January 2013 - Vol. 65.

From Father to Son: Things My Dad Taught Me About Life
 by Ted Kennedy III

5. Being Generous Toward God

Kids learn lessons in surprising ways and at surprising times. One of the most significant lessons my Dad ever taught me (and he may not have been aware that he even did it) was to be generous toward God. It happened like this:

Dad was describing a time when he was in Paris. He had a long-established pattern of taking whatever loose change and bills he had in his pocket and putting it in the offering plate whenever a collection was taken up. It was a little expression of “giving everything” – he gave everything in his pocket at the time.

Well, here he was in Paris. He went into church, and they took up a collection. He reached into his pocket and to his horror discovered that he had a lot of money there – he had just exchanged a bunch of dollars for French Francs a short while before. But he stuck with his decision, and put it all in the plate. It hurt at the time, but that was what he had decided to do, and he knew God would honor it. As he recounted the story, I almost ached with the agony of parting with that much money, but I also felt Dad’s determination to be faithful to his decision to honor God.

A few weeks later, we were in church. It was the day after my birthday, and I had been given five dollars by my grandfather – a lot of money to a little boy in 1960. I was carrying it with me, because I just enjoyed having so much money in my pocket. 

So there I was, and the collection plate came around. I felt that five dollars in my pocket, and I remembered my Dad’s story about the large sum of money he had put into the offering plate in Paris. I felt again the ache of his parting with so much money, but in my little 10-year-old heart, I decided to “be like my Dad” and put in everything I had too. On one hand it hurt to part with the money, but the thrill of being like my Dad was strong enough to overcome the agony.

And you know, God honored that big gesture by a little guy trying to be like his Dad. A seed was planted in me that enabled me to give myself to God in more significant ways later in life. As I grew, and especially as I grew in spiritual maturity, I came to know the difficulty of giving things up, but also the tremendous rewards of a life lived for God. It’s a lesson acted out and learned over and over again. But for me it began by giving “everything I had” – just like my Dad. 

(c) 2011 Ted Kennedy III


Ted Kennedy is a member of the Servants of the Word, an ecumenical brotherhood of men living single for the Lord. He is steward and trainer for the Servants of the Word international formation house in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. Ted is a vice president at Service Brands International, a franchising company headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

.Click on links below to read separate stories

Intro Things My Dad Taught Me About Life
Story 1 Trust Your Strengths and Know Your Limits
Story 2 One Dad and One Father
Story 3 The Debtor Who Wouldn't Go Away
Story 4 Waiting to Honor
Story 5 Being Generous toward God
Story 6 I Would give it All Up in a Second

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