Spread the Stewardship Word pt. 3

Spread the Stewardship Word pt. 3: Coming Alongside with Coaching

There are a number of ways to encourage members of your congregation in their stewardship journeys. We’ve talked previously about using social media and church resources such as bulletins and side screen announcements, and about going deeper with stewardship-related training and classes.

This month, we’re focusing one step deeper yet, on coaching. For many, stewardship classes such as Freed-Up Financial Living will provide all the information and inspiration they need to get on the road to financial freedom. But for others, additional encouragement and one-on-one coaching will be needed to help them move in the direction of God-honoring stewardship.

You can train Freed-Up Coaches to provide this key help and encouragement. Freed-Up Coaches come alongside congregation members who are struggling financially, offering Biblically-based coaching and grace-filled support to empower them to achieve financial freedom. Good Sense can help! Check out our Freed-Up Coaches resource to help you train coaches, or consider contacting us for on-site training.

Stewardship Transformation pt. 3: Designing the Future

Stewardship Transformation pt. 3: Designing the Future

In our previous newsletter we talked about completing the past, which helps us to understand why we are where we are – financially or in life in general. This month, we’re looking at the next step: Designing the future.

For the believer, designing the future is a balancing act between faith in a God who is ultimately sovereign on one hand and taking responsibility for the resources he has given us and for our place in his kingdom on the other. As a result, as with other steps in the process, designing the future must be done in a context of prayer – not just a quick “Lord, please guide me” prayer, but concerted prayer over our goals and plans.

In business, a common practice in planning is to set goals referred to as SMART goals, where each letter in the acronym describes an aspect of the goals. Michael Hyatt has adapted this acronym into one he refers to as SMARTER goals.

First, SMARTER goals are Specific. As we think about financial freedom, this means avoiding vague goals like “I want to be in better financial shape” or “I want to have more financial freedom”. These goals don’t push us in a direction. On the other hand, a goal like “I want to reduce debt” is specific enough to suggest actions (using cash instead of continuing to use credit cards, paying more than minimum payments, etc.).

Second, SMARTER goals are Measurable. A goal such as “reduce debt” is specific, but not measurable because it doesn’t have a target. Reduce by how much? Is a $10 reduction in debt over the period of a year success? We’d probably agree that it’s not. So setting a measurable goal means setting a criteria, such as “I want to reduce debt by $10,000” or maybe “I want to pay off credit cards X, Y, and Z”.

Third, SMARTER goals are Actionable. They’re written in such a way as to indicate actions to be taken, using active verbs rather than passive verbs. So a goal like “Be more disciplined in spending” doesn’t suggest any specific action. But a goal like “Establish a monthly budget” gives a specific action step to take.

Fourth, SMARTER goals are Risky. This is where Hyatt differs from the typical SMART goals, where the “R” stands for Realistic. Our goals should be difficult enough that they are worth celebration when we meet them. They should be goals that push us, not goals that we would accomplish just through normal living. Risky goals require faith. They should drive us to our knees in prayer, dependent on God for his strength and provision. At the same time, they shouldn’t be delusional. They should be difficult, not impossible, to attain.

Fifth, SMARTER goals are Time-bound. They have a target date. “Reduce debt by $10,000” needs a deadline date in order to encourage action. If the date is far enough out, we tend to procrastinate. But we take action when there’s a challenging date.

One of the keys to setting deadlines for goals is not to stack deadlines too close. For example, it might not be wise to set a goal for building an emergency fund and another goal for retiring all debt for the same date. In some cases, it will be necessary to prioritize goals, setting the deadlines far enough apart so that they can all be met.

Not all goals are “achievement” goals that have a specific deadline. Some goals can better be thought of as “habit” goals – objectives that describe patterns rather than specific achievements. An example would be, “I will write down my expenses for the day every night when I get home.” This defines the frequency and the time when the action will be taken. The more specific the definition of the habit, the better chance we have of meeting the goal.

Sixth, SMARTER goals are Exciting. They’re goals that motivate us and keep our attention. They’re goals worth celebrating when we accomplish them – which is one of the reasons they need to be a bit “risky”.

Note that part of the excitement can be generated by setting milestone goals, helping us to stay motivated on the way to the larger goals. The “debt snowball” is a good example of this, where we set goals for retirement of individual credit cards and loans on the way to being completely out of debt.

Finally, SMARTER goals are Relevant. They’re meaningful in our current financial situation. For example, it may not make sense to set a goal for investing while we’re still in debt.

Specific. Measurable. Actionable. Risky. Time-bound. Exciting. Relevant.

Do you have financial goals for this year? Are they SMARTER? How about the members of your congregation as you’re training them in Biblical stewardship?

Entering the Promised Land

Truths That Transform: Entering the Promised Land

On the cusp of attaining the long-awaited promise of God, the people gathered to hear the reports of the scouts they had sent into the Promised Land.

“The land is very productive and fruitful, just like God said, but the cities are fortified and very large. The land is inhabited by multiple different peoples, all of them powerful. We even saw giants there!”

“That’s all true, but God will be with us. We should go up and possess the land.”

“Are you kidding? We can’t attack these people – they’re way too strong for us. We seemed like grasshoppers compared to them. This isn’t going to work – we need to go back to Egypt.”

Ten of the twelve scouts sent out could see only the obstacles – walled cities, powerful people. Joshua and Caleb saw a different reality – the promises and faithfulness of God. Unfortunately, the people acted on the majority report, and lost the opportunity to enter the Promised Land.

