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Money Matters - Christian Expectations
By: Aubrey Jayroe
Too often people are afraid to budget because it seems to be more trouble than it is worth. However, a budget is not a nervous breakdown on paper. It is an organized and systematic manner of controlling income and expenses so a person can recognize danger areas in their financial life before they happen.
Too many Christians find themselves in financial hardship. Why? We belong to the body of Christ and we have God on our side. If heaven is his throne, the earth his footstool; if He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, then why are his children struggling and finding it difficult to “get by” in this affluent society?
The secret to getting ahead is not from “have luck in the stock market” or “making that once in a life time investment” or even in “receiving an inheritance from a wealthy family member”. It is defined as time!
All the investments and inheritances one can attain will not be the solution if you don’t take the time to plan and protect. People must take the time to discipline themselves to have a written plan that will provide the guidelines of scheduling money in and out of the home, thus providing a means of protection from financial disaster.
A Christian should expect their finances to be in better shape than that of the average person in the world. Christians have the backing of the God of glory and His Word! One of the first things a Christian should do is take the time to investigate the scriptures concerning their financial situation. Notice some scriptures that give us guidelines for planning, preparation, and protection of finances.
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Let's say that there are 10,000 pastors who in any given week spend an average of 5 hours in preparation for the following weeks sermon. That would mean that those pastors accumulatively spend 50,000 hours per week studying for their sermon. On an annual basis, those same pastors spend a total of 2,600,000 hours in sermon preparation.
- In 1 year = 108,333 days
- In 1 year = 297 years
- In 1 year = 5 life times (60 year life span)
Think about that for a moment. To me it is staggering. What is also staggering to me is that many of these ministers are going to preach a message within that year that is similar to that of another man's message. Eventually, most of our messages are very similar!
Combined, these men will preach a total of 520,000 messages this year. I guarantee you that at least 20% of these messages are teaching very similar principles.
Here is where I am concerned. We are living in the last days. Every moment counts. If it were possible to help theses 10,000 men/women shave 20% off of their study time by creating a way for them to share sermon thoughts or ideas we could save the Church...
- 520,000 hours. Each Year!
- 21,667 days. Each Year!
- 59.5 years. Each Year!
How do we preach to those who have heard it all? Here are seven ingredients:
- Round out Bible characters. For many sermon veterans, familiar Bible characters are flat, one dimensional, either good or bad. But real people have inner tensions, complications, and mixed motives. When a preacher portrays that, listeners identify readily.
- Get specific about application. An example is more powerful than an explanation. There’s a world of difference between telling someone that prayer changes things and sharing a fresh example of a situation transformed by prayer.
- Let it grip your soul. A critical quality in preaching effectively to those who’ve heard it all is sincerity. If our sermon is honest and heartfelt, a truth as common as “Jesus loves you” can thunder in the hearts and minds of our listeners.
- Address the tough question. We would like to think that hearing a lot of sermons would answer most of a person’s questions. But people who have heard it all love to hear a preacher tackle the tough ones.
Any licensed or ordained minister in the U.S. who performs ministerial duties and who is employed by the church qualifies for a housing allowance which is a great tax benefit. Housing allowances are not taxable to federal or state income taxes, so you can save taxes by utilizing the housing allowance. In general the rules are as follows.
To have a housing allowance, you must have a resolution pre-authorizing the housing allowance. A pastor cannot designate his own housing…it must be done by either the church board or the church membership. The amount designated goes to pay all housing expenses: rent or house payment, utilities, taxes, insurance, repairs & maintenance, upkeep, association dues, furnishing & appliances (purchase or repair). Any expenditure that is for the upkeep of the house you live in is included in the housing allowance.
The housing allowance is ONLY for your primary residence, not any other vacation home, etc. The allowance is paid by church funds as a portion of the overall compensation of the minister. The housing allowance used cannot exceed the actual expenses incurred for the housing expenses. The amount paid toward the house payment cannot exceed the fair rental value of the home.
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1. Learn that leadership is servanthood. Servanthood begins with security. Jesus knew His position and was willing to not flaunt it. Jesus knew His calling and was willing to be faithful to it. Jesus knew His future and was willing to submit to it.
2. Let your purpose prioritize your life. Because Jesus developed priorities based upon His purpose:
- He successfully dealt with distractions.
- He wisely responded to personal rejection.
- He willingly suffered pain.
3. Live the life before you lead others. Jesus never begged anyone to believe in Him. He knew that integrity cannot be proven; it must be discerned. He never wasted time with critics. He kept His attention on His goal. He stayed focused.
4. Walk slowly through the crowd. Leadership impact is drawn not from official position, but from authentic relationships. (John 4:5-30, 8:1-11) "You will never possess what you are unwilling to pursue." Jesus knew this.
5. Replenish yourself. Life is demanding. People are demanding. The more you succeed, the more you lead, the more people will demand of you. Replenishing yourself requires your attention. Faith walks out when fatigue walks in.[ read more...]
What are some of the principles that greatly impact our lives and help us become mature, growing, productive people? Listed are principles to guide your life:
- Your attitude determines your altitude.
- It’s not what happens to a person, but what happens in a person that makes the difference.
- Every problem has a hidden possibility and a seed of victory in it.
- Failure is not final. Learn from it and go on.
- Limitations are guidelines, not stop signs.
- Expect the best and express the best.
- There is not much difference between success and failure. The successful usually gave just a little bit more.
- Each person can increase a little. You can improve your attitude, relationships, priorities, determination and credibility a little each day.
- Helping others succeed helps you to succeed.
- Be yourself – that’s who God made.
- People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
- Live what you teach.
- Pay now and play later.
