Stewardship from the Inside Out

August 2017 Good $ense Newsletter: Stewardship from the Inside Out

Dear Good $ense Friends,

My daughters are growing up!  Later this year one will be entering college, one searching for the college that is just right for her, and one entering high school. Therefore, in the Yeomans household, there is a lot of focus on learning and thinking these days! I’d never really thought about it before but as stewardship leaders we’re really in the “changing-what-you-think-about” business. After all, someone once said, “You are not what you think you are but what you think, you are.”

Some might say that a person’s thoughts are their own business but that’s not really true. Every action is preceded by a thought. Sooner or later our thoughts become actions and thus the business of everyone around us. Jesus tells us, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart” (Luke 6:45). In other words, what’s in our heart (what we’ve thought about and reflected on) determines what we do. So if we want to do good and right things, it would be wise to follow Paul’s advice in Philippians 4:8 and think on “things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable and excellent or praise-worthy.”

Let’s tie all that back to stewardship ministry. I suggest a key thing we are attempting to do is change how people think about the four things they can do with money:

  1. Giving – from thinking selfishly to a mindset of outlandish generosity to God’s work in the world and to those less fortunate.
  2. Saving – from thinking only of spending everything now or of hoarding excess in bigger barns to a mindset of saving wisely for emergency and long term needs.
  3. Debt – from thinking of immediate gratification to a mindset of delaying purchases until funds have been accumulated so debt can be avoided.
  4. Spending – from thinking that is influenced by advertising and what others have to a mindset that asks questions like, “Do I need this?” “Is this the best price for quality received?” “Does this purchase potentially interfere with my relationship to God?”

May these summer months provide you opportunities for personal fulfillment and growth. And may the new “church year” starting in September be one in which your stewardship ministry grows exponentially in its impact – our culture is crying out for the answers which your ministry holds.

Sid Yeomans
Good $ense Movement
www.goodsensemovement.org
Transforming Finances!  Transforming Lives!
(844) Freed Up/ (844)-373-3387 x701

 


Stewardship and the Greatest Commandment

Truths That Transform: Stewardship and the Greatest Commandment

He had spent his life studying the Law. Keeping every single commandment all the time was impossible, of course, but overall he had been consistently obedient. He had spent most of his adult life teaching the Law to others, guiding them with regard to the Law’s requirements and how they applied in specific situations.

Lately, though, he had begun to think that there must be more. On the one hand, he knew that it was impossible to be fully obedient – as much as he had tried, there had been times when he had fallen short. And he had seen the same in all the other religious leaders. If perfect obedience was what it took to really please God, no one he knew – including himself – was hitting the mark.

And on the other hand, even when he was obeying every commandment he knew of, he still felt distant from God – as though perfect obedience was at once an impossible achievement and somehow also insufficient. Surely there was more to God and to knowing him than this!

As he listened to Jesus speak, he began to sense that this man knew God in a way that he didn’t, but longed to. The Pharisees and Sadducees, always caught up in minutia, had been trying to trap him in his words. But he could tell that Jesus’ answers came from a different understanding of God than the questions had. Perhaps this Teacher could help him zero in on what God really cared about.

“Teacher, which is the most important of all the commandments?”

“It’s this: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.’ And right next to that is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Yes! This was it! Finally, a purpose to life that he had not been able to find in all his efforts at obedience. Here was a mission, a reason to live – something that made sense out of the Law. Suddenly, he felt as if the Law had jumped out of his scrolls and into his heart.


Fast-forward 2000 years. Have you ever wondered why you take the effort to make a budget and to track your finances? Have you chafed at the idea of waiting until you had savings to pay for purchases, rather than simply putting them on credit like your neighbors do? Do you think of stewardship as the “Law” – a set of rules and guidelines to live by that ultimately become an end in themselves?

Good stewardship does provide guidelines for our finances, but the heart of stewardship is something much deeper. It’s love for God – knowing that He is the source and owner of all that has been entrusted to us, and desiring to please him in our use of those resources. It’s love for our neighbors, leading us to curb our own desires in order to have more to provide for those in need. Stewardship is the financial version of the Two Great Commandments.


Stewardship Transformation pt. 4: Finding Your Why

Stewardship Transformation pt. 4: Finding Your Why

In our last three newsletters, we’ve highlighted Michael Hyatt’s strategy for setting and achieving goals from his “Best Year Ever” seminar and have applied those specifically to stewardship. In February, we talked about our tendency to buy into “limiting beliefs” that discourage us and stand in the way of achieving our goals. We learned to replace those beliefs with “liberating truths” that focus on God’s provision for us. In April, we talked about the importance of “completing the past”, recognizing how we got to where we are and identifying any changes we need to make in order to achieve our stewardship goals. Last newsletter, we discussed “designing the future” – setting SMARTER goals that stretch us and honor God with our finances.

