Updated: Feb 28, 2020
I recently conducted an online survey about money management and those in the Kingdom. Not that others don't struggle with money management, my goal was to find the biggest challenges and offer a solution to those that look to God for direction. Since divine intervention and wisdom can and should be tapped into at the onset I was surprised by the results (James 1:5).
The biggest challenge wasn't the surprise. STEWARDSHIP! The majority spoke and though over 60% said they didn't struggle to be obedient to the Word because they understood it, the challenge was still stewardship. Stewardship - managing what belongs to another - would seem to line up with being obedient to God's word. We know what He is asking of us, yet we find it hard to actually do it. I was perplexed that they professed to be obedient but still struggled which indicates they weren't obeying. Maybe it was only in the area of money. Maybe it's selective obedience and if their heart desires something different, they struggle and money is a heart matter (Matthew 6:21; Luke 12:34).
What surprised me was the second largest group of comments on challenges: embarrassment, comparison and outside influences. I grouped these together because they all lead to what others think as a major influence. Is this because of the social media influence? The leaders in the church (poor examples and good examples) negatively affecting our stewardship? What others may think if they knew we made unwise decisions in the past? Trying to keep up with the Jones' or the latest post? Meeting every sacrificial request?
The truth is that all these play a big part in whether or not we change our spending, giving and saving habits; whether we become good stewards. We need instruction, that's for sure. We need and desire to line up with God's word, that's wise. We need to be responsible for our own actions and make better decisions, that's the process. We need financial freedom from stress and the world's system, that's the goal. God will ask each of us to give an account of our stewardship. He won't compare us to others but will look at our heart of giving and managing. If the focus is on pleasing God and not others then possibly we can move past this block to getting help. Real help will come from His word.
This grouping also goes to knowledge and boundaries where instructions of making wise decisions can assist. The challenge isn't that there isn't information available (www.h2htruth.org/shop & h2htruth.teachable.com - books, videos, online courses and workshops) or that there aren't passionate people without motives to assist (😊) but motivating the embarrassed to commit to doing something different; refocusing those that compare to only look at what God says; shutting down the outside chatter, this is the difficulty. Maybe we can stay in house for financial advise with trustworthy teachers to guide us along the way.
Some of the open ended comments received indicated areas that I decided to research. One such claim was that there was a lopsided income as it relates to Pastors and the congregation. The average Pastor's salary was $46,960 (2009) and the average increase indicated was $1270/year .. that would equate to $59,660 in 2019 if the 3% increase remained steady. Another indicated that the church is very rich but pays their workers minimally. Each church would need to evaluate their ability and their heart. Bottom line is that pay always is heavily dependent on giving within the church. One comment indicated that because of the misuse of funds by some leaders in the church, non-Christians make the assumption that all churches and leaders do the same. Is our ability to impact and influence those outside the church connected to how we handle our finances, survey says most definitely. It's so important that each of us should look within to do the best we can to be beacons of light for others (Matthew 5:14-16). Money management isn't us managing what someone else has but managing the funds within our control.
Another comment was that tithing wasn't a problem but not feeling guilty about spending money on themselves was an issue. One book I gobbled up was by Joyce Meyer "Eat the Cookie, Buy The Shoes". We should celebrate even in small ways otherwise we will be resentful about working so hard for others. It is good to do for others but self care is also important. If you have the funds to do something you enjoy, don't feel guilty if it is within your budget. You can even save for it as a goal.
The outside chatter was another big area. Whether it was keeping up with the social media posts (read one sided fake posturing most of the time) or others opinions inside the church, the bottom line is our accountability is to God. We should live for an audience of one. Some apparently are saying and guilting others into working less and coming to church more. Some during financial hardship are finding it hard to remain cheerful in their giving. Some are afraid of telling the truth about their situation. Discipline and impulse spending were also noted as concerns. The world's system is set up to get you to buy (consumerism) and to do it frequently. The problem with outside noise is real. It is noise that tells you something other than what God says. The Bible indicates that in the multitude of counsellors there is safety (Proverbs 24:6b). This needs to be wise counsel. Listening to others that don't acknowledge the word of God is not wise (Psalm 1). Whether you are living abundantly or on a fixed income, money management God's way is important.
Want financial freedom but you're stressed and don't understand how money works? Your mission should you choose to accept is is within 5 weeks to be empowered with a blueprint to manage your money for consistent savings of $1300 or more annually so that you can look forward to a secure financial future glorifying God in the process.