Stewardship Lesson #6
The First Step: Short Range Objectives
There is a Chinese proverb which says, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” The same is true with finances. We have to take the first short-term “now” steps before we can make it to our final goals. In the short term there are only five ways money can be spent:
- Given away
- Spent to support a lifestyle
- Used for the repayment of debt
- Used to meet tax obligations
- Accumulated or saved
Every spending decision will fit into one of these five categories.
How you allocate the money you have been given by God is determined by two factors: The commitments you already have & your priorities. If you have bought a house, then you must pay for that house. That is a commitment. You also have a commitment to feed & clothe your family. You have a commitment to pay the government the taxes due it (“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's & unto God the things that are God's”). These are all commitments. It is your priority to give money to God's kingdom because you are in a covenant relationship with Him. It is your priority to place money in savings for retirement so that your living needs can be met at that time. How you spend your money will be determined by your commitments (either good decisions or bad decisions) & by your priorities. This is exactly why stewardship can't be faked. Priorities are shown in what we commit ourselves to & in how we spend the leftovers of the budget.
Of the five choices for spending, three are consumptive in nature: Lifestyle support, repayment of debt & taxes. Money spent in these three areas is money you consume. You never see it again. It's doesn't return you anything.
However, when you save, you accumulate assets & cash, & these increase your net worth. With the net worth, you can then choose a combination of six things:
- Financial independence – means that the resources accumulated will generate enough income to fund all of the short-range objectives, with the exception of savings. You don't need savings because enough has been accumulated.
- College education for children
- Paying off debt
- Major lifestyle desires
- Major charitable giving
- Owning your own business
- There are only five ways to allocate money. List them.
- Of these five, which three are consumptive in nature?
- Which choice builds assets & increases your net worth, thereby giving you more choices in spending & more ways to use your money as a tool?
- How can you know what God would have you do with your money?
- How can you know how much to allocate in each of these five areas?
To determine what God would have us do in balancing our priorities requires the discipline of spending time with Him.
We can't know the will of God if we don't know God. This, too, is why we can't fake stewardship. Our spending reflects our priorities. And our priorities reflect our relationship with God.