Gratitude Day 123 – Finances

Wed., Sept. 18, 2018

Mark 12:41-43 – Jesus sat across from the collection box for the temple treasury and observed how the crowd gave their money. Many rich people were throwing in lots of money. One poor widow came forward and put in two small copper coins worth a penny. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I assure you that this poor widow has put in more than everyone who’s been putting money in the treasury.

widow's mite

Recently, a few people have asked about our financial situation. Why is this? Are they being noisy? Or is there another reason?

Since stepping back from serving two churches, my income has changed. While I have a part-time job, our disposable income has declined. Inquiries about our finances refer to whether we have made significant financial changes since we no longer have this income.

The short answer? No, we haven’t.

How is this possible? Because we developed an attitude about finances long before I stepped back from serving the churches.

I am not a financial planner. Nor is Hubby Rick. We are comfortable, but I would not classify us as rich. There are a lot of people with more resources than we have. I also know a lot of people who do not have the financial security we do. Was there a time after I stepped away from the churches when I questioned if this was a sound financial choice? Yes. When I turned back to our basic view about finances, my soul quieted.

Rick and I look at finances from a rather simplistic view. At earlier times in our lives, we both did not felt the financial security that we do now. Implementing a few guidelines have helped us move to the position we are today. Let me share these simple guidelines.

  1. Everything we have has been “loaned” to us by God. While we may say it is “our” house or car or retirement account, we believe all of our possessions are really God’s. God has entrusted us to be caretakers of them. This allows us to hold a little less tightly onto the things in our care. We want to be excellent caretakers. We are thoughtful and often consult with God before making a decision. We want to leverage things in our care for the glory and honor of God’s kingdom. If someone has a need and I have the ability to provide for this need, I share. Have there been times we have been burned? Honestly, yes. But the joy we receive from assisting someone outweighs the negative feelings when a situation doesn’t turn out well. Remembering that God has entrusted us with many resources makes us appreciate our ability to bless others with them as well.
  2. We follow a statement coined by John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement: “Earn all you can, save all you can and give away all you can.” Rick and I work hard and dutifully earn our income. We manage our resources for today and the future. We have funds available for current expenses and choices. We also save for the future. One of the best financial decisions I personally made was starting to plan for retirement in my mid-20’s. Sharing with others is not an afterthought. It is expected.
  3. We give to God first. Before I was married, I discovered the joy of tithing. Yes, the joy. I began giving a percentage of my income to God first, before other expenses. My focus shifted from giving what I had “leftover” to blessing God first. Once I began tithing, the rest of my resources did not disappear as quickly. Rick and I have continued tithing. The principle of tithing encourages people to give 10% of their income back to God. For some people, 10% is impossible. For others, 10% is not enough of a challenge. I encourage people to pick a percentage and stick with it. There maybe a time when you should decrease this temporarily or increase permanently. Determine this in a discussion with God.
  1. Know the difference between a “want” and a “need.” We need a roof over our heads, vehicles to drive, food to eat and clothes to wear. Almost everything else is icing on the cake. Do Rick and I have more than our basic needs? Certainly. Is our house larger and improved beyond what we need? Without a doubt. Every time we venture into “want” choices, we try to be thoughtful. Will this “want” to be a way to leverage the resources entrusted to us for God? Do we do this perfectly all the time? Absolutely not. Yet, we try to be thoughtful.
  2. Develop financial guidelines and habits, especially if resources are tight. Often, people say they will get their finances in order when they are in a more stable situation. I felt it was imperative to be diligent when I had less, so I could maximize the few resources I had. It becomes easy to think, “When we have just a little bit more, then …” Yet, it is never quite enough. So many people spend more than 100% of their income rather than a number less than 100%. Make choices now. Let your guidelines become habits that you simply live every day.
  1. Monitor your resources. We don’t follow a budget. We follow our guidelines. Once a month, I do a quick evaluation of our finances. This provides a snapshot of our finances today, which become part of a larger historical trend we follow. I handle our finances. This means Rick is not as familiar with the day-to-day situation. I make sure Rick is aware of our financial trends over time, which drives our choices and decisions.

While I could add to the list, these are the most important financial guidelines we follow. Following them have provided us with a sense of financial security and knowledge that God is part of our financial team.

What are the most important financial guidelines that you follow? How have they influenced your choices over time?

For knowing that God provides guidance to our family financial resources, I am thankful.

It was the woman who gave everything financially she had who Jesus acknowledged and applauded. Lord God, teach our hearts to see what we have as a loan from you. May we discover ways to leverage the resources we care for, so they bring glory and honor to your kingdom. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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