Finance can seem like such a dirty word. Along with religion and politics, it is one of the three topics we are supposed to avoid in a conversation. Finance is a word that simply carries baggage. For many it’s like a bitter taste in the mouth; it evokes memories from a previous financial problem. We tell ourselves that money is not important, that there are more important things in life.
And at least in the latter, we are correct.
But we still find it difficult to ignore the abundance of teachings in Scripture about finance. Money was one of the most frequent topics of discussion for Jesus.
So we sit, hating finances while trying to convince ourselves of their importance in our life’s journey. These are all familiar quotes to us:
- “I would like to have complete financial freedom, to be without worry about any money matters.”
- “We need to pay down a lot of debt.”
- “I would love to know that my kids and I would have no worries when it comes to money in the future.”
- “I wish I could afford to quit my second job and spend more time with the family.”
- “I want a sound future for myself and all of my family members.”
In the survey we conducted for the book Simple Life, more than 45 percent of the respondents admitted that they did not have enough income for their lifestyles. For many of us, money is a ball and chain attached around the ankle, limiting our life’s movement.
We feel that if we could just get a few extra zeros added to our bank account, then just maybe the weight would start to lighten, the clasp around the ankle would start to loosen. So many of those surveyed told us that money was a limiting factor to doing what they wanted to do. One forty-something man commented, “If I were just independently wealthy, then I could pursue what I really want out of life.” And every now and then, we jokingly find ourselves wishing for the old bartering system, where a handful of goats would get you some land to grow your crops, and maybe even a couple of spouses depending on your negotiation skills.
Those were simpler times (except for the couple of spouses).
Those who have had some type of financial trouble in their lives can attest to the amount of stress it places on them and their families. Half of those who took our survey told us that finances caused strain in their marriage. When money gets thin, life can get scary. What do we do? Where do we go? Which bill do we pay? How are we going to pay for her education? What is going to happen to us? Difficult questions must be answered.
Money can make life a mess. And it doesn’t matter how many zeroes you have on your paycheck, financial trouble can find any of us.
But what do we do? We need clarity.
Finding financial clarity requires a big idea. There must be an all-encompassing direction from which we make monetary decisions.
Should I buy this? Should I invest in that? Should I pay this off first? Can I splurge on this? There are a lot of questions out there, each with its own nuances.
Just one idea captures them all. Stewardship. It is the only concept that provides clarity to our finances.
Stewardship is a word we often hear from behind the pulpit but rarely hear outside the walls of the church. A steward watches over the domestic affairs so that the master may focus on whatever he deems most important. Much trust is placed in the steward by the master. He is expected to act in the best interest of his master, with or without his oversight. So stewardship consists of managing those obligations given to the steward.
By the nature of the word, stewardship requires some type of higher authority. It is a position of submittal to a greater good. It is the denying of oneself and the exalting of another. It is commitment to the well-being of another, knowing that his happiness will result in your happiness.
The concept of stewardship reaches far beyond the boundaries of our bank accounts. Everything we have, everything we are belongs to the One who created us. Our entire being demands stewardship.
Stewardship is not some mathematical formula or a list of dos and don’ts. Stewardship is about the heart.
It is about waking up every morning ready to listen to what God wants us to do for the day. It is about wanting to take care of what God has given us while we are on this little blue planet. It is about acknowledging that His plan is much greater than anything we could imagine. It is about developing a heart that is willing to make financial decisions based on His wants and not ours. A steward who is stubbornly trying to capture God’s desire for His resources is simply beautiful.