Friday, March 13, 2009

Edwin C. Shipp Journal Entry on Tithing

24 Feb 2003 (SLC, UT 84108-2465)

FOR THE RECORD:

Leila has requested me to jot down a few instances concerning times we have observed that following the LAW OF TITHING has benefited us.

I might begin by saying that we are thoroughly converted to this principle, as to all the other principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We have learned, by study, inquiry of those in authority, and by prayer, what is really meant by “10% of our increase.” I don’t have any recollection of paying tithing as a child, although I believe my parents must have guided me in my early years.

When I was at the U[niversity] of Utah, it was during the depression years when grown men with families were out of work, that the best [work] I could obtain was cherry and other fruit picking. One day, in the sand of the orchard, I found a diamond ring and turned it over to the orchard owner.

He told me that if nobody claimed it in a month’s time, he would give it to me. I am certain that I prayed earnestly about that for the whole month. At the end of the month, he handed it to me. I in turn handed it over to my father—things were tough in those days. He must have not considered that I would ever have need for a diamond ring, so he sold it to Daynes Jewelry for $100, and gave me the money. I think it must have been a fairly large diamond to have been worth that much in 1935 dollars!

I had always wanted a checking account, so I immediately opened up an account. The first check I ever wrote was for 10% tithing. My next check was $5.00 for a pair of football shoes, with cleats, which I had always wanted. My job around home was cutting the front and back lawns, (878 Amanda Ave [SLC, Utah]). Now my father had a “splendid” idea. He said, “Son, if you wear those shoes to do your job, and run, you will develop leg muscles.”

So I donned the shoes, and proceeded to cut each lawn going north and south, and then also east and west, running all the while. . . . Later, in the Danish mission during my physical exam, the doctor turned me around, and said “You must have done a little running in your days!” Little did he know how much. Well, so much for that.

Then I went east to work for the G[eneral] E[lectric] Company as a salaried employee with a certain amount of “take-home pay,” which was $0.70 per hour for a 40 hour week, with no overtime. So I paid 10% of take-home pay, considering it full tithing.

Then, after the end of World War II, I left GE CO to return to Utah and start Shipp Electric. My accountant was Paul Tanner, a missionary companion. When he gave me the year-end figures, he said, “Lets see what your tithing might be.” He then proceeded to take 10% of our gross profit. I remonstrated, telling him that some of that was in the form of accounts receivable and would likely never be collectible.

That got me to thinking, so I went to our Midvale Bishop Beckstead for advice. He was a salaried man and didn’t care to give me an opinion, but suggested that I ask SL Temple President McDonald, as I was a Temple worker. This I did and he was quick to say “I don’t know.” He referred me to Pres. LeGrand Richards with whom I was well acquainted.

Well, I had really got myself into it that time. He told me how he had been in the real-estate business, when he was sent to California to preside there, and he had lots of accounts receivable which he never did collect—”and I never did ask the Lord to make me a refund, did I?—and I made out all right, didn’t I!!” Can’t you just hear him saying it—it was just like Conference.

Well, he was telling me “tithe the gross profit.” I went one step further, and went to my former mission president, Mark B. Garff with my question. His only remark was, “Ed, you are learning a little about tithing now, aren’t you.”

Now came the “acid-test.” What to do about it? Leila and I sat down together and talked it over. Together we decided that we wanted to be 100% ERs and tithe the gross. So we went back over our records starting with our first GE Co. check and refigured tithing on the gross amounts before deductions. Then we wrote a check for the amount and turned it in, knowing that we were now 100% square on our tithing with the Lord, as far as we could calculate. Our souls were filled with joy, and we felt that the Lord was pleased with our action.

Since that time, many times our year-end increase has been several times the whole amount of that tithing check we first figured on the gross amounts. We have been greatly blessed.

Another instance of a financial blessing—not exactly related to tithing however: We were assessed a building fund amount for the Midvale Chapel, which we willingly paid. Bishop Beckstead came to us again later, asking us for whatever we could give in addition, so that he could pay off the full Church amount and allow President LeGrand Richard to come out at Christmas time and dedicate the new building. Leila and I decided to duplicate our original donation. We didn’t have the ready cash. How to do it!!

We approached three of our material suppliers—GESCO, Graybar, and WESCO—with the idea of [them] agreeing to let us remit our usual monthly checks to them a month late, but without sacrificing any cash discounts. This was asking quite a favor, but we had always been prompt in pay[ments] and when they found out our reason for the request, they agreed.

Well, on Sunday we paid our decided amount. Then guess what!!!! On Monday, here came a check in the mail from a long-delinquent account, which we had written off as a bad debt. The check was for enough to cover our Sunday’s check, plus an amount to cover our tithing, and a few dollars left over. Once again our souls were filled with joy and we knew that the Lord was pleased with our action.

I give my beloved wife, Leila, much love and credit for being in tune with the Holy Spirit and being with me all the way in trying to be a 100% member of the Lord’s true Church. We have tried, to the best of our knowledge, to keep all the commandments and hold out faithful to the end. Leila has a saying: “If you almost keep all of the commandments, you will almost get the blessings.” How true!! Another of her sayings: “The Lord has blessed us with good health—we had better be up and doing.” Again, very true!!!

To use legal language, I must say that I, Edwin C. Shipp, am of sound mind and do certify that the above accounts are accurate and truthful. With love to all who read this.

