Do You Have A Philosophy Or A Theology When It Comes To Personal Finances?

Photo by Loan Leaders of America Inc.

Photo by Loan Leaders of America Inc.

Money Beliefs

I’ve been involved in studying and teaching the ways of personal finances now for 10 years. It’s been an interesting journey that has impacted my life in many ways; mostly good, some bad.

As I have been on this decade-long journey, it has been thought-provoking to discuss with people their own personal finance beliefs.

We all have a unique set of beliefs or philosophy about money that we arrive at in our adult lives from a variety of sources. The majority of our beliefs we tend to pick-up from our parents (we either embrace their beliefs, or go completely in the opposite direction). Other beliefs, we pick-up from friends and others closest to us. Finally, we pick-up various money beliefs from the society we live in – TV commercials, internet media, so-called financial experts, and so on.

The world’s financial philosophy says one thing. God’s financial theology usually says the exact opposite.

Here’s the weird thing, though. Those of us who name the name of Christ as our Lord and Savior tend to adopt the financial beliefs of our parents, friends, and society over what God’s Word tells us about money. Over the last decade of observing a lot of various money beliefs, I have concluded the following list of four money beliefs often held by Christians:

  • Money Belief #1: Money is worldly and a necessary evil to survive. Let’s not discuss it. Some Christians have a (false) belief that money is a carnal, worldly system that is completely separate from their faith journey. They’ve never been taught or never made the connection that God’s Word has a lot to say about money and possessions. These people may even have the belief that money is sinful and should not be part of our spiritual conversations.
  • Money Belief #2: Money is a taboo topic for the church world. Some Christians believe money is a taboo subject that should never be discussed in church, even though they do recognize that money is addressed in Scripture. I’ve had people tell me directly to my face that we need to stop discussing money in our church because it will run people off to other churches. These same people would probably be more in favor of and less embarrassed by having a sermon series on a Biblical theology of sex than a Biblical theology of money (Personal note: I find this completely bizarre, yet fascinating about our societal beliefs!).
  • Money Belief #3: I know what God’s Word says about money. I like my money system better. Now, leave me alone! Some Christians have a good head knowledge that the Bible does have a lot to say about finances. They have chosen to bury their heads in the sand on God’s money system in favor of the world’s money system. Their actions seem to say, “God, I think the world’s money system is a lot more sophisticated than Yours. Sorry, but I’m going to go along with the world’s system, because it’s better.”
  • Money Belief #4: I recognize that I am God’s financial manager. I will follow His instructions. In this final financial belief, Christians recognize that everything comes from the hand of God, and we are simply called to be good managers of everything that He has entrusted to us. This not only includes our finances, but also our time, talents, resources, and even our physical bodies. Everything we have, everything we are belongs to Him.

Defining The Terminology

So, let’s take a moment and define the terms that we’re talking about in this post.

Philosophy: a set of ideas about how to do something or how to live.

Theology: the study of religious faith, practice, and experience.

Let’s put this in even simpler terms: a philosophy is a life theory invented by man. Man’s theories are flawed and imperfect. A theology is a system of belief based on Scripture. If we believe that God’s Word is holy and without error, than a theological system of belief is flawless and perfect.

So What? Who Cares?

The big deal here for the Christian, at least in my mind, is the “why.” Why are Christians so willing to adopt a financial belief system that is flawed and imperfect when God has the very best financial plan laid out in His Word?

When we embrace His financial teachings, we avoid debt, we save money, we provide for the needs of our family, and we invest in the Kingdom of God through generous giving.

This financial lifestyle is in stark contrast to the world’s financial system.

In my next post, we’ll take a closer look at actually crafting a Christian personal finance theology based upon God’s Word.

Questions: What financial belief system are you currently operating under? An imperfect theory taught by the world, or a perfect belief system written down in God’s Word?

5 Ways To Be a Class Act Who Gets Noticed In A Crowd

Photo by Steven Depolo

Photo by Steven Depolo

The Great Divide

I work with a lot of different people. I work with ministry volunteers, I work with church staff. I even work with a few volunteers and organizational people outside of the church world. I work with busy professionals. I work with retired people. Old, young, busy, healthy, or maybe even sick. I’m sure we all have dealings with a wide variety of people.

Not all these people are on an “equal” level, though, in their respective ministries or organizations. There is often a great divide between those who are just part of the crowd and going with the flow, and those who stand out from the rest of the crowd.

