Surviving difficult times

Father David Epps's picture

These are difficult times for many people. A few weeks ago, I was in a meeting with a number of pastors when the question was asked, “Is anyone finding that the offerings in church are down?” Every hand went up. People, businesses and organizations are finding that this is a time of adjustment.

There are people who are doing just that. One man, in order to reduce his debt, has taken a second job, putting all the extra money into eliminating bills. One couple, concerned about the future of the housing market, emptied their savings and paid off their mortgage.

One family, impacted by the economic difficulties, searches the newspapers for free events to which to take their kids, discovering that the children have just as much fun without the spending of money.

In some cases, spending patterns have to be altered. Expectations may have to change.

As the Marine Corps might say, people, businesses, and even churches need to be prepared to “improvise, adapt, and overcome.” Not everyone, of course, will do that.

Some will moan, cry, howl about the unfairness of it all, blame others for their troubles, or complain that the “poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer.” But in the end, those who take personal responsibility, meet the challenge, and do whatever is necessary to survive (within legal, moral and ethical means) will still be standing at the end of the crisis.

When I was young, my father was out of work for nearly two years, having been laid off from the paper company. I, however, never knew it. My dad never complained (in my hearing at least), continued to have breakfast with the family at the same time, and went off to what I thought was work.

In fact, he spent eight hours a day — day after day — filling out job applications and looking for work. At night and on the weekends, he dug ditches for people, put in sewer lines, and did back-breaking menial work for enough money to keep body and soul together.

Eventually, he landed a low-paying job as a general laborer which eventually led to an apprenticeship, school, and a career as a master electrician. It was only years later that I learned that he had been unemployed.

While I don’t preach much about it, I am a firm believer in the principle of sowing and reaping. That is, whatever you sow, you reap; if you don’t sow, you don’t reap. For two years, my dad “sowed applications” and expected that, somewhere, there would be a reaping.

Sometimes, people in difficult circumstances will cease or cut back on their charitable giving and their tithe to the church. Thinking that they are saving money, they are, in truth, “eating the seed.” They then wonder why they can’t ever seem to make ends meet. No seed sown, no crop to harvest.

A few years ago, we were building a sanctuary when we were hit with some unexpected expenses that threatened the project. That same week, I was at a convocation where an urgent missionary need was made known that involved, for us, a substantial sum of money. I said to my wife, “We’re going to meet that need.”

“All of it?” she asked.

“All of it,” I confirmed.

“David,” she said, “that’s a lot of money.”

I replied, “Cindy, we need a lot of money.”

The gift was sown and within a few days the problem at the building site was resolved and the sanctuary built.

In tough times, we need to improvise, to adapt, and to be determined to overcome. We need to cut back on spending in some areas, reduce debt, work a second job if necessary, keep pounding the pavement looking for work — and we need to sow, not eat, our financial seed.

[David Epps is the founding pastor of Christ the King Church, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277, between Peachtree City and Newnan. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. He also serve as a bishop to the Mid-South Diocese and is the mission pastor of Christ the King Church in Champaign, IL. He may be contacted at]

login to post comments | Father David Epps's blog

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Asboobet's picture
Submitted by Asboobet on Tue, 03/17/2009 - 3:51pm.

Please don't misapply the "reap what you sow" principle.

Paul was NOT discussing tithing when he wrote that; he was pointing out that all our actions have consequences.

If clergymen find that there isn't enough money coming in for them and their families to survive on, then let them get out and find JOBS.

Or do they not know the principle found at 2 Thessalonians 3:10;
"If anyone does not want to work, neither let him eat."???

Submitted by chuckusa on Wed, 02/25/2009 - 12:23am.

Father Epps has suggested in this recent column that reaping and sowing is reminiscent of an accounts ledger. In order to reap financial reward, one must sow financial seed. Supporting the church you attend? betcha, its essential. BUT, suggesting that unless one keeps up the correct (percentage) of tithing in these troubled times, one puts their blessings from the Lord at risk... is outright blasphemy. How about the church cutting back on some things, or is it also essential to "entertain" the congregation at all costs? Where exactly do the blessings from the Lord come from anyway? The church?
You mean we have to BUY God? This to me would be a perfect example of works without faith...or do we have to buy faith too? Father Epps, stop the scare tactics, you of all people should know it doesn't work this way. If the lights get turned off in the sanctuary, then meet in peoples homes, or in the parking lot if you have to. Its all about obedience to the Lord, not ensuring our reward through works. I don't like this jesus you that demands bribes. It's time for truth, whatever the COST!

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.