Financial Fingerprints

October 2017 Good $ense Newsletter: Financial Fingerprints

Dear Good $ense Friends,

My oldest daughter, Faith, is 4 years old and in our church’s Pre-Kindergarden. Recently, I was visiting her class during circle time. All the 4- & 5-year olds sit on a circle shaped rug intently listening as their teacher reads a story, provides encouragement and gives instructions on their next activity.

Ms. Crystal presented their activity instructions starting with a piece of paper with an outline of a cross. Each student was to take their little fingers and press against some ink then press their fingers on the paper inside the cross outline filling it with vibrant colors mimicking a mosaic painting.

“Class, do you know how I know each of you are special to God?” No, shook several little heads. “Well I know you are special because God created you and there is no one else in the entire world that has your exact same finger prints. Not your mom or dad or brother or sister. Just you, you have your very own finger prints.”

As I watched each child get up from the circle rug and create their mosaic finger printed cross, I looked down at my own fingerprints. Ms. Crystal was correct, we are all special and uniquely created in the image of God. It reminded me of Psalm 139: 13-15 MSG:

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;

    you formed me in my mother’s womb.

I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!

    Body and soul, I am marvelously made!

    I worship in adoration—what a creation!

You know me inside and out,

    you know every bone in my body;

You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,

    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.

This is true about our body, mind and soul. God created each one of us to be different. To have unique life experiences that shape our opinions, even our opinions around money. Much like our finger prints, we each have a motivation when it comes to money, based on a variety of factors, such as temperament and life experiences. Often the meaning of money and the way it motivates us is subtle and something we are not always aware of.

In Freed-Up Financial Living, one of the pre-work assignments for participants is to complete a 14-question quiz identifying their individual opinions, views and motivations when it comes to money.  The quiz helps participants to understand their behavior regarding money by identifying their primary money motivation and its meaning. This can help members of your congregation understand why they seem to be “stuck” in certain financial behavior patterns. The primary money motivations are:

  • Freedom. To you, money means having the freedom to do what you like.
  • Security. You need to feel safe and secure, and you desire the stability and protection that money supposedly provides.
  • Power. Personal success and control are important to you, and you appreciate the power money sometimes provides.
  • Love. You like to use money to express love and build relationships.

Once participants identify their primary money motivations, they continue through a six week course to learn foundational Biblical principals in money management.

Help members of your congregation discover their own money motivations and learn to apply Biblical financial principles in their lives. You can find the Money Motivation Quiz on our Resource page for Freed-Up Financial Living, in the Teaching Tools section. For more information, click here: https://goodsensemovement.org/resources/freed-up-financial-living/.

 

Blessings,

Brooke Bartlow

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

 


A Second Look at a Familiar Passage – Matthew 6:24

A Second Look at a Familiar Passage – Matthew 6:24

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)

In stewardship circles, we often quote this verse as a caution against serving money and materialism as a master. Jesus makes it clear that we cannot serve God while also serving money – we must choose. Coming on the heels of Jesus’ warning against storing up treasures on earth (Matthew 6:19), the message is clear: Choose heavenly treasure and serving God over earthly treasure and serving money.

We serve money when we store up treasures on earth. But serving money is broader than this. We also serve money when we put our own basic needs ahead of the kingdom. Immediately after the warning about serving two masters, Jesus goes on to give an illustration of the difference between serving God and serving money:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.” (Matthew 6:25)

That worrying about our basic needs is connected to serving money is made clear by the connecting word, “therefore”. The concept of Matthew 6:24-34 is this: “You can’t serve both God and money; therefore, don’t put all your attention on your own earthly needs. Seek God’s kingdom first, and trust him to meet your needs.”

Most of our congregation members aren’t worried about things like food and clothes. We don’t live as close to the edge as the first-century Jews did. For us, the “worries” tend to be more about things like saving for our kids’ college or their weddings; putting aside money for our retirement; or saving for the next car or house.

What are some ways that we today might store up treasures on earth or focus on our own needs to the detriment of seeking and advancing the Kingdom? The answer will vary by person, but here are a few common ones:

  • Buying all the house or car we can afford vs. buying what we really need and using the difference for kingdom work
  • Reducing our giving in order to focus on saving for an event or a purchase
  • Working multiple jobs in order to facilitate a more lavish lifestyle instead of living more simply and committing time to serving the poor

No one can judge where the balance should be for someone else, of course – it’s not up to us to judge the servant of Another. But this passage challenges us each to examine our own lives to see where our treasures truly are and to consider whether we are seeking first God’s kingdom or putting first our own needs and desires.


