For many Christians, handling money in the right way can be a challenge. In this culture of easy credit, some families find it difficult to manage their income and expenses properly, and some even find themselves a slave to creditors. Whether you are just starting on your financial journey or are retired and planning for the next generation, we will discuss how to avoid common mistakes that many people make and be the best steward of what you have been entrusted to manage.
Have a Plan
I know that many of you are rolling your eyes right now and wanting to tell me that this isn’t anything new. I would agree with that sentiment, but much of the data tells us that less than five percent of families have a written plan of their financial goals and how they intend to achieve them. Early in life, families establish patterns and habits that follow them throughout their years. We have found that the best place to start is fully understanding your actual income and expenses and then discussing what financial goals you might have. We love working with families to help them through this process, but you don’t have to work with a professional. You just have to be willing to be completely honest about where you are and how you will get to where you want to be.
For example, you may have a heart to support missions, but if you fall short each month in paying your bills, you need to be honest about where you are willing to sacrifice to support the ministries God has put in your heart. It might not be that you have to cut something out of your budget, but it might mean that you decide to increase your income. Whenever I teach classes to newly married couples, I tell them that there is no magic bullet. You either have to spend less or earn more.
Don’t Measure Your Success by Someone Else
I remember when the light bulb went off for me! I was in my early twenties, and I was working myself to death because I had this silly goal of wanting to amass a certain amount of money by a specific age. I wanted to be a millionaire by the time I was forty years old. I look back at that now and see how worldly and foolish it was to set such a goal.
In Philippians 2:3-4, Paul writes, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” I realized that God has a unique path for each of us, and my ambition was to be pointed outward. I wasn’t to pursue “stuff” for myself and was to be serving those around me. God would take care of my needs as I strove to serve others.
It is very easy to fall into the trap of keeping up with the Joneses. Don’t get me wrong; money is not the root of all evil, but the love of money is! Don’t worry about someone else’s financial journey. Find out what the Lord has in store for your journey. It will be a heavy burden lifted from your shoulders when you have peace with God about how you should seek to help those around you.
The Scoreboard Is in Heaven
As Americans, we take for granted our standard of living and our ability to earn a good wage. I’m sure many of you reading this have traveled abroad and know how blessed we are. I remembered a story I heard recently about a family who received asylum in America after suffering persecution in a communist country. On their first trip to the grocery store, they walked down the cereal aisle and were presented with dozens of options. For several minutes, they stood there trying to comprehend what to do. Finally, the father spoke up and said, “Which one is for us?”
We see the world through our American perspective, and many genuinely don’t understand the needs around the world. I know you may be wondering what this has to do with scoreboards and heaven, but I think it’s simple. Are we laying up treasure in heaven, or are we just increasing our standard of living in the here and now because we don’t think that our financial decisions in this life have eternal consequences? As I said earlier, we shouldn’t compare our journey with anyone else’s, but are we doing all we can for the Kingdom? Do I believe that I am a trusted steward, or do I believe that these “treasures” are ultimately mine?
As believers, we need to be reminded that our life here is a vapor, and eternity is real. The world isn’t going to be fixed by politicians or some new form of government; the only answer is Jesus Christ. Matthew 6:21 reminds us, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I humbly ask that we all examine our finances and ask the Lord to show us where we might be missing the mark.
Start by having a plan, and then understand your unique journey and remember that anything we accumulate here will one day perish. As silly as it might seem, simple diversions and little financial investments in the Kingdom could yield huge returns for the Lord and bring Him the glory forever!
Joshua Stamm serves as president of Legacy Wealth Management. He and his wife, Dawn, have two adult children, Logan and McKenna. Joshua graduated from Liberty University and has several financial designations. With eighteen years of industry experience, he enjoys applying a discovery process that is natural and comprehensive, where the client’s goals and needs are put at the heart of the financial plan. He also specializes in assisting business owners with formulating a transition process and assisting in many areas of finance unique to the small business community. Joshua is active in several charitable organizations and believes deeply in connecting with the local community.