God and Money
Years ago, when I was heavily involved in the corporate world, I admit that many times I was more concerned with making money than I was with pleasing God. For years, I tried to build our nest egg, many times at the expense of others, and then one day, my cousin Dave invited Janet and me to take a Crown Financial Ministries class on financial stewardship. At first, I was incredibly reluctant. First of all, Dave and I didn’t have much in common, and on top of that, I wasn’t all that excited about studying the Bible. But that class, the first Bible study that Janet and I attended together, changed our lives.
Suddenly, Janet and I became much more concerned about what God has to say about our finances. In fact, did you know that there are more verses in the Bible about money than about any other subject? That’s right – more than 2352 verses about money – that’s more verses than there are about prayer. So money is something that’s important to God. I don’t just mean putting money in the plate on Sunday – I am talking about how we approach debt, our views on financial giving, Kingdom stewardship, how we treat others and a host of other topics all related to money.
My mother and father weren’t very good about teaching me about money. Dad never had a large income; and watching the other family members, it became evident that if you needed more, you just worked harder or came up with a different idea until it paid off. What made these lessons even tougher for me was that I excelled in the early years at making money. So I had a skewed idea of how hard it was to earn a living. One would think that with all the money that I have made during the years, I should be able to retire. But that’s not the case – because I was a lousy steward; correction – since Janet and I are a team, I should say that we were lousy stewards.
Sure, we had nice houses and nice cars, but we didn’t have any financial margin in our lives. If we had an unexpected expense, it was always a struggle. And a bunch of anxiety. When I left the corporate world, and had to live on conducting funerals and weddings, it was a struggle – but at least we thought that I was doing something that God wanted me to do. And for the first time in our lives, we really trusted God. And it wasn’t forced – we both felt called to do what we did, and I speak for both of us when I say that we have never regretted that decision. Selling our large home and our fancy cars was tough but once we adjusted it was fine.
During my years in school, Janet even went out and got a job as a teacher’s aid for special needs children, for 3 years at $7 an hour, and we didn’t know how it would all turn out – how we would make it. But we expected miracles from God; and we got them. It was a long way from the perks we had enjoyed having owned a company. But it was all part of God’s plan. In fact, I thought that I would get a church, become a senior pastor, and never have to deal with the corporate world again.
Apparently, God didn’t think it was necessary to share His plan for me – with me! So today, I find myself back in the corporate world – instead of a church. I still do some counseling, and I work with corporate teams, and I even mentor owners of companies – but now I do it with a Kingdom perspective, rather than a monetary perspective. I have come to realize that God asks us to serve in places that are consistent with our experience and our gifting; where we are uniquely qualified to serve. But now, I no longer take advantage of situations that would not have bothered me a decade ago. I am blessed with great clients and I am honored that they have chosen me to be on their teams.
Now, the Kingdom purpose comes first. And I believe that if I serve God first, the rest of it will be taken care of. Friends, attorneys, other consultants and almost everyone else in my corporate world fail to understand my model for serving others. But it works for me. No – it’s not easy. I fight the battle every day to make sure that God comes before the money. I can’t tell you how many people tell me I am getting it wrong. That’s okay – I’m not changing the way I do things. And Janet is right there on the bus with me.
In fact, all our kids know how strongly we feel about this topic. Kristin and Jill have both been through the Crown classes – and Andrew, with his wife, Stacy, started their course this evening. So, tonight, in honor of Crown Financial Ministries, and the way it has truly changed our lives, the verse is from Matt. 6:24, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” Ain’t it the truth!
My encouragement tonight is to first seek the Kindgom of God. He knows your needs and will provide for you. Maybe not everything you want, but at least everything you need. Believe me, it can be a humbling experience, but Janet and I wouldn’t change it for anything. My prayer is that you will trust God to provide for you – and that’s a tough one. Because most of us have spent a lifetime pursuing wealth, without truly understanding that the wealthiest people are the ones who have a right relationship with the Lord. Grace and peace,