Stewardship Transformation pt. 5: Make It Happen

Stewardship Transformation pt. 5: Make It Happen

Over the course of the year, we’ve looked at some applications of Michael Hyatt’s “Best Year Ever” teaching to our personal stewardship. We started by looking at some beliefs that limit us – lies of the enemy that discourage us before we get started down the path of stewardship. In April, we discovered the importance of understanding how we got to where we are, recognizing that if we don’t complete the past, we’ll never be able to fully move forward. In June we turned the corner to look at designing the future, emphasizing Hyatt’s concept of SMARTER goals. Last time, we emphasized the importance of understanding the motivations behind our stewardship goals – finding our “why” so that we have the motivation to continue when obstacles arise.

In this newsletter and the next, we’ll conclude the series by looking at Hyatt’s twelve steps for realizing our goals. We’ll take the first six steps this month and conclude next month with the last six. Note that these are not necessarily in chronological order, but are different steps to take to stay on the path.

  1. Get off your “but”. Don’t let circumstances become excuses for not making progress. Recognize the circumstances, update your goals if necessary, but remember why you’re on the path of stewardship. Don’t settle for, “I’d love to get on a budget, but…” thinking.
  2. Don’t overthink it. This one is my favorite, because it’s my biggest tendency. Planning can become a substitute for action. The best plans are the ones you actually put into action. Remember, it’s easier to turn around a car that’s moving than a car that’s parked. Move in a direction, and make adjustments as you need to. So, for example, don’t spend month after month trying to figure out a budget. Get one down on paper based on your best estimate of monthly spending, then track and adjust as you need to.
  3. Chunk down your goals. Stewardship is more of a marathon than a sprint, and you can’t start the marathon at the finish line. You need to take step after step, and achieve mile after mile. Break down bigger goals into smaller, more manageable ones. This has the dual advantage of providing the encouragement of accomplishment and of confirming that you’re on the right path toward the bigger goals.
  4. Get it on your calendar. This goes for both goals and tasks. So, for example, use the “debt snowball” method to plan actual months when each debt will be retired. This will help you chunk out the goal of retiring debt and keep you on track. Plan a daily time for recording expenses and a monthly (or more often) time for reviewing your expenses against your budget. Plan dates for key tasks like getting your credit report.
  5. Honor your commitments. Pray about your financial goals before setting them, and then commit the goals to God when you set them. Stewardship is a key element of spiritual growth, so consider your stewardship goals as commitments to God for your growth. Make every effort to be true to your commitments (avoiding excuses, as noted above). When you fail (and we all fail at times), confess it and receive God’s forgiveness; understand the reasons why (see below); and make adjustments and move forward.
  6. Review your goals and key motivations. A budget is one goal. If you create a budget but never actually review your expenses against that budget, it does you no good. Similarly, review your progress toward other key goals such as debt retirement, savings, and giving. Keep your goals alive by keeping them updated, and remind yourself regularly of why your goals are important (go back to the “finding your why” exercise).

These aren’t steps to perform in isolation, but rather key activities to keep your goals in front of you and to keep you moving toward them. Often, many of these need to be considered together. For example, suppose you fall behind in your plan for debt retirement. First, you won’t know you’re behind unless you’re reviewing your goals and progress against them.

If you then come to realize that a key factor was an unexpected repair, don’t let that become an excuse or a discouragement in the way of debt retirement. Instead, review your motivations to understand why debt retirement is important to you (and to God!); confess any sin or unwise action that might have contributed to the problem (for example, lack of an emergency savings fund to handle the unexpected expense); and adjust your goals as needed (see if you can make some budget adjustments that will get you back on track, or revise your dates for the debt snowball, then recommit yourself to those dates in prayer).

In the final installment of this series next newsletter, we’ll look at the last 6 steps for “Making it happen”.


Spread the Stewardship Word pt. 5

Spread the Stewardship Word pt. 5: Freely Receive, Freely Give

As stewardship leaders, we understand that Biblical stewardship is a part of discipleship. Leading our congregations in the area of stewardship is one way in which we obey Jesus’ command to “make disciples”. In a very real sense, Jesus has “sent” us to our congregations, just as he sent the disciples out (see Matthew 10).

As he sent out the disciples, he commanded them: “Freely you have received; freely give” (Matthew 10:8). Jesus had spent much time with the disciples, building into them and teaching them. He was not asking them to give what they didn’t have; rather, he was asking them to pass on what they had learned and experienced of him.

Similarly, as stewardship leaders, we can’t pass on what we have not received. Taking our responsibility to make stewardship “disciples” seriously means, among other things, committing to being disciples ourselves, learning directly from the Word and from the teaching of other leaders in the area of discipleship.

As a new ministry season rolls into high gear, why not make this a year of discipleship that you can pass on? One place to start is the list of key scriptures Good $ense has assembled in our Biblical Financial Principles document. Review these principles and supporting Scriptures; study them in context; maybe even memorize a few that are especially meaningful to you.

Next year, we will feature a regular column reviewing key stewardship-related books as an aid to ongoing learning and development in this key area of discipleship, and as resources you can pass on to your congregations.


Stories of Transformation