A couple weeks ago I was asked to give a lesson in a special Sunday meeting for the men and women at our church. The topic was mastering our money. I thought I would share with you a bit of the lesson and the questions we discussed in this meeting. Hopefully this will spark some good discussions for you and your family.
Is this an issue that you need to be concerned about?
I gave everyone in the class this self-evaluation test. Take it for yourself and use the score to see for yourself how much you should be worried about your finances.
This lesson isn’t about budgeting.
I really don’t need to tell you how to budget your money. Budgeting is really very simple: Don’t spend money you don’t have. Other than a house, don’t go into debt. Put something aside every month, either into savings or food supply. That’s pretty much it.
So why is this so hard for so many? Why are there so many who struggle to keep their heads above water?
Answer: Because mastering our money is far more than just the math of budgeting. I believe budgeting is a challenge because we ignore the emotional and spiritual aspects of money.
That’s why there are questions on the self-evaluation quiz that seem to have nothing to do with the math part of budgeting. These are questions that help you evaluate your emotional and spiritual connections to money as well as the mathematical component of budgeting.
Let’s look at the spiritual side
Satan tells us “You can buy anything in this world for money.” The Lord says “Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price.”
Satan tells us we need money for happiness. That those with money are more credible or more respected. That it is essential to our well-being. When we adopt a money-centered value system, our decisions are based on what something costs and other values–goodness, sacrifice, discipline, generosity–are less meaningful.
How many times have you heard someone say “I don’t really want grow a garden (or do canning
or sewing or whatever) because it really isn’t that much of a money saver.” How many moms with young children say “I have to work, we need the money.” while others say “I’m a stay at home mom because we found I just didn’t make enough to justify all the hassle.”
Don’t get defensive. I’m not making a judgement here about whether a mom with young children should work outside the home or not. I’m merely saying that I wonder how wise the decision–either decision, to stay at home or to work–can be when the reasons for the decision are based on economic impact alone.
When we adopt the Lord’s perspective of money, our values and the things that motivate our money decisions change. We are motivated by generosity, (i.e open-heartedness and open-handedness. Yes, those really are words because how else could I say it?) a faith and trust in God’s abundance and connectedness–connection to family, community, the world around us, to the nature that God created.
Something to think about
How has your perspective on money impacted you spiritually?
In addition, there’s an emotional component to money. If we are money-centric, we may feel that not having enough money makes us feel vulnerable or perhaps feel that others don’t respect us as much. We may feel insecure. We may occasionally feel anxious, needy, deceptive or conceited.
And really how much is enough? Is there ever
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
1 Timothy 6:6-8
On the other hand, when we have truly mastered money, we find we feel calm, secure, satisfied, content and modest. Since we are trusting in God’s providence we are more receptive to the abundance all around us–abundant creation, abundant love, abundant happiness.
Here’s an interesting fact
In the 1950’s the average home was 958 square feet and there was no such thing as a self-storage rental unit. Today the average home is 2300 square feet and there are 58,000 self-storage facilities around the nation, providing 2.35 BILLION square feet of storage.
What’s happening here? Are we a content people? Is it safe to say that the opposite of contentment is covetousness?
The 10th commandment says we shouldn’t covet. We usually think of coveting as wanting something that belongs to another. But is it possible to covet things that we have? Or to covet more than what is necessary for our well-being?
But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
1 Timothy 6:9
Some questions to ask yourself
What are some of the foolish and hurtful lusts that we risk falling in to if we are overly concerned about money? It seems that Paul is warning us about the emotions that may grip us when we are too money-centric or the emotions that lead us to bad money decisions.
How often do you make money decisions that are emotion-driven? What are the emotions that motivate your money choices? What emotions do you feel when you spend money? think about money? make decisions about money? Are those emotions mostly positive or negative?
Some of the positive emotions that motivate our money decisions may include generosity, hopefulness, faithfulness, trust, confidence, contentment. Negative emotions that sometimes motivate our money decisions may include fear, need, selfishness, insecurity, desire, dissatisfaction, impatience.
But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
1 Timothy 6:11
This should be our guide. When we make money decisions our focus should be: faith, love, patience, and a desire to do good.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind
2 Timothy 1:7
It is my hope that, when you make decisions about money, you will not be fearful. I hope that you will be filled with knowledge, faith and trust that the Lord will give you power to master your money, emotionally, spiritually as well as financially.
There are several excellent courses offered by the Marriott School of Finance at BYU, including a really great course on teaching finances to children. Check their offerings and see what will be helpful to you and your family.
Just this last week my church held a world-wide two-day conference. Towards the end, along came this gem of a talk. I think you’ll see many of the same themes in this talk that were in my lesson. So there must be something to this, right?