The people who always stand out in mind are those who have special, unique qualities. Here’s a listing on my top five ways to stand out in any crowd of people and get noticed.

5 Ways To Stand Out From The Crowd

  1. Be early. When I first typed this, I wrote “Be on time,” but honestly being on time should be the minimum standard. The sad reality is that not very many people are even on time to their commitments. At the very least, we should all be on time to appointments and activities. Being early is what can set you apart from everybody else. And, being early can even score you some face time with leaders.
  2. Keep your word. Communicate. Be dependable. Our culture is becoming increasingly more and more convenience oriented. People will tell you one thing on one day, and then change their mind a few days later completely based on what is convenient for them in that moment on that particular day. Keeping your word, though, doesn’t depend on convenience. It depends on character. Be a man or woman of character, not convenience.
  3. Be prepared and do your best work. If you want to be noticed in the crowd of people and even within crowds of other leaders, then you must show up prepared. You need to know any and all material backwards and forward. You need to research. You need to study. You need to practice. Throw yourself into your preparation 100%. Give it your all. You’ll stand out because most people just go halfway.
  4. Have a great attitude. While you’re showing up early, keeping your word, and being prepared, come in with a great attitude. If you need to “fake it until you become it” then so be it. People are attracted to positive attitudes, not negative ones.
  5. Be proactive. Look around. Look ahead. Are there possible problems that can and should be addressed sooner rather than later? Can you be part of the solution? Express your concerns, then offer great solutions that work.

Questions: So, do you think you stand out in a crowd? Are you early to your commitments? Do you keep your commitments, even when it’s inconvenient to do so? Do you show up prepared and do awesome work? Do you have a great attitude? And finally, are you proactive at offering amazing solutions to problems?

Do you have additional ways to stand out in a crowd? What has worked for you in your own unique situation?

Are You Simply A Volunteer Or Are You Called To Ministry?

Photo by SJU Undergraduate Admissions

Photo by SJU Undergraduate Admissions

Volunteerism vs Calling

I’ve been involved as a leader in church ministry for the last 16+ years. I’ve had as many as 35-40 volunteers at any given time under my direct leadership during this 16 year period. Throw in the typical ministry churn that takes place in churches, and I would guess that I’ve seen 250-300 volunteers pass through my ministry alone.

As I’ve worked in the church world during this time, I can clearly see who shows up as a result of a spirit of volunteerism, and who serves because they feel the calling of the Lord to be a part of ministry. I’m not talking some crazy, mystical “God spoke to me in a dream after eating pizza last night” kind of experience, either.

Here’s what I have observed over the years:

  • Volunteers serve only when it is convenient. Called ministers serve during times of convenience as well as inconvenience.
  • Volunteers put in a “half-hearted” effort. Those called by God give their very best effort.
  • Volunteers want to quit at the first sign of a problem. Called ministers will dig in and persevere.
  • Volunteers can always find lots of reasons to complain and be unhappy. Those called of the Lord serve with a spirit of joy and thanksgiving.

In my own ministry, I was recently reminded of the importance of the call into ministry for those under my direct leadership.

3 Important Reminders For Our Call Into Ministry

  1. Each one of us has a calling into ministry. Being a part of a specific ministry is more than volunteering. Hopefully, we have not been begged or coerced into using our gifts and abilities for ministry. We’re either called by God or we’re not called, and that’s okay. If God does call us though, we need to be obedient to that call.
  2. We are simply “stewards” or managers of our calling. In other words, “our individual positions are not really our positions.” Here’s what I mean: God has placed you in a specific position at a specific time in your church’s history. Right now, you’re responsible to be the best manager of your specific calling until the Lord decides that calling needs to change. All of us need to lead well, today, and then we need to do an awesome job of handing off the baton to the next called person sometime in the future.
  3. The mission of the church or a specific ministry must always move forward. This should be the primary purpose behind our calling. God will see that His purposes are fulfilled whether or not we remain faithful in our calling. We may even be moved on by Him to a different mission. Always keep your focus on the overall mission of your church body as well as your specific ministry calling.

Questions: Have you been obedient to your own personal call into ministry? How well are you managing the position God has called you to right now? Are you focused on God’s mission for your life and ministry, or are you selfishly focused on your own agenda?