Living as God's Steward
- 2007 7 May
A key to financial freedom and to effective wealth transfer is understanding our life purposes. God has a general purpose for all believers, such as bringing glory to Him and sharing the good news of God's salvation through Jesus Christ.
Each believer also has specific purposes for life unique to his gifts, talents, contacts, and opportunities. As we prayerfully discern where our gifts and experiences lie, God begins to reveal to us where to spend our efforts, time, emotional energy, and money on those areas. Then, of course, do we obey what He has revealed to us?
Our role as steward involves both general purposes for our lives -- faithfully managing what God has entrusted us with -- and specific purposes. God owns it all. All the resources and abilities are within my control only temporarily. As the Bible says,
And [Job] said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. (Job 1:21-22).
This is one rule with no exceptions. Your hearse will not be pulling a U-Haul. Someone asked John D. Rockefeller's accountant if he knew exactly how much Mr. Rockefeller had left when he died. The accountant replied, "Certainly, to the penny. He left everything."
As you live this one life where you take nothing with you, you are writing a story. You are a playwright putting the finishing touches on the story of your life. You get a lot of input on the twists and turns of the plot. You can write a story about how you live with your money and how you leave it. What will the story say? How will that story impact others?
I recently met with a couple with significant wealth. He was a businessman who had sold his successful company for millions of dollars.
His wife of forty-one years made the comment while we were sitting there discussing the sale of his business, "Finally I can replace the dresser in my bedroom." Sensing this sounded interesting, I said, "Tell me what you mean."
She told how they had bought a dresser when they got married. About fifteen years ago, a drawer broke, and they had never repaired it or replaced it. During that time, every day she had been looking at this dresser in their bedroom with a broken empty drawer. This couple earned a very high income for many years. As I glanced at the husband, I sensed he was mentally patting himself on the back for not having bought a new dresser -- for saving that money.
I thought to myself, How could I talk to this guy without offending him? I first asked him whether he loved his wife. He said he did. That didn't offend him.
Then I continued, "What if that dresser represented to your wife something more than a place to store clothes? For example, the dresser potentially is a statement of who she is because it is a part of what she is allowed to decorate and to manage. Just as you have built a business, she has built a house. She builds the things that are in the house."
As he was processing this, I changed my tone and asked offhandedly, "How much money would you pay for your wife's peace of mind, contentment, and happiness?"
He said, "Well, I'd spend anything."
"Then buy a dresser. My point is that money is a tool. You should spend money to accomplish an objective. Buying something for your wife's peace, such as a new dresser, may be just as important as investing it or giving it away. God gave money to us as a tool to use."
Biblical stewardship is the accomplishment of God-given objectives using God-given resources. I am accountable for all of His resources, not just 10 percent of them. It isn't necessarily more spiritual to give to your church than to spend money on a much-needed family vacation. It's all God's anyway, whether I buy groceries, buy sneakers, or give to the poor.
Now, I can just imagine many wives marking this dresser illustration with a highlighter and showing their husbands, "See what Ron says you should do about that new _____ I have been wanting!"
Don't take me out of context and use this story to justify spending when you haven't planned for it or to justify anger toward a spouse who can't afford to buy you everything you want when you want it. All I am saying is that your financial decisions should relate to using God's resources to accomplish His purposes whether they be buying Bibles to place around the world or buying a dresser for your wife to show her that you desire to bless her.
God's purposes are not money or things. Money and things may represent opportunities to accomplish His goals and objectives while we're here. My point in including this illustration is that the businessman is writing a story. It is one of a wise, frugal, business genius. But it is also a rich man so tight that a gallon of WD-40 couldn't loosen his wallet to spend eight hundred dollars for a dresser. What I urged him to do is include a romance chapter in his life story about his love for his wife.
What story are you writing with your life? Do you have a heart for international missions, prison ministry, or homes for lower-income people? Then put your money where your heart is. Better yet, put your plans where your heart is.
Excerpted from Splitting Heirs: Giving Your Money and Things to Your Children Without Ruining Their Lives by Ron Blue with Jeremy White, copyright 2004 Ron Blue. Used by permission of Northfield Publishers. All rights reserved.
Ron Blue has 30 years of experience starting two successful financial services firms that have encouraged thousands in meeting their personal financial objectives. He is currently President of Christian Financial Professionals Network, whose mission is to help Christian financial professionals incorporate biblical wisdom into their advice and counsel, as well as to connect Christians seeking financial counsel with biblically wise Christian financial professionals. Ron is the author of twelve books, including the best selling, Master Your Money. Ron and his wife, Judy, have five children and six grandchildren, and live in Atlanta.
Jeremy White has been a certified public accountant for more than fifteen years with financial experience in public accounting and industry. His CPA firm specializes in retirement planning, estate planning, and wealth management for those in the second half of life. Jeremy assisted Larry Burkett and Crown Ministries as a writing consultant in updating their Family Financial Planning Workbook, and worked with Larry and Ron Blue on Wealth to Last. He has been a frequent guest on the "How to Manage Your Money" radio broadcast. Jeremy resides in Paducah, Kentucky with his wife and two daughters.