“How Do You Tithe a Car?” New Era, July 1975, 5
One of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of my life is to become acquainted with the youth of today and see what they are doing with their lives. I am impressed that each young person today can do anything he wants to do or become anything he wants to become if he wants it sufficiently to do what is necessary. I see young men and women today who have the same character and purpose in life as the greatest of any past generation. I am deeply moved when I meet young people whose lives have a purpose, who have set goals and established priorities in their lives—goals and priorities evidencing a maturity not known by many adults. It is from the lives of these young people that I receive great inspiration.
Recently a good bishop in an area of the Church where our members are a small minority introduced me to one of his Aaronic Priesthood youth through a letter. He is one of those who has a purpose. May I in turn introduce him to you by quoting the bishop’s letter? I have changed the names to protect the privacy of those involved.
“The tithes we forwarded last Sunday to your office included, $800 from a young 16-year-old priest in our ward. The background of this contribution is such an outstanding example of dedication to the Church that this letter is written to share it with you.
“On Saturday I received a call from one of our ward members.
“‘Bishop, did you hear what happened to Roger Smith today?’
“‘No,’ I said.
“‘Well,’ the voice continued, ‘he received a call from a local radio station. They asked Roger a question, which he answered correctly. The station then informed him he had just won a 1975 Corvette Stingray.’ The caller hung up.
“My mind flashed back to when I was a youth and how a similar car would likely have influenced me. I started to worry. I could picture the results pulling Roger away from all we hold sacred.
“The next morning in priesthood meeting, one of our adults announced that something special had happened to Roger Smith and asked him to tell us about it. Roger arose and humbly said, ‘Yes, something special did happen to me. A week ago today I was ordained a priest.’ He sat down.
“During the week in our older seminary class, Ronald Green, a young convert of a little over a year, was giving the spiritual thought in devotional. He built his thought around the incident in priesthood meeting.
“‘Maybe Roger was somewhat embarrassed and didn’t want to mention the car. He may have been put on the spot. But he gave us a profound truth we should never forget. No worldly possession can in any way compare to the great honor and blessing of holding the priesthood of God.’
“These incidents thrilled me, but I was still worried about Roger—what would that car do to him?
“I next saw Roger at the church helping prepare for a party for activity night. I said, ‘Hi, Roger. I’ll bet you’re getting a lot of phone calls from the girls at school.’
“‘No, not so many,’ he responded, ‘but a lot from the boys.’
“‘What do they say?’ I asked.
“His reply, ‘They ask me when I am going to take them for a ride in my new car, and I tell them I’m not going to because I’m not going to take the car.’
“‘You’re not?’ I could hardly believe my ears. ‘How come?’
“Almost indignantly he said, ‘Because I’m going on a mission. They told me I could take $8,000 cash instead of the car. I’m going to pay my tithing on it and then put the rest away for my mission.’ What he was saying still didn’t quite sink in until he added, ‘Nearly all of the $8,000 is going to the Church.’
“I wiped a tear from my eyes and felt relief from worry and a strengthened pride in our youth. But I had yet another surprise. I called his mother and dad to tell them how proud I was of their son. The call gave me an opportunity to ask about his reaction when he first realized he had won a car. I had visions of him letting out a yell of worldly ecstasy. His mother said his first reaction was, ‘Now my mission is paid for, but how do you tithe a car?’
“In my calling, I am supposed to inspire our youth. But they are the ones who are constantly inspiring me. Why the Lord is so good as to bless such as I with the opportunity of working with these devoted young people, I’ll never know. Thank the Lord for our wonderful youth!”
It is my earnest prayer that all young men and women in the Church will set goals for themselves that will bring everlasting blessings.