How have you been doing in these areas? We hope that the process we’ve laid out has been helpful to you. This month, we want to dive into what Hyatt calls “Finding Your Why” – uncovering the motivation behind your stewardship goals.

If you read this month’s Truths That Transform article, hopefully you discovered how Jesus’ two Great Commandments can serve as the motivation for a lifestyle of stewardship. And that’s a great place to start. But to really connect with these motivators, we need to personalize them. For example, I can say that I want to limit my lifestyle spending so that I can have more to share with others – and that’s certainly a motivation in line with the Two Great Commandments. But it may not be concrete or “real” enough to motivate me when I’m staring at the new 4K big screen TV with a much sharper image than my current TV. On the other hand, if I’m making a choice for a simpler lifestyle in order to donate more to provide for clean water in Africa through World Vision, that’s a concrete enough vision to motivate specific decisions.

Or suppose you have a goal of setting aside $10,000 a year for your children’s college education. Finding your why means listing the major reasons why it’s important to you to provide for your children’s education. Do you want to spare them the burden of significant debt coming out of college? What are you hoping your children will be able to achieve as a result of going to college? These become your motivations.

It’s important to set financial goals based on real information as opposed to “finger in the wind” guesses. Goals based on solid data carry more weight and are easier to motivate. In the above example, if the $10,000 a year was based simply on what you felt you could put aside (without any reference to what your children will likely need for college), then it can be easy to talk yourself out of making that goal a priority this year. In light of how much we want this vacation, maybe it’s OK to start the college fund next year. But if you’ve done the research and reached a data-based conclusion about how much money your children will need, then the savings goal becomes more imperative, and your motivations for reaching the goal stand on firmer ground.

Hyatt recommends identifying up to 5-7 motivations for each major goal, writing them down, and then ranking them in order of priority. The final step is to connect with each motivation both intellectually and emotionally. What would it mean to you to achieve (or not achieve) the goal?

So, for example, suppose you had a goal of getting out of debt. Ask yourself questions like, “How will my life be different if I achieve this goal?” “What will I miss out on if I don’t accomplish this goal?”

Here’s an example: Suppose you set a goal of getting out of debt. Motivations might include:

  • “I won’t be hassled by phone calls from bill collectors”
  • “I won’t worry about losing my house/car”
  • “I won’t worry about utilities being turned off
  • “I’ll be able to start saving for retirement”

Motivations like this can help keep your decisions aligned with your goals. When you’re making that next major purchase decision and you have a choice between more expensive and less expensive options, the thought of the relief you’ll feel when you’re out of debt and creditors aren’t calling any more can help guide your choice.


Spread the Stewardship Word pt. 4

Spread the Stewardship Word pt. 4: Stewardship Ministry

We’ve been talking this year about ways to help spread the Stewardship word in your church – through social media, training classes, and coaching. As churches get ready to kick off a new ministry season, this is a great time to consider taking the next step and starting down the path to a year-round stewardship ministry.

Here are some of the things God can do in the local church through a year-round stewardship ministry:

  • Remove money as a major stumbling-block to spiritual growth and transformation
  • Free believers from the crush of consumer debt
  • Change lives through creating an understanding of what it means to be a trustee – rather than an owner – of resources
  • Strengthen marriages by removing money as a contentious issue in family life and decisions.
  • Grow the church’s ability to fulfill its vision and mission as members are freed up to give with glad and generous hearts.

But how do you get started? A stewardship ministry is not a switch you can flip; like most ministries, it requires prayer and planning – and the support of your church’s leadership.

The best way to secure the support of your church leadership may depend on the size and structure of your church. In a smaller church, you may meet with the senior pastor and a few key lay leaders. In a large church you may need to meet first with an executive or associate pastor. Find out who has the decision-making authority on new ministries and whether there is a formal process for reviewing and approving new ministries.

The purpose of this initial meeting is to share the benefits of a year-round stewardship ministry, to identify whom it serves, and to secure approval and support in taking next steps to establish the ministry. At this meeting identify whom you will interact with between this meeting and a future meeting at which you will seek senior leadership’s formal approval.

Stewardship ministry is not about getting well-off members to give more to the church; nor is it a ministry only for those who are struggling financially. Stewardship is about helping your members understand and live out God-honoring principles with their finances.

Could your congregation benefit from some of the results listed above? If so, why not start the ball rolling as your church’s ministry season begins to take shape? We’d love to help! Learn more about starting a stewardship ministry on our website, check out our Freed-Up Stewardship Ministry Pack, or contact us with your questions.


Stories of Transformation