Drop-in-the-Bucket Giving

posted in: Faith, Generosity, Prayer | 2

A few months after I’d finished college, my wife and I moved to an unfamiliar city where we both had low-paying part-time jobs.  Our car was stranded curbside, needing a repair we couldn’t afford. The grand total of our cash on hand was $10. Time to pray.

As I reminded God of our needs, a bizarre thought intruded: “Send Glaphre $5.”  Glaphre had been our college youth pastor and an amazing spiritual mentor.  She was in full-time ministry, teaching seminars on prayer. Her ministry was funded by donations. But $5?  What difference could that possibly make?

Sure, the $5 impulse might be a God-prompt. But, frankly, it felt a little silly, so I pushed it aside.

But the next morning it came back even stronger: “Send Glaphre $5!”  So I did, enclosing a note: “If this came a day late, I apologize. God prompted me to send it yesterday, but I was slow to obey.”

I suspect I’m not the only one to feel like what I can give is too small to make a difference. I wonder if a boy who spent the day listening to Jesus teach 2000 years ago had that same feeling.  When suppertime came, Jesus said to Philip, “Would you run into town and pick up bread for 12,000 (5000 men plus women and children)?”  If you’ve ever doubted Jesus’ sense of humor, notice the glint in his eye as watches Philip’s deer-in-the-headlights response: “Even 200 days’ wages wouldn’t start to feed this crowd!”  (Not to mention that Panera could hardly cater 12,000 on a moment’s notice.)

Then Andrew, feeling a bit foolish, suggested, “There’s a little boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But that’s a drop in the bucket for a crowd like this” (John 6:9 MSG). I’d love to know what the boy was feeling.  Was he thinking, “Sure, Jesus can have my lunch,” but starting to work on a story to explain to his mom why he was coming home hungry? Did he feel honored?  Did he simply trust Jesus, watching expectantly?

We know how the story ends—everyone ate their fill with twelve basketsful of leftovers.  With Jesus’ touch, the boy’s drop-in-the-bucket gift turned into more than enough.

A couple of days after I mailed my $5, I got Glaphre’s note.  “Thank you,” she said.  “The day before your gift came I received a notice that I owe another $5 on my taxes.  Now I can pay it.”

When all I have is a little and I give what God asks, he delights in turning drop-in-the-bucket gifts into plenty.


  1. Have you ever felt like what you could give was too small to be worth giving?
  2. Is there a person or ministry God would like you to bless, even if all you have to give right now is a drop in the bucket?

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Follow Eddy Hall:

Author. Pastor. Consultant. Coach.

My lifelong passion has been to help the church become healthier. I have lived this out through youth work, urban ministry, denominational staff work, and pastoring; through writing, editing, and publishing; through consulting with churches throughout the U.S. and Canada. During this season, I am living out my call to help churches become healthier by focusing on helping church leaders become healthier and more fruitful, through writing, coaching, and leading retreats and training events.

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Alice MontesJason Porterfield Recent comment authors
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Alice Montes
Alice Montes

This is a wonderful reminder of God’s love.

Jason Porterfield
Jason Porterfield

Thanks Eddy for the thoughtful reflection. It’s a great reminder to be faithful in the little and trust that God can multiply our meager offerings.