One day in the early months of J.D. Edwards & Co (circa 1977), I needed a haircut. Without any prior knowledge or research performed, I stumbled into a barber shop in the Denver Tech Center:
“Hi, I’m Ed. Any wait?"
“No sir, sit down right here young man.”
“This will be your simplest haircut of the day. Just a #4 all over, and I’m outta here,” I smoothly replied.
The barber introduced himself as Ivan. As he buzzed my scalp, no beard in those days, he started rambling on about the weather and the Broncos… Snooze…He quickly lost my attention since he knew nothing about software or old convertibles.
“Do you go to church?” he asked.
Hmmm, getting a bit personal I thought…I get uncomfortable around “syrupy gooey” Christians.
“Yup, we go to the Presbyterian Church on Orchard and Broadway.”
“Do you tithe?” he continued.
Hmmm, he’s really getting personal now, I thought to myself. It’s time to throw him a grenade:
“Hell no,” I quickly retorted.
“That [tithing] is an old fashioned biblical concept from before we had a welfare system and graduated income tax rates. And besides that, if you give money to a church all they will do is piss it away on brick and mortar, and they won’t help anybody – hell no I don’t tithe!”
“No Ed, you don’t understand,” Ivan said. ”God gave us tithing to benefit you ‘the giver’ not ‘the receiver.’ And, He promises if you tithe ten percent of your first fruits, you will get it back tenfold and, more importantly, you will be free from the sin of greed.”
Hmmm...this was some haircut I was getting. At the dinner table that night with my wife, Carole, and our three school age children, we discussed the events surrounding my haircut that day, namely Ivan. The children seemed to understand immediately everything that was said. And, as a family, we agreed to start tithing 10% of our first fruits. My gross income at the time was $36,000, so we set aside $3,600 right off of the bat. We decided how much went to our church, then Young Life, then two other charities. We went on that way for 20 years until J.D. Edwards went public and then our giving went way up! Wow, much more than a 100-fold return, and I can’t remember ever feeling greedy.