Commitment Stories: The Hamiltons
God is really patient, and He’s not turned off when our initial response comes out of hurt. This is AJ and Crystal Hamilton’s story about how they settled on the amount they would commit to the We Are God’s Building campaign. It started with AJ.
I knew we were gonna have to lead in this because I’m a pastor on staff. I sat down with our budget and started thinking through what could we cut, how could we increase our giving? I felt like the Lord was saying, “Give three more percent than you’re giving now.” It was that simple.
With a real peace about what the Lord had revealed to me, I came home and shared with Crystal: “I have a number, and I want you to tell me what you think about it.” I told her and she said, basically, “No way!” Not the reaction I was expecting.
It turns out Crystal had some hurt from past sacrifices they’d made. Here’s her part of the story.
I had been praying for Mt. Gilead before AJ even took the job. Even with the roller coaster of possibly purchasing the building, I was excited about the possibility. I remember thinking how cool it would be if we could do a campaign even if the building wasn’t involved. I felt like that would help us in planning and praying for something unknown and unseen. I was excited about the elders leading out in giving and praying during this season, but when it came into my home…
It hit me hard. God has called all of us as Christians to give of our time, talents, and treasures. Having been on staff at a church for numbers of years, and having AJ feel the same conviction to lead out in being sacrificial before…To have been a part of building campaigns and given sacrificially only to see that church close its doors and not really have anything to show for it…We gave of our time, treasure, and talent. It was what God asked us to do, but at the end of it all I felt empty instead of encouraged. So jumping into another giving campaign here, I felt like, “Shoot!”
My answer to AJ was no. We already gave a lot. We’re sacrificial. And just, no. I can’t even envision doing that right now. We talked about it for a while, on and off. He broached the subject very carefully…
It was difficult at first having to go back to the elders and say I don’t have agreement with my wife. We talked about it as elder couples together, and we had to plainly say, “We’re not there yet.”
I was praying, “Lord, please give her the same amount or more.”
AJ asked me to read the book the leaders would be asked to read (The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn). I took about as long as I could to start reading that. I feared feeling ashamed once I picked it up and I wasn’t welcoming that.
When I finally got around to reading the book, I remember feeling the opposite of shame. I felt comforted and encouraged to press on. There were things that were convicting, but it wasn’t condemning. It was cool to recognize the Lord’s hand in it. He was firm and gentle, meeting me where I was and leading me from there.
I knew I needed to pray to Him and ask Him for a number. That’s what AJ was asking of me: “Just talk to the Lord and see if He gives you a number, see if He tells you something.”
I want to say I was praying intently on it, but I would talk to God every once in a while as it came to mind. He kept laying a specific number on my mind. I didn’t even know what to do with this because I didn’t feel like my heart was willing to commit to it. But I finally took it to AJ and said, “This is the number, but don’t put a lot of weight on it because I know I’m still wrestling with it.”
She said the dollar amount, and I was actually really concerned at first that she wanted to lower our current amount. The number was less than we give currently for a single year. When I mentioned that to her she explained this was supposed to be above and beyond. I went back to the spreadsheets. I hadn’t been focused on the above and beyond so much as I had looked at what the total would be. The number she gave was the exact dollar amount that 3% would be.
Their numbers matched exactly!
One of the things we’ve struggled with through the years is being on the same page with finances. We were raised in very different types of homes as far as how much was made and how money was spent. We came into marriage with very different perspectives and it still sometimes strains our conversation.
To see God working in our hearts individually so we could be united in this and trust this moving forward was a display of His goodness. We can lean on the fact that God told both of us the same thing. He’s so patient in showing me His goodness.