______________

[Editorial note: Tithing is left by the Church as an individual decision. The Lord has said it is “one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever, for my holy priesthood, saith the Lord,” (D&C 119:4; note that tithing will not cease when consecration is implemented). As Edwin learned, owning your own business presents tithing questions that those who are employees do not face. Tithing for an employee is usually considered 10% of the money an employee is paid by their employer. The question of what constitutes tithing for an owner of a business is very different and is more easily understood by realizing that the company and the owner are two different entities. A business brings in revenue which is company money. It remains company money and is used to run the business: revenue must pay for advertising, consulting, computer and office equipment, maintenance and repairs, upgrading of equipment and software, employee salaries in all departments, leasing costs, stamps, pens and pencils, bank expenses, legal fees, travel and food costs, heating and air conditioning, city utilities, cleaning and supplies, employee benefits, property taxes, sales tax, etc., etc., etc., etc., and finally profit (if any) paid to the owners or shareholders. Only when the money leaves the company and passes to the owners/shareholders is the money then theirs! That is a true business principle. None of the money is the owners’ while it is in the company. (This is a critical lesson for an owner to learn and understand.) If the owners eventually liquidate and close the company, then all monies that are left (1) when all company debts have been paid and (2) that are in excess of the amount that initially capitalized the business—what the owners end up with as a real profit which they put into their personal bank accounts—represents their increase in the venture, and which they then would tithe as their increase.

[Here is proof of this principle: At one point when Alan Ashton was part owner of WordPerfect, (in the days when it was really “cranking”), WordPerfect was bringing in a million dollars a day (in gross revenue). That revenue stream had to pay for everything all business operations (see list above). What Mr. Ashton received as his income from the business was paid to him by WordPerfect. That amount was his increase and that is the amount he tithed. I suggest—considering the many expenses in running that large company—that the amount he was paid (as an owner) was less than 10% of the gross revenue, and therefore he could not possibly have covered a 10% tithing of the business’ incoming gross revenue. It should be obvious that he was not being paid enough money to do it. And the Lord does not plan for us to go into debt to pay tithing! That is not the tithing principle. One other point: Assuming that one of the other owners (Bastian) was paying his tithing, he would have needed to be getting 10% of gross revenue as well so he could pay his tithing. That would have meant that 20% of gross revenue was being paid to these two owners (if they were each were going to pay a 10% tithe on the company’s gross income). WordPerfect could not have sustained that payout to the owners (so they could pay their 10% tithing) and stayed in business (WordPerfect would not have been able to compete in the marketplace with such a “tithing overhead”). (Note: in this example of the two owners paying a 10% tithing on the gross revenue of the company, the company “increase” would actually be tithed twice—once by each owner! Of course, WordPerfect had three owners, Pete Peterson being the third. Suppose he also paid his tithing on 10% of company gross revenue—(even though he only owned 1%). That would then be 30% of gross company revenue going to tithing for the three owners. You see how running this example shows the extreme and untrue position in believing that tithing is gross company revenue for a business’ owner or owners.)

[One more example to illustrate this: Suppose you decide to capitalize a business to start it up. You are the owner. You have out-of-pocket expenses as you buy the equipment, pay the lease, stock inventory, pay utility bills, pay property and other business taxes including sales tax on sales, pay license fees, and hire and pay a part-time employee, etc. As the company does business, it has all these expenses and more. Like almost all small business startups, at the end of the first year of operation, you find that the company did not have a profitable year—it had only $17,000 gross revenue, while its operational expense (not including capitalization moneys) was $25,000. Here is the question: At the end of your company’s first year of business, do you pay 10% of the company’s first year’s gross revenue, ($1,700), even though overall the company lost money? (No.) Suppose that in the second year the company had a profit, (more money came in than was spent on expenses). Would you pay tithing on the entire gross revenue for that year, or only the portion of revenue that was greater than expenses? Since the first year was a loss, would you subtract that from the second year’s profit and then pay tithing on the difference? The answer to both these questions is also no. While the money is in the company, it is not yours, even though you are the owner. (If the company paid you a dividend or royalty either year, that is what you would tithe). So, the key again to understanding tithing when you are an owner of a business is to remember that you are not your company. The company is its own business entity, (even though it is your monetary investment at work). This means that unless the company pays you a dividend or royalty, (which then becomes your money), none of the company funds are considered yours. In this example, if at the year mark you had liquidated the business, your investment is a loss, irregardless that some revenue came in. (In liquidating the business, your total effort represents a negative dollar amount, therefore there is no increase and therefore no tithing due—you don’t pay tithing on the money you originally invested, just because you got some of it back! You had already tithed that money and the Lord doesn’t tithe us twice on the same money. If through some economic miracle the total amount from the liquidation of your business ends up being MORE than you put into the business, then you would have a business increase, and you would then tithe that increase. In the scenario presented here, that is not likely to happen!)

[The point is this: we can pay more than a tithe if we wish, and the Lord will bless us for being generous! But that is not tithing. It is more akin to consecration, though consecration is not tithing. What Edwin and Leila were doing was being very generous—and the Lord blessed them for it and sustained them. Among other blessings they received, was their exceptional health through their many years. Their contributions were representative of their faith and devotion to the Lord and His Church. They were “110% Saints,” and a great example for us all. Editor (RCS)]

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Richard, as we remember our heritage and example.

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