but still make decisions from a place of abundance, not scarcity. It gives me a generous feeling of self.

  • Susan Schiller

    I’m hesitant to share my tithing story, but as you can guess, it comes from a religious background where tithing was pounded into us, a weekly event. Abundance was taught but only experienced by the wealthy few. The majority experienced scarcity, even poverty, while giving 10%… on the gross… plus offerings on top of that. We were taught that 10% was the bare minimum requirement and that you can only give offerings once that requirement was meant. There was a lot of pressure… we tithed for many years, right into poverty. Years later, I discovered the blessing of giving 10%….and I do fully believe in it. I’m afraid the former tithing rules have held me back from practicing it, but your article has caused me to ponder this… and now I know I can return to the 10% tithe without it coming from a false motivation: fear. Thanks for this helpful article and I look forward to hearing more!

  • This so resonates with me. I don’t know how to explain it, or just how true it is. I only know that it works. Here’s to investing and learning to give – not to get, but to be a blessing.

  • I think it is good business

  • Lorna Tedder

    Sharon, I so agree! It’s all about flow. I grew up tithing because it was obligatory but now my tithe is for special projects or circumstances, often anonymous, that make me feel good. I think of money as energy and when you open up the flow so that it comes from the heart, we feel abundant in our emotions and abilities, and the abundance flows right back to us even though (and especially though) getting money back isn’t the intention. Thank you for delving into this topic!

  • Gilly G Fisher

    What a great project, I think this will bring positive to your business because your contributing to where you might see great outcomes that are relevant to your choices and thinking. 🙂

  • robin bond

    I have tithed and yes it has affected my life in many ways. The biggest part was my heart more so than material things.

  • Robin Strohmaier

    Very thought provoking article, Sharon! The first thing I thought about when you mentioned the word, tithing is of course, tithing as describe in the Bible. I hadn’t thought about the idea of tithing as a form of saving to benefit yourself or others. You do have the most insightful and thought inspiring posts! I look forward to hearing the outcome of your experiment.

  • One of the best things we can do is tithing. Giving away money creates more money. I love to give and your right, begin now with what you have. If you can give, you can then receive. Thank you for sharing your message.