Mastery Over Money

Bills and coins on table.

Bills and coins on table.

Do you disconnect your faith from the more secular aspects of life? If you are like most people, you spend one hour a week in church and are focused on consumerism and materialism the rest of the week.
Step away from that a moment and ask yourself this question: “Is what I am doing with my life helping me be the person God wants me to be?” The purpose of our lives should be to live in a way that pleases God in all areas.

Once we put God in first place everything else seems to fall into place. This is the basic premise of being a good steward–God first in all ways.

True stewardship is NOT about giving it’s about how we live in all areas of our life. Too often when we hear the word Stewardship, it’s related to giving. There is a need for offertory increase in the parish. There is a capital campaign. It’s time for the yearly giving pledge, or the bishop’s annual appeal.

Applying Stewardship to our life and living a stewardship lifestyle on a daily basis can be difficult. It means analyzing our actions and their motivation. Am I greedy? Do I make hasty decisions and later regret them? Am I generous? Am I overrun with debt? Do I gave money a place of importance it does not deserve?

Once we have deeply examined our habits, including how we give, save and spend, managing money becomes simply an administrative matter. We can escape from the pressure society puts on us by telling us that we must have lots of money and lots of stuff in order to be important or worthwhile.

Money is simply a medium of exchange. It is not a statement on how valuable we are. Yet so many times, we give money an importance it does not deserve. The purpose of our lives is to know, love and serve the Lord. If the way we are handling our money hinders our ability to do that, then how we manage money needs to be changed!
Acknowledging that God made and owns everything (Deuteronomy 10:14) is a practical first step in handling money properly. Managing our money wisely is our way of showing God that He reigns in our hearts. And knowing that we possess material things to help fulfill our calling as a Christian helps us to differentiate between how the world tells us to live and what will please God.

Think about the story of the rich fool (Luke 12:16-21). He had become so wealthy that he wanted to tear down his barns and build bigger ones. It never occurred to him that he could have built an additional barn. He also never thought about sharing his wealth with others. The rich man was unwilling to give up his material things because they had the number one place in his heart.

Jesus never condemned the rich man for being rich. But Jesus was sad that the rich man was not willing to walk away from his wealth. His money took priority even over Jesus Himself.

The issue of money is as difficult now as it was when Jesus began His public ministry.

Money is one of those things from which we should be able to walk away. Being able to walk away from anything and everything for Christ reveals a pure heart.

Do we give money first place in our hearts—a place where God should be? All too often, financial issues have their root in spiritual issues. What is in our hearts becomes evident through outward signs. When we use money to find personal fulfillment, when we are greedy or stingy with the money God has blessed us with, when we are overrun by debt and buy things we don’t need, then we may be giving money an importance it does not deserve. Recognizing these problems can be difficult.

The parable of the talents teaches us that God is looking for faithfulness in the little things. The talents were a form of money. The man who entrusted money to his servants expected a return. Two of the servants managed their money well and were rewarded with more of their master’s goods. The third servant managed the money poorly. When the master returned he punished the third servant for mismanagement of his goods

So mastery over money is mastery over ourselves. Mastery over money provides the ability to know, love and serve the Lord. As we better know, love and serve the Lord we become more obedient in all areas of our lives. As we become more obedient we are showing that we can be trustworthy. As we become more trustworthy the Lord bestows greater blessings on us.

We are not saying that if we are generous we will get more money. We are saying that when we submit ourselves to the Lord many blessings come to us in the form of peace, joy, gratitude, and contentment
The foundation of mastery over money is serving the Lord as our number one priority.

Odd as it may sound, spending decisions need to be thought of in terms of our faith. Asking yourself how this purchase helps you be a better steward prior to making the purchase is much more beneficial than beating yourself up after the credit card purchases stack up.

If your attitude toward money needs adjustment, take time to sit in front of the tabernacle and listen to the Lord. It takes a conscious effort to change your mindset and adjust your attitude. Once you master your money, nothing is the same.

And that’s a good thing!

Checkout the Manage Your Money God’s way podcast for more.

The Last 3 Building Blocks of Parish Stewardship

johnIn a previous BLOG, we wrote about the first four building blocks of stewardship in a parish:

  1. The first building block is Eucharist. The celebration of Mass is the source and summit of our lives as faithful Catholics. The liturgical prayers throughout the Mass flow from the heart of stewardship.
  2. The second building block is Prayer. All parish organizations should model this for parishioners by beginning all meetings or activities with prayer. This models a stewardship mindset that offers everything to God.
  3. The third building block is Hospitality, from Matthew 25:35 “When I was a stranger, you welcomed me.” Hospitality is providing opportunities for people to gather casually and socially to form community. Parishes need to use as many methods as possible to help people feel included as part of the parish community.
  4. Communication is the fourth building block. Consistent, continual, up to date, friendly and clear communications are needed in each parish. This includes not only the bulletin, and pulpit announcements, but also newsletters, the parish website, phone calls, and even new forms communication such as blogging, texting and social media. When people believe that they are informed, they experience a sense of belonging. If the whole parish communication plan is pulpit announcements and the bulletin, there are no opportunities to touch those people who do not attend Mass every Sunday.

    Following are the last three building blocks:

  5. Formation is the fifth building block of a stewardship way of life in the parish. Just because people hear the word stewardship, they do not necessarily live a “stewardship way of life.” Parishes need to provide opportunities for people to learn and live a stewardship lifestyle. The Compass Catholic Bible Study Navigating Your Finances God’s Way is an excellent tool to help parishioners examine their attitude toward stewardship and to evaluate their personal finances in light of the Bible.
  6. Mission is the sixth building block. Parishioners seek the parish family as the community where they can serve and be served—where they give and receive. If a parishioner finds this fulfillment, they will feel connected to the parish. People need to have a place where their service is appreciated and utilized for good.

    Many parishes we visit have outreach programs ranging from serving parishioners to serving foreign missions. The important thing is to get the parishioners involved in outreach activities and to communicate the changes that occur in people’s lives as a result of parish efforts.

  7. Integration is the seventh and final building block. Stewardship is more than a report on the weekly offertory in the bulletin. It’s a message that is vital to parish life. It’s sending the same message multiple times in different ways. The building blocks of Eucharist, Prayer, Communication, Hospitality, Formation and Mission all need to be integrated to form the foundation for a community living Stewardship.

Which building block of stewardship is strongest in your parish? Which need to be stronger?

Stewardship is not a program, it is a way of life in the parish, and it has to start at the top. If you think a parish can preach stewardship once a year when it’s time for the financial commitment, and make a difference in the lives of your parishioners, you are only fooling yourself. True stewardship takes work and dedication, and lots of time, but it can make all the difference in the world in a parish.

Work Is a Four Letter Word

johnHave you ever had a bad boss?  Someone who didn’t communicate clearly what they wanted, someone who had unreasonable expectations, no real concern for you as a person, who played favorites among the staff, someone who sat in the corner office and acted like a dictator?  Most people have probably had a bad boss at one time or another who has been difficult to work for. However, having a bad boss doesn’t give us the right to have a bad attitude about our boss or our job.

While searching for stewardship in the bible, we find many examples of good and bad bosses…not to mention Jesus himself, who was the ultimate servant leader.   Good bosses serve their employees and help them to be successful.  They are good communicators with clearly stated expectations, and they have an ability to hold underperformers accountable for their actions. They pay a fair wage and pay promptly.  They care about their employees as people first, and employees second. Unfortunately, these positive traits are sometimes hard to find in our current work environment.

So, if you are stuck with a bad boss, how should you respond? One of the keys is to recognize that you are actually working for the Lord.  Colossians 3:23-24 tells us, “Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others, knowing that you will receive from the Lord the due payment of the inheritance; be slaves of the Lord Christ.” When we open our eyes to see that God gave us our talents, skills and abilities, we can take heart in knowing that we actually work for Christ, not our boss–and that attitude adjustment changes everything.

Learning how to deal with a difficult situation in a Godly manner develops our character in a way that is unique. We often learn to submit to the Lord by first learning to submit to people, and obeying the Lord in this way is always a blessing. By having a Godly attitude and doing your work each day as though doing it for the Lord, you may even be able to influence a change in your boss’ attitude.

When you’re stuck in the daily grind, it’s easy to take your job for granted and even complain about it. In fact, it’s hard not to complain when everyone around you is doing it, but joining the water cooler gossip session does not solve your problem and does nothing to shine the light of Christ into your workplace.

The last few years have been tough on everybody in the workforce.  So many people have lost their jobs and run into dead ends trying to get another one.  People who have kept their jobs are putting in more and more long hours because companies have shrunk their workforce.  So these days, if you are lucky enough to be employed, it’s important to remember just who provided that job, and to be grateful that you have a way to earn a living.

Stay focused on the fact that God is your real boss, and always keep in mind that you’re working for the Lord. If Jesus were sitting in that corner office, instead of your boss, how would you act?