40 years after Israel’s turning back, a new generation stood on the bank of the Jordan River, facing the same decision. This generation was determined to go forward, but God required a step of faith to get them there. When their parents had crossed the Red Sea, God had cleared a path through the sea in advance of their crossing. But this time, he told the priests to step into the flowing river carrying the Ark of the Covenant. As they stepped into the water, God stopped the flow of the river.

Are there people in your congregation looking longingly across the river at the Promised Land of financial freedom? Perhaps God is calling them to step into the river – to take that first step of faith toward financial freedom. For those who are focused on the giants in the land, you can help them by identifying those giants and focusing their vision on God. Here are some of the giants that God can defeat:

  • Budget. Do you remember the cartoons where a character would run off a cliff but not fall until he looked down? Many people think of budgeting this way – as long as they don’t look too closely, somehow they’ll be OK. They fear the truth about their financial situation. But understanding the truth is actually the first step toward freedom. The reality may be grim, but ignoring the reality – unlike in the old cartoons – won’t protect us. Meeting that reality head-on, in faith that God will provide, moves us toward financial freedom.
  • Debt. Like a huge wall surrounding a city, debt stands in the way of financial freedom. Scripture tells us that the borrower is slave to the lender – there’s no freedom there. Tearing down that wall requires planning and discipline – and, above all, faith. As we saw in the last newsletter, that faith can be bolstered by stories of God’s faithfulness in the past. Are there stories you can gather in your congregation that will help strengthen the faith of those who are intimidated by the wall?
  • Culture. Like an overflowing river, the pull of the culture sweeps us downstream, away from financial freedom. Constant advertising, pressure to keep up with neighbors or co-workers, opinions of family and close friends – these and other pressures add to our natural materialism and desire for comfort, creating a current that encourages us to spend money we don’t have to live a lifestyle we can’t afford. How can your church shine the light of God’s Word on this current, revealing the hidden assumptions and strengthening your congregation to stand firm against the pull of the culture?

Financial freedom truly is the promised land of stewardship. But, just as in Joshua’s day, the land is guarded by giants – obstacles that will discourage people from trying. As a stewardship leader, we encourage you to be a Joshua and a Caleb – encouraging your people into the promised land, with eyes focused not on the giants, but on the God of the promise.

Looking at Stewardship with New Eyes

June 2017 Good $ense Newsletter: Looking at Stewardship with New Eyes

Dear Good $ense Friends,
Recently, I found myself sitting in the patient chair of a new optometrist. For the last 16 years, I have visited a cornea specialist once a year. An accident with my contact lenses caused me to lose much of my vision in my left eye during my freshman year of college. That was painful for many reasons.

First, a major shift in my identity. I had always worn glasses only as a break from contacts; however in an instant I was no longer able to use contacts but now had to wear glasses each day to see. Second, my brain had to shift gears and start to use my much weaker right eye to compensate for the loss of vision in my left eye. This was a process and a tiresome adjustment for my brain.

Over time, this became my new normal. I simply wore glasses from the time I rose to the time I slept during all of my day to day activities, switching to prescription sunglasses for any outdoor time like driving or exercise. Each year during my visit, my doctor would say my eyes were healthy and strong; however contacts were not an option to chance my eyes being damaged again.

This year, I tried a new optometrist closer to my home. Completely to my surprise, the new optometrist said my eyes were healthy enough to try contacts. In fact, new contacts were available to fit my needs. This was once again a major shift. It took me several minutes to digest what he had said. For 16 years, I had anticipated and expected that I would never again wear contacts and that was completely okay with me. Now, I was hearing something new, something different. I would not be able to regain much vision; however, my eyes were in a much better position to allow contacts as part of my daily routine. Incredibly simple, yet profoundly impactful. My habits and patterns of everyday life would shift. My identity would change, I might not recognize myself. My family, especially my young children, would take more time to recognize Mommy. Now two weeks in, I am starting to recognize myself, my brain is adjusted and I am amazed at this new found opportunity for my sight.

Isn’t that the same with life…especially ministry? We can keep doing the same thing year in and year out. Then we get connected with someone new who pushes our thinking, maybe even shifts our perspective in a way we did not expect? The outcome is better, sometimes stronger than expected.

Perhaps you have facilitated stewardship courses for many years or maybe this is your first run. We change and our congregation members change. We live more life, experience more and need to relearn or shift our thinking. The principals in biblically based stewardship do not change, but the beauty of God’s design in teaching us about financial freedom is this is not a one and done experience. It is so much more! A lifetime journey, diving into the Bible to learn the matter of who we serve (Matthew 6:21), where our heart is in regards to money (Matthew 6:24) and what the love of money can lead to (1Timothy 6:10).

As we enter into summer, this is a perfect time to review the Good Sense Movement resources. Remember, just like my vision loss and vision regain experience, setting the time aside to truly review the materials before ministry kick off is essential. Perhaps God will give you a simple but impactful moment or shift in your thinking.

Dive into Freed-Up Financial Living to find a 6-week course focused on the basics of earning, giving, saving, debt and spending all communicated in a compelling and grace-filled approach. Consider spending time learning more about Freed-Up in Later Life, Freed-Up from Debt and Raising Financially Freed-Up Kids. Time spent reading and learning is never wasted. I pray that God will reveal something new to you

Click Here to view all Good Sense Resources.

Brooke Bartlow
Good Sense Movement
Transforming Finances!  Transforming Lives!
(844) Freed Up/ (844)-373-3387 x701

Stories of Transformation