Part of what I do on a daily basis, not just as my job, but as the leader of our home, is figure out how to spend our money – however meager or massive the amount. And this is often a complex issue, because even if there are only five uses of money (giving, taxes, living expenses, debt, and savings), there is an almost infinite amount of sub-categories, and that’s where we often get lost.
- Should we complete the back yard project, or increase our cash reserve?
- Should we put the work bonus in savings, or pay down debt?
- Should we pay our kids on commission, or give them a fixed allowance?
- Should we save for a bigger house to do more ministry in, or stay in our current residence?
Ron Blue wisely states that we can’t arrive at the correct answer if we’re not asking the correct question. As stewards, rather than ask “What should we spend this money on?” I believe a better question is “What would God have me do?” It seems trivial, maybe – but I have found it forces us to pray and read scripture more than if we leave God out of the question.
The second follow up question is then “What is the best use of this money?” It is most certainly not “Can we afford it?” Just because you have enough money in the bank is not reason enough to make a purchase or other financial decision … it may be a start, but it’s by no means the end of the discussion.
These questions seem awkward, I’ll admit, and they may not be answered quickly, which brings me to another point: create time to answer them. I find that for me, the best time to be still and be quiet and just listen comes in the morning, but that may not be for you. Maybe it’s on your commute to work, or it’s laying in bed at night, or it’s taking a walk in the mid-afternoon. Whatever time it is, just be sure that you are intentional in creating it. I’ve found that God speaks most surely when we’re intentionally listening for him.
This isn’t to say that God’s going to speak audibly on guidance for every $5 you spend, nor should you fast before deciding to fill up on gas, but I do believe he wants us to seek him and listen. Sometimes he’ll just use our wisdom and our hearts to answer, and other times it seems like a still small voice. Regardless, we’re to seek him intently.
So remember Jack – don’t just ask “Can I afford this?” or “What should we spend this money on?” Dig a little deeper and ask “What would God have me do?” and “What is the best use of this money?” Clarifying the question I believe helps clarify the answer. Till next time, Jack.