I will not lead where I won’t go!
The second of my pledges concerning money is: I will not lead where I won’t go. I have seen pastors and evangelists preach on finances and giving but were not using their own advice. They encourage people to give but they themselves are not giving. Or they encourage people to get their budgets under control but their own finances are a mess.
I wish I was perfect, that way it would be easy to preach the truth without being a hypocrite. However I am not perfect, and I strive for transparency in all things.
I have put myself on a budget and forgotten to look at it and thereby making it a total waste of time. Knowing that it is about progress, not perfection, I therefore go back to it again and again. And yes, we have made progress and are getting more healthy all the time. I do have a lot of empathy for people that struggle with their finances. It takes work and we owe it to ourselves, our family and most of all, our God, to strive toward that perfection.
There are a couple of things that my wife and I have done that has really protected us from our shortcomings. You can’t lead where you won’t go, and you can’t lead if you did not tell anyone where you went. So with that in mind, here are some things that we did, in obedience to God, that has blessed us beyond what we can measure.
With my first professional paycheck at 22 years old, I started investing. Most years I would split any pay increase and have half go toward raising my standard of living and half going into my 501 retirement plan. Including a company match of 5%, at the end of 8 years I was putting 25% of my salary into investments. When hard times came and I was not making any money, I simply stopped investing and allowed the money to grow.
The most important thing my wife and I have done is that we have always tithed. That is we give the first 10% to the church before we look at any other bills. On opposite sides of the world from each other (my wife grew up in Norway), starting with our very first jobs, two jr. highers were giving from every paycheck. And true to his Word, God has taken very good care of us, seeing us through good times and bad.
3. Give more than what we tithe
About two years ago we got to hear Pastor Rick Warren, author of the Purpose Driven Life, speak at the Assemblies of God General Council. He shared how he had increased his giving, starting at 10%, by a margin every year. Like me, he started out with a very small pastor salary but by the time he wrote the Purpose Driven Life, he was giving 40% of his income on a Pastor’s salary. Therefore, when he got a 40 million dollar paycheck it was easy to give it away. God knew he could trust him with those resources.
I had done a similar thing with saving money but it had never occurred to me to apply the same principle to my giving. After hearing pastor Warren we are up to 17% and have dreams of doing more for God’s kingdom. We did kind of cheat though since around that time, my wife got a promotion and a good raise and we applied almost all of it to our giving.
May the Lord richly bless you and I hope to see you in Church on Sunday.