The title of my article is borrowed from a book of great truth. Some books, although not biblical in origin, bear great truth nonetheless. Had I read this book several weeks ago, I may have saved myself a great deal of labor.
Because a Little Bug went Ka-Choo, is more than a child’s book of the Dr. Seuss series. It is in my opinion a manuscript of sacred truth often unrealized in the life of a leader.
Let me explain, in Because a Little Bug went Ka- Choo, Rosetta Stone describes the extreme chain of events that unfold as a result of a little bug sneezing. At first a seed is dropped. Of which a worm gets hit, who then gets mad and kicks a tree. Because he kicks the tree a coconut drops causing the turtle to get bopped… And so on until the final scene describes the entire town turned into utter chaos as fire trucks and town parades collide into a frenzied explosion of pandemonium.
A friend gave me this book the other night after I finished the complete renovation of her kitchen. The inscription she wrote inside the first page of the book says, “Jim, let this book be a reminder the next time someone calls you to help them install just a stove."
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What basic leadership skills make pastors effective in their ministries? Here are 9 essentials.
- Leaders do lead. Many people in positions of religious leadership simply don't lead. The fact is that true leaders do lead. They chart a course, garner the necessary support and resources, and work to succeed.
- Leaders lead from a spiritual center. Men and women engaged in ministry are careful to ask God to help them lead from a spiritual center. Today's spiritual leaders must also take the time they need to quietly seek guidance.
- Leaders compromise creatively. As soon as a vision is articulated and plans are established, obstacles and roadblocks will occur. They'll seek ways to compromise creatively so that the end goal will still be accomplished.
- Leaders deal constructively with conflict. Whenever someone provides leadership, conflicts will arise. Effective leaders learn how to deal constructively with conflicts and maneuver around them.
- Leaders are willing to listen. Strong leaders know that listening to others helps them in two ways. First, by hearing what others say, their own vision for the future can be clarified, modified, and intensified. Second, when leaders listen respectfully, even to criticisms, they not only gain additional insight, but often receive the support of the speaker. When leaders listen, people rally around.
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According to the latest statistics, over one-half of all families in America are experiencing financial difficulties. This includes single parent homes. Most people have financial problems, but don’t know why!
In order to be aware of the financial difficulties one has and know what causes them, a person must educate himself to the reasons for the difficulties. The following are a list of reasons that most people find themselves in financial difficulty.
- FAILURE TO FOLLOW SCRIPTURAL PRINCIPLES. The Bible is full of guidelines regarding financial principles. In fact, one-half of all parables and one out of six verses in the New Testament deal with stewardship. Get your Bible out and start studying. Ask your pastor for more information. See a Christian Financial Counselor for assistance. You will find great guidelines and principles in the Word of God.
- FAILURE TO IDENTIFY YOUR PRIORITIES. Just exactly what do you want? More things or better financial stability? Prioritize your desires and needs and stick to it.
- NO DISCIPLINE! That one horrible word causes us more problems than anything else in the world. We need to exercise discipline in every phase of our life, especially when it comes to discipline! Discipline yourself to limit unnecessary purchases and wasting money. Discipline yourself to set down once per month to analyze your finances. Discipline will be the greatest thing you can establish in your life. Work diligently with disciplining yourself.
- FAILURE TO ESTABLISH GOALS. A person who has no goal is a person without direction. A person without direction is going…nowhere! To solve your financial difficulties, you have to establish a clear goal. Where do you want to be one year from now; five years from now, etc.? Write your goal down and work toward it.
- NO CONTROLS. This compares to discipline, however, it means to have written controls over your spending. Write down what your limits are. Review them frequently.
- FAILURE TO ESTABLISH A BUDGET. A budget is not a nervous breakdown on paper. It is a clear cut guideline of where your money comes from and how it is to be spent. It only takes about 1 hour per month to maintain a budget so that you can control the process of knowing where your money is and how it is spent. Don’t negate the importance of a written budget…it will be the greatest factor in helping you get your finances under control.
- UNABLE TO CONTROL IMPLUSIVE SPENDING. If you don’t follow the direction of your budget and discipline yourself, you will be unable to stop spending when you see that item that you just must have. Don’t spend any unnecessary money until you discuss it with someone. You must control your spending if you ever hope to get ahead financially.
Pat yourself on the back.
Have you been feeling underappreciated lately? Does it seem that no one understands how hard you work or how much you are trying? The feeling that no one appreciates you can be very discouraging to most people.
We all know the power of congratulations. Rewarding people with our praise is one of the easiest and most powerful ways to motivate others. Simple words of encouragement can literally change a person’s life when given at the right moment. Saying “Good Job” or “This Looks Great” can motivate a person to want to try harder next time in order to please you, as well as give them a much needed sense of accomplishment for the hard work they have invested.
What happens though, when no one gives “You” that needed praise? Who encourages the encourager? Who tells the guy at the top “Good Job”? Oftentimes, nobody does this. Even a self-motivated person has a point where they just need to hear someone say “I appreciate what you are doing.” So what do you do when those affirmations are few and far between?
Encourage yourself! David did it. 1 Samuel 30:6;
And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.
Maybe you’ve never had the congregation ready to stone you, (Or maybe you have…) but there have probably been many times where you wondered where even your closest followers' devotions were. David understood that this was one day where encouragement from the men was not going to come. They were tired, discouraged, and let down. He knew that there was nothing he could do or say that would cause them to appreciate all he was trying to do for them. The only thing left for David to do was to “Encourage Himself”. The scriptures say he “…encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” Wouldn’t it be something if we could know exactly what he said or did to do this. What were his words? “Don’t worry David (to himself), God’s got your back. You’re doing a fantastic thing for the Kingdom of God. Don’t be discouraged, the Lord knows where you’re at right