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Less Stress

This week we kick off a month-long series dealing with finances. Early on in our ministry I was extremely hesitant about speaking on the issue of finances. A few people in our core team asked me to hold off because "Guest don't like to hear about money from church." I've come to see something completely different.

Guests to your church understand money. They earn it, some save it, everyone spends it and every day they base many decisions on it. People know that life isn't free. People also know that attitudes toward money can ruin families (Exhibit A: Tori and Candy Spelling's recent mud slinging). The point is that financial issues are prevalent in life but they seem to be silent in the church. To me it seems that this and a healthy view of sex are two issues that dominate life and culture but are relatively unheard of within the confines of the church.

Coming out of college I had so many things screwed up about money. I had terrible spending habits and I ran up huge bills on cell phones and parking tickets. I didn't understand what a FICO score was and I couldn't pronounce 's-a-v-e'. I rounded up my check book by the $ .50 mark b/c it was easier and I came pretty close to bouncing a few checks. I had learned the rules of the banks so I could move money around without getting hit with late fees but I didn't have a clue on financial responsibility.

Fast forward a few years and some discipline. I learned how to balance a check book, resist temptation in purchases and actually use the savings side of my bank account. I kept a 1993 Geo Metro from 1996 until this year (10 years) to keep from making payments. This year we also paid off our Jeep and purchased our first home at a good rate. I had spent the last 5 years getting my FICO score up to above average and keeping a budget.

I share these things because they were HUGE experiences in my young adult life. If I hadn't had the desire to learn and the discipline to make life changes, I wouldn't have gotten very far.

God's plans don't happen over night and they don't happen without pain. It's funny to think that most of us get ourselves into tough spots over the course of years but we want to believe we'll get out of those spots in a matter of a few days or weeks. This is one of the reasons that diets don't work. People go on a diet and after a few weeks or a month they say "That didn't work" while they ignore that they didn't gain all of that weight in just 1 month. Also, diets take a change in lifestyle... not just picking up a new habit. (I'm speaking from recent experience here) :)

Financial problems are a lot like weight loss. To lose weight in the long-term a person has to change their caloric-intake. Basically you have to burn off more than you take in. A person can't just eat a Jenny-Craig meal on top of 6 bowls of ice-cream and expect to see progress. As a side note I find it funny when I hear someone order a HUGE order at a fast food joint only to say "And a Super-sized Diet Coke".

Unfortunately that's what we do with God's plan for our finances. We still keep the cable bill, we still keep the car payments, we still keep buying our toys that we 'have to have' and in addition we try to do a few of God's plans. When we do that guess who gets the blame? Yup... God. We get frustrated and ... Stressed... and we think "Gee God... I'm tithing... now what?" We ignore the fact that according to Malachi 3:8 we were robbing God in our old decisions. It's not God's problem that we choose to stop robbing him. It's our problem that we need to re-adjust our bills to fit our income. In these situations tough decisions need to be made. Do we want cable or financial freedom? Do we want a car payment or financial freedom? Do we want to eat out 3 times a week or do we want financial freedom. On and on. For each of us the choices must be made. Some choose to tie their finances up with payments (often for old toys we regret) while others choose to live well below what they are able in order to get things together. It's all about choice. I've seen some families choose to live with less and they love life while I've seen others brag about what they have and at the same time end up in bad financial shape. I truly believe regardless of the rest of our choices... the choice to give God his tenth shouldn't be a difficult one.

An awesome example:
My sister and her husband approached me a few months back about their financial situation. The long and short of it is that they had two nice cars. They're young (21'ish) and they had made decisions that they now regret. The car payments were killing them. I challenged them to make a huge decision. Sell their cars. Sell them at all costs and take the hit. They are making the moves necessary. My brother in law traded in his car at a rate that paid it off... he was upside down in it but by trading it in, that note was paid off. They now have a 2003 Honda Accord that they are attempting to sell at 3k below blue book (if you want to buy it, email me) and once they make the sale he will be driving a cheap car so they don’t have a car payment. Then the plan is to pay down my sisters car enough to do the same thing. The goal will be to get them both out of car payments within this year. If they could do that, their financial future is Brighter than P-Diddy's Bling-Bling.

Most people aren't willing to make these sacrifices. Most people are content to stay financially lazy and get frustrated at everyone and everything around them. Any fitness trainer will tell you that a better diet coupled with regular exercise is what helps you lose weight. No quick fixes.

This post isn't about weight. This post is about financial stewardship. On the front end it will be tough but the reward of financial freedom is amazing and if you work at it... it will be extremely rewarding. Take those tough steps on the front end and live with a little less... I assure you that if you live according to God's plan... your reward will come before you know it. And that is when you will have less stress.

I'll update more throughout this series.

By the way Pastor. If you're not going to talk about money, you're not talking like Jesus. 15% of what he said was about money and possessions. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Saturday, July 08, 2006


At 3:47 PM, Blogger Kevin Campbell said...

Hey Tally,
I believe it what you are doing. Everyday I thank God that he lead me to you. I know that most people do not want to discuss money in church. They will think "Gosh, here he/she goes again, just wanting us to donate more money to the church, so he/they can become this giant church and drive a beamer". Well Tally, you have my blessing, Preach on brother, Preach on. Your words have let me see what we (my beautiful wife and I) must do, now let Virginia hear it too.
Love you man,

At 3:28 PM, Anonymous Chris said...

Sounds like a Dave Ramsey type of plan. Good stuff.

At 11:46 PM, Blogger Bruce said...

Tally, good stuff. Totally agree on the cars - about 5 years ago we did the same thing and since then have not had car repayments to make.

Right now we have two cars - not the best cars on the lot (one is 2003 model the other 1992!) - but it beats going back to monthly payments on something you lose money on everytime.


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