We don’t like to talk money, especially with others. We view it as a private matter and like to keep it that way.
Yet the mindset of keeping money matters private is not the same as being prepared.
Individuals may say, “I’m not worried about money. God takes care of us. He always has.” It is true God cares for us, yet God also advocates: Prepare, Work, and Plan. Proverbs 27:23 (NIV) tells us: “Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations.”
We have all seen an unexpected loss throw future plans haywire. Those future days when we were going to plan things is now on us and we’re at a loss. Not only the loss of employment, spouse, or housing but now we’re losing emotionally, physically and financially.
Dave and I have been in some form of public ministry for 43 years. The last ten of those, we’ve been privileged to serve pastors and congregations in financial services. We both feel it is one of the most amazing ministries we've ever done because the need is so great, and the help is real.
The following stories are true, and they are common. They are pulled from the work Dave has done at many “kitchen tables” and various conversations. In life, we can learn from the experiences of others, or we can learn in the same experiences as others. The former is preferable.
~~~I met Pastor Shadrach, age 72, after finishing a meeting. During a 10-minute conversation, I spotted a simple financial mistake he was making. This mistake put an unexpected $14,000 in his pocket shortly after. This change saved him thousands of dollars every year after that. Later, we did more planning & put a plan in place. He would later tell people that working together saved his life. Today, he & his wife are fully retired & doing well.
~~~ For weeks, Pastor Meshach & I worked to answer the question: What does retirement look like for me? As with Shadrach, the same rigors of analysis were used in our planning. Later, I met with him & his wife - it was uncomfortable. You see, Meshach was in his mid 60s & had only saved about $60,000 for his retirement. He had a serious health condition, & he lived in a home provided by his employer. In our meeting, his wife became quiet & very concerned. We worked together, yet it was late in the game for him. My counsel was “Perhaps, now that we have a clearer picture. Different & better choices can be made going forward.”
~~~ Pastor Abednego & his wife were good friends of ours for many years. He invited me into the advice process with him to gain understanding & prepare for future retirement. I did the same goal setting work, completed the analysis, & came back to meet with him & his wife. I still vividly recall the sense of excitement & anticipation as we sat down to go over my report. As he & his wife thumbed through the pages he stopped, looked up, & asked, “Is there still time to change this?” I said “Pastor, that is exactly the right question. That's why I'm here, & yes, there is time.”
As you ponder these stories, we want to pose 3 simple clarifying questions that can be helpful to you:
1. Are you anxious about money?
Money can be a stronghold in people's lives. Strongholds are generally fed by 2 things: fear & secrecy. Maybe a better way to think about your feelings toward money is this: Are there places of distress?
2. Do you feel in control of your money?
One way to identify control is to ask: Am I on track for my goals?
This is perhaps the main area of deficiency we see with ministry professionals we talk with. They have no clear goals against which savings and investment actions can be accurately measured.
Often, ministry leaders fall prey to a common temptation of – sacrificing future & financial wellbeing in the effort to serve others. At the moment, it may seem right to place the needs of others ahead of your own, but this is not wisdom.
A biblical requirement for public ministry is managing our household well. Disciplined money management is one of the places where this is lived out.
3. Are you organized & ready for the “certainty of uncertainty?”
Additional questions to consider:
There are many tools to help you evaluate your journey & achieve these goals! We hope this frames the issues and gives you some next steps for action. For more personalized help, you can easily locate a nearby Thrivent Financial Advisor to assist you at https://local.thrivent.com/
Additional (free) resources:
Cash Flow/Debt/Money Management Skills
OTHER RESOURCES FOR FINANCIAL HELP: