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Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 7.54.08 AM“Excuse me, Coach McAuley,” one of my former students asked in junior English class.

“Yes, Mallory,” I replied, knowing this could be about absolutely anything.

“Can you define ‘success’ for me?,” she inquired—probably with the hope that she could distract me from the pending assignment.

“I can try, but there are some inherent flaws in your question.”


“Well,” I continued, “do you mean standard societal success or a successful life?”

I believe this is a good question for all of us to ask ourselves. Do we differentiate success and a successful life? If so, is that a good thing? I believe one of the hallmarks of being successful is to teach others to the absolute best of our ability. We are called to live a life that is pleasing to God and to let this be reflected by our speech and actions. Albert Einstein explains, “Example isn’t another way to teach, it is the only way to teach.”

Jesus is a teacher. Am I called to be like Jesus? Can I do it? I am a sinner just like everyone else, but the important thing is to keep trying.  Jesus will not give up on you. You should not give up on you either. So, what do I do? I teach. Teach what? English—bad answer. Young People—better answer. Everyone around me—good answer. My vehicle for teaching is English. Yours may be dentistry or accounting or fixing cars.

What does this have to do with stewardship? Stewardship is best learned through practice. Through stewardship we respond in love and devotion  by sacrificially giving to God. We can talk about it, think about it, and write about it, but until we put it into practice and give back to God what God has given to us, we can’t really understand stewardship.

You may have heard the quote that we should “Preach the Gospel, and if it’s necessary, use words”. I bring that up because I do not take writing this devotional lightly. I am praying for the Holy Spirit to use these words to inspire you. So, go ahead and give like never before. Give, as we all promised, of our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness. There is not a relationship in the world that cannot be enhanced by giving. Try it. Giving will set you free.

So, Mallory, here is how to lead a successful life: Give generously and teach others to give by example.

Earle McAuley
Earle is an English teacher at West Florida High School. He also serves as our church treasurer and co-teaches the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace class.


September 14 | Prayerfully consider how to best support the church with your stewardship. Ask God to give you the courage and desire to practice living generously and sacrificially.

September 15 | Brainstorm areas in your life that you can live sacrificially in order to give more to God, such as gifts, talents, and service.

September 16 | If you haven’t already, fill out and return your Estimate of Giving Card for 2016. (available in the church office or online)

September 17 | Ask a friend or family member to hold you accountable to your pledge to stewardship.

September 18 | Before you start your day, ask God to empower you to be an example to others. Ask for the courage to give generously and with a generous and willing spirit.

September 19 | Pray that our growing season doesn’t end today, but begins; that we use this season as a launch to continuing a life of discipleship.



Financial Peace University
Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University presents Biblical steps to get rid of debt, manage your money, spend and save wisely, and more! This class is taught often at First Church. Call the church office at  850-432-1434 to find out when the next session will be offered.


Harnish, James A. Earn. Save. Give. Wesley’s Simple Rules for Money. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2015.

Hamilton, Adam. Enough: Discovering Joy Through Simplicity and Generosity.  Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2009.

Nouwen, Henri J. M. A Spirituality of Fundraising. Nashville: Upper Room Books, 2010.