Sunday, December 11, 2011

Good Steward's Financial Management...

On December 4 and 11, I led a seminar on "Good Steward's Financial Management" at Agape Korean Church in Rwanda. This 8-hour session dealt with the issues related to our financial matters.

The world is full of a disease, called "Affluenza." Affluenza is contagious and causes high fever to people when infected. It also has serious side effects. It makes people greedy and crave for materials and money. It also makes people fall in love with Hedonism, Materialism and Consumerism. It is a disease.

The most effective cure for Affluenza, particularly for Christians, is stewardship. It means realization that God owns everything and we are only managers or stewards. This is true because God owns mankind two times: once through His creation and twice through His redemption (buy-back) at the expense of Christ.

But, not all stewards are good stewards. Good stewards are those who not only accept God's ownership in everything but also make conscious efforts to managing possessions according to the owner's will.

The following questions may illustrate three types of people well:

1. Most people: "What shall I do with my money?" (my ownership and my desire)
2. Stewards: "What shall I do with God's money?" (God's ownership but my desire)
3. Good stewards: "What does God want me to do with His money?" (God's ownership and God's desire/will)

This good stewardship should be apparent and manifest in four aspects of financial management: Earning, Giving, Saving and Spending. I call them "four pillars of financial management."

Earning should be without greed to make money money. Whenever we feel we should make more money, we may fall into temptation. Earning should be without sacrificing any relationship, particularly family or friends, or health. Earning should also be without 'love of money.'

Giving should be made in priority. The first portion of the fruits should be dedicated to giving. It is a grace of giving. Giving means allotment according to God's will: God's portion, Neighbor's portion, Government's portion and my portion. This allotment means responsible giving. Moreover, sacrificial and generous giving has been encouraged because the best antidote to 'Affluenza' is giving.

Saving should be made in preparation for unproductive times and unpredictable events. Excessive accumulation of wealth without consideration for the owner is foolish, according to the Scriptures. The world tries to fool us with false calculation for the retirement needs. Retiring is re-tiring, a process to change the tire and keep going.

Spending is critical to all aspects of Good Steward's Financial Management. Uncontrolled spending will likely put pressure to all other aspects of financial life. It will tempt you to earn more, to give less and to save less. One should be cautious about "lifestyle creep" where your spending increases in anticipation of an increase in earning. Rockefeller suggested a 10-10-80 rule in that giving the first 10%, saving the next 10% and spending within the remaining 80%.

"One who gives away what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose is a no feel." (Jim Elliot)

It is my prayer that all who participated in the seminar may put a few lessons into their practical use. - Jeffrey

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