Not Selling Gifts for Money

(good thoughts from

My Peace I Give Unto You by Robert Adlai Lake With Doug MendenhallAs I have read the Mendenhall’s book, “My Peace I Give Unto You,” one of the most profound lessons I am learning for myself is in regards to money and gifts.

Doug has successfully learned in a couple of years or less what I wasn’t able to learn in some fourteen years of labor in a ministerial capacity.

When his daughter returned from death due to a diabetic coma, she told him that the Lord did not want him to work for money any more. They had a 130,000 dollar medical bill because of Denise’ hospitalization, and he didn’t even have a job to cover the cost of groceries. Through a series of hard lessons, he finally turned his trust over to the Lord, and ways were opened to cover their needs.

I can relate to the Mendenhall’s financial plight as I have likewise been called of God to not work for money, but to serve him and trust that he will take care of my financial needs. This has been the case since back in 1988 when I began writing “The Vision of All: Our Past, Present, and Future as Foretold in Book of Mormon History.” But my faith has wavered and has been sorely tried as I have attempted a variety of means of evoking a financial return for the services I have rendered when donations do not seem to come spontaneously. The more I have expected remuneration from God through other people for my efforts, the more I have been sorely disappointed. At times I have become despondently bitter over it, threatening in my heart to leave his service if he can’t take better care of me than this. I have evoked images in my mind of how sorry people will be that they turned a deaf ear to my pleas for help, when a little bit from each person who “benefited” from my “service” would amply cover my needs. The more resentful I became that people weren’t helping out, the more resentful people became toward me for thinking they ought to be helping out. This vicious cycle came to a head last year when I wrote an angry letter titled “Pony Up; Share the Burden.”

I just didn’t get it, . . . either money or the principle of service and the giving of gifts. So I would go find a job somewhere to squeeze my way through some financial straight I was in, and grumble all the time in my heart that I shouldn’t have to be doing this because I am called to the ministry. Every moment away from the ministry was that much less time I could be devoting to promoting increased spirituality on the earth. To make matters worse, nearly every effort at getting a job or starting some kind of business was often fraught with failure. I didn’t get financial assistance doing the ministry, and I couldn’t make a go in the working world either. What kind of blessed existence was that? Did God not like what I was doing for him? I was confused, because I felt his influence so much in the ministry, and yet he wasn’t blessing my life temporally.

I believe the Mendenhall’s book answers this dilemma for me with a gentle rebuke of how I have been going about this. The focus my faith has been backwards. I have been appealing to people who I believe to be humble followers of God to be generous. They have resented that. Most of them are as financially strapped as I am, and are as desirous to serve the Lord in a full-time capacity as I am. Why should they give me their money when they would just as well like to be doing what I am doing? They are right.

Rather, I need to simply trust in God — and not in a round-about way by appealing to his followers. If my heart is right, he knows those who listen to him, and who will be generous, and he can appeal to them directly. I don’t need to utter a word to others about my need. God is my provider. He helps through other people, but that doesn’t mean I should try and reverse that process by trying to find those “other people” and appealing to them directly. It just doesn’t work that way.

This lesson came home to me as I read three short paragraphs from the Mendenhall’s book. The context is a situation in which Doug discovers that Denise is able to predict the outcome of the lottery, or know what is on the face of any card. He mistakenly thinks that this is intended to be the solution to their financial problems, and begins to prod Denise to use her gifts in this way.

Her dad has just asked her if she has the ability to do this.

“Yes, Denise, you may answer him, but tell him only yes,” Christ said to me.

“But if I do, then Daddy will want me to win money for him and you said I should never use my gifts to get money.” I was confused. Why must I let Daddy know what I could do if I couldn’t do what Daddy wanted me to do?

“It will be all right, Denise. This is what will turn his heart and mind to Me.”

My reading of the Mendenhall’s account has helped turn my heart and mind more purely to Christ.

To all of you out there who have been the recipients of my begging for money, I ask your forgiveness. I was out of line.

You still might be asking yourself the question, “If everyone were to do what you are doing, then where would the money come from to support us all?”

The answer to that question is that in Zion, everyone does what they are gifted at doing, and they offer their services free of charge. Freely we receive, freely we give.

And I do not think that “gifts” are confined to matters of the spirit. A person who is gifted at building a house received this gift from God. In Zion, there is no distinction between temporal and spiritual gifts, for all things are spiritual unto the Lord.

That is how there are no poor in Zion. Because of the diversity of the body of Christ, some are gifted primarily at music, others are gifted at repairing automobiles, others are gifted at paving road surfaces, others are gifted at building beautiful cabinets, others are gifted at telling inspiring stories from history, others are gifted at inventing new computer software.

And because in Zion everyone does what they are gifted at doing, loving what they do, and finding fulfillment in it, there is no want, only abundance.

There is no reason we cannot have Zion here right now. Some people already do. The Mendenhalls do.

I want Zion. I think we all do. Let’s do it! And let’s start by being it!

Sincerely your brother in Christ,

Sterling D. Allan
Oct. 24, 2001