By: Alex Ellis, VFA Co-President and Founding Partner
Last year, I flew to Lexington, KY to meet with some business leaders because I wanted to learn more about the stories I was hearing and consider engaging with them. Tens of thousands of people in Nepal are being impacted through their extraordinary ministry effort.
As I sat at the table, it really hit me how intentional and impactful this group is. They are using their business skills and experience, along with a lot of prayer, to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
And they’re not the only people doing this.
Recently, I had the privilege to interview Harry and Lynne Rogers. I’ve known them since 2010, and I can tell you they are people who are making a difference in the world around them. This Ohio couple has been married for 48 years, and they’ve saved and given generously since their early days of marriage. They give of their finances, and they give of their time and knowledge by serving and teaching people.
I’m excited to share our conversation with you.
You are some of the most intentional people I know. I’m wondering, why limit how much you keep for yourselves so you can give to other people and ministries?
Lynne: We simply want to be good stewards of what the Lord has given to us.
Harry: So, it’s really driven by a growing view of God. Rather than seeing God as someone small who we can put on a shelf and then bring out on Sunday from 11-12 and then put Him back, the Bible teaches He is the creator of the whole universe, wonderful counselor, mighty God, the everlasting Father, the prince of peace.
I would think that produces abundant thinking rather than scarcity thinking.
Harry: Yes, we see an opportunity to invest into Eternity way beyond our lifetimes, sort of like we invest money into a mutual fund for the purpose of someday having a return on that investment. We see an opportunity to invest for eternity the time, talents, spiritual gifts, and treasure God has given us.
What got you interested in giving at first?
Harry: A year after we got married, a friend of my dad’s was starting a church just outside of the city where we lived. The church planter had one deacon, and he sent his deacon and two sons to help us move.
Lynne: So we thought we’d better visit the church on Sunday. We were looking for a church and hadn’t found one.
Harry: So this couple sort of adopted us as their…
Lynne: They mentored us. They were like our parents, because we didn’t have any local parents.
Harry: This was a couple that the Lord brought along. They were an enormous help to us. At this church we began learning and then we got these tapes (Larry Burkett financial teaching) and that sort of initiated some things, so we began to give to the Lord the first part of what He gave us. After some time, the question was not any more, “How much do I have to give.” It was “How much can we give?” That has been a lifetime question for probably more than 45 years now.
Can you share with us what the two of you do at the end of each year?
Harry: At the end of every year now, between Christmas and New Years, we sit down and make some plans for the next year. Our budget. Our giving. And how much more we can give this year. It’s been a long journey starting with giving 10%, and I think every year we’ve increased it by a certain percentage.
Lynne: And the funny thing is… well it’s a supernatural thing… without any earned income now, we’re still able to increase our giving every year.
Harry: About four years ago, we reached the point of giving away more than we keep.
Harry: And with God’s wisdom and help, our goal is to someday give away 90% and live on 10%.
Lynne: That’s your goal, not mine.
Lynne: We’re still talking about that.
You two have a good relationship. Marriages can be really influenced in good or bad ways by things like money, expectations and communication. How has it affected your marriage to have these conversations about money and plan together?
Harry: As we learned these things and put them into practice together, we learned we could be on the same page. And it provided opportunities for positive communication and peace in the home, despite the fact that we view things radically different.
Lynne: Totally different.
Harry: And that’s good. It’s helpful.
Lynne: I hate having these financial conversations, but I know it’s important and for our good. For me, it’s like taking medicine. I don’t enjoy these conversations, but I am glad we have them.
It can be tempting for a lot of us to feel like we never have enough, like we always need more money, more stuff. So some people find it very helpful to establish a maximum living standard by asking themselves, “How much is enough?” I think that answer will vary from person to person. How did you answer that question in your own lives?
Lynne: A long time ago, we decided we wouldn’t live according to our means but we would live below our means. We’ve chosen to live modestly so we’ve been able to save and give more.
Harry: Yes, I think it’s important to live intentionally with margin. At the same time that doesn’t mean we impoverish ourselves. We enjoy lots of wonderful things that God has provided for us.
You talk about your vision to live a 100x life, Harry. What do you mean by that?
Harry: One of the objectives for my life is to be like the good ground in the parable of the sower that returned 100 times — not financially but 100 times in the lives of people (Matthew 13). That’s the passion the Lord has put in my heart. And He keeps bringing along opportunities.
The Bible tells us that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Do you believe He has rewarded you for your generosity?
Lynne: Oh, yes.
Harry: Yes. And there are people who have given much more; they’ve given everything. I think of the story of the widow in the Bible who gave all of her net worth away to God (Mark 12:41-44). When I get to Heaven, I want to go find that widow and ask her what the Lord did after she gave.
*The names have been changed, allowing their generosity to remain anonymous.
*Speak with your VFA advisor if you’d like to create or update a giving plan. We’re here to serve you.