The Rich Young Ruler was challenged to give away all that he had and a few weeks ago so was I. My challenge was not quite the same because the church leadership gave me two alternatives. Firstly, I could give away all I had built up in the name of God’s Lily and all the projects associated with it. Or the alternative was to make sure that everything that God’s Lily did was completely separate from the church.
What the challengers wanted me to do
Giving away in this context meant giving everything away to a new charity that was controlled by the church. Like I said not quite the same challenge as the Rich Young Ruler. After all, there is no record of Jesus suggesting that he should give everything to the disciple who was acting as Jesus’s treasurer and let him distribute the money for him.
The problem I had when this challenge was made was that there were six titles listed on Amazon as being published by God’s Lily. On top of that the limitations of the way the God’s Lily domain is set up mean that it is not possible to offer the sort of online courses I want to do so have set up another domain to do that (www.FXCommunities.co.uk). You only need to look at the strapline to see how closely related the two sites are. So not only were they asking me to give away the copyright of all the books but all the income from the online courses. Then, of course, there is the prototype that I have set up called FX Jewellery. Throw that in as well and they were asking me to put thousands of pounds worth of assets some of which could bring in a substantial income into a charity controlled by the church.
I must admit I was not as gracious as the Rich Young Ruler. It took a while for the full extent of the impact of that request to hit me. When it did I was very angry. I had two big reservations.
- I could not see how changing things around so that they were done in the way the church leadership wanted them to be done would actually help those I wanted to help. In fact, I believed it would make what I was trying to do far less effective. It was obvious by the very fact that they wanted to set up a charity that they did not understand what I was trying to do and why. They actually wanted to take away one of the things that I believed would be needed for long term success. There is no evidence in the story of the Rich Young Ruler that he would lose his ability to do the things he had been called to do and had worked towards being able to do for many years.
- I was frightened that if I gave everything away it would make it harder to repay the debts I had managed to collect while working on this project. All the income I had hoped to help me do that would then be siphoned off into that charity and used for whatever purposes those the church appointed to lead the charity agreed upon. The rules about paying those involved in running a charity would mean I had two options. Firstly, I could work full time as a volunteer and still have a say in how it was run. Secondly, I could become an employee of the charity i.e. have an income from it but not have any say in how it was run. The Rich Young Ruler would go back to naught rather than a minus number.
One thing I do have in common with the Rich Young Ruler is that I did not give everything away. I have taken the alternative route.
I have removed every word I can think of from both the books and the websites that would associate them to the church, even architectural features. The dedication that once thanked them for their support has been rewritten so that they are not mentioned. It has been quite a task editing and updating all the books, but I am getting there.
Ages ago I ummed and arghed about whether I should use a pen name or a professional name. I did not jump in that direction at the time, but now they have given me the push I needed to go in that direction. The more I have thought about that the better an idea that seems. In a strange way that might be a good thing that has come out of all this hassle.
Like they said everything has to be separate so what do I do about tithing the profits? Well, the dream always was to develop some kind of support fund. I had the ideas for what boundaries to set for this tucked away at the back of my head all they needed was to be written out on paper. It feels good to have that written out on paper and to be on the way of fulfilling one dream so maybe that is a benefit as well.
The message on the stall has changed. It now says that 10% of the profits will go to charity until such time as my debts are paid off and then it will be a reverse tithe. In other words, once my debts are paid I will keep 10% of the profit and 90% will go into the support fund. I nearly made it 100% or all of it all but then thought it might be a good idea to leave God a chance to bless me from what I was doing. It is a challenge with only 10% but He is up to the challenge.
You see I am not the selfish little brat that rejecting the challenge of giving everything away makes me seem. It really hurt attacking my vision of how to help others and leaving it diminished so much that it could not achieve its full potential. It just would not be able to help the people it was intended to help. Once that debt is paid and the business is paying its own way, then why not have a mechanism for giving away the majority of the profits.
I will go partway towards what the church leadership team wanted me to do, but only as far as my two priorities, i.e. helping others as best as I can and getting myself out of debt, will allow me to do.