My oldest daughter went to a private university. Private universities don't charge tuition, they just say, "Send all the money you have." And they had taken all I had. Shortly after that, I was speaking at a conference and expecting a good honorarium to help me take care of the tuition.
Some people wear their quirks on their forehead. They're easy to identify. The stingy ones are not so easy to spot. But stingy was glowing on this guy's forehead. When I got off the plane I immediately knew I was in trouble. The guy picking me up said, "I parked in remote parking," as I stood there holding a suitcase in each hand. Remote parking is about a mile away. He saved about seventy-five cents. We carried the luggage all the way to the car, and he took me to the motel. When I speak for longer than a day I usually get a rental car. I was going to be there for three days so I asked about a rental car. This guy told me he wanted to save some money and to just call him when I needed to go somewhere and he'd take me.
He dropped me off at "Joe's Motel/Bait Shop/Chinese Food & Dry Cleaners," one of those all-in-one places. You can tell a good motel by dropping the glass. In the good motels, the glass will break and the soap will bounce. In a bad motel, the soap will break and the glass will bounce. Also, the TV bolted down, a required damage deposit, and the restaurant taking Blue Cross Blue Shield are good signs of a bad motel. I was trying to be spiritual and content in Joe's. I had to call to get anywhere, and we did a lot of royal dining at places like Burger King and Dairy Queen.
We had a great meeting. A lot of people came and many decisions were made. Thursday morning he came by as I was checking out. He said (as he looked at the bill), "There are some personal phone calls here on the bill and you wouldn't want the church to pay for those." I wanted to say: "Those are calls to you, to come pick me up because you're too stingy to let me have a rental car!!!" But I was trying to be spiritual. I paid the money for the calls. We got in the car and parked in remote parking, and I walked back to the airport. By this time, I was pretty ticked off and started to pray about it as I got on the plane. I opened the honorarium check and it was pitiful. He'd taken out all the expenses, and I was down to about nothing for three days. I started to complain to God, "This is why I didn't want to get into church work in the first place. You have people like this!" And then God told me something. When we had reached an altitude of about 38,000 feet and were really close to the home office so I could hear God pretty well. He said, "Shut up! That guy may have been stingy, but he is not the only middle man I have. I can take care of you. Be cool, drink a Diet Coke, and relax." So I just let it go.
I got back to my office and went through my mail. There was a letter from a church where I'd been about two months before. Included was a check from the church and a note that said, "After you left, there was such a response for your tapes, we duplicated and sold them. Here's the money." It was a great check. More than I thought I'd get at the other place. Why worry about stuff like this? God is loaded. He has it all. Yet, so many times, we want to grab for what we think we need, and God wants to give to us what He wants us to have. Amazing things happen when you just depend on God.
I went on a clothes fast last year. I had become an adaholic. I would see the 66 percent off sale and feel like I had to be there. But then I was nominated for the VISA Hall of Fame and knew that things were getting out of control. So I stopped buying clothes – no new ties. After a few months, an amazing thing happened. I would show up to speak and in my motel room would be a tie. Who gives ties? I usually get Diet Coke and Snickers as a welcome gift, but ties? It was almost like God was saying, "Look, you're looking a little sloppy, I'll get you some new ties." So I quit speaking for churches and businesses. Oh, I still go to those places, but I'm speaking for God. He pays better and gives free ties.