Given that I've gone through the Dave Ramsey Counselor Training course, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if I told you that the majority of clients that I’ve coached are Christians.
To go beyond that, I’ve even been fortunate enough to coach quite a few Pastors as well. And what tends to amaze me from time-to-time is the generosity that some Christians and our Pastors display.
There is nothing greater than giving and helping people in need.
We know that we were made in God’s image, and God was the greatest giver of all – giving his one and only son as a propitiation for our sins. Therefore, we are also givers by nature.
Sure, there are times when people don’t give, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t givers. When we manage money with a worldly view, and when budgets are tight, our human desire to be in control takes over and giving typically doesn’t happen. That is one of the primary reasons I began coaching nearly two years ago: to help people overcome the reign that money has on their lives, so they can have the financial freedom to have impact on our city, our country, and our world.
The questions I have for you today though are: is there such a thing as giving too much? And, can giving be a detriment to your life?
The Old Testament says that we are to tithe: give a tenth of all that we make. However the New Testament talks more about giving from the heart and uses words such as abundantly and generously.
While there could be extensive debate on what that means as far as percentage (or dollar value) is concerned, that really isn’t what I want to discuss today.
What I want you to challenge you on is finding balance: the ability to give generously today, while properly investing and saving for your future.
The greatest challenge that I’ve seen givers encounter is finding this balance. We want to honor God, give generously, and bless as many people as we can.
What I have found though is that some of us take this a little too far. I’ve seen people that give 20% of their income, while racking up massive amounts of debt, AND being unable to pay all of their necessities every month.
While it is wonderful to give 20%, I’d have to argue that God wouldn’t want you to be a slave to debt (Proverbs 22:7) and he’d also want you to properly provide for your family: “if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).
On a different level, I’ve seen givers (Pastors in particularly) give abundantly, but not save anything for their future. While this may not appear as detrimental as the example I just used, the day will come where your family will need to live off of the money you’ve saved…and if you’ve failed to do so, then you’ll certainly find yourself in a challenging time. It’s not a matter of if, it's a matter of when.
So how can you find balance? What does it look like?
Having a perfect budget and a balanced life is certainly difficult, but I believe there are a few simple guidelines that everybody can follow:
- Give a tithe now (10%)
- Save at least 10% of your income for retirement
- While living on the remainder and NEVER going into debt – if you go into debt then you’re not living on less than you make
We all want stuff and we all want to enjoy our lives. However, managing money with a worldly view only leads to suffering and difficultly. That alone has probably been the greatest lesson I’ve learned over the last 5 years .
Once I changed my view of “stuff” and money, my life and my financial situation started to change.
Where to Go From Here
The first step I would encourage everybody to take is to do a budget. Write down all of your income and expenses for a month, and find out what your disposable income is.
After that is done, have a real conversation with your spouse and discuss what God has put on your heart in terms of giving.
You may find that you don’t have enough to give and save. If that is the case, then that is where that challenge of contentment and finding balance comes in. Giving now must be a priority, but saving for your future is a close second. A distant third is learning how to live contently on the remainder: whatever money is leftover is what you must learn to live on…regardless of what that looks like.
8th Wonder of the World
The last thought I’ll leave you with is a quote from Albert Einstein: “compound interest is the 8th wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it. He who doesn’t, pays it.”
Imagine this for a second: living in a world where people were able to live on less than they made (not going into debt), while currently giving generously, and also saving a significant amount of money for their futures and building wealth in the process.
That scenario may seem like a fairy-tale, but it's not. It's very possible, the only thing standing in the way is you and your worldly view of money.
Some people fail to find balance and therefore fail to utilize compound interest. We live for the here-and-now, seek instant gratification, and fail to grasp the entire picture.
Work. Give. Save. Live on and spend the rest. In that order.
Learn to overcome the reign that money has on your life, and you'll eventually be able to give your time and financial resources generously. It's all simply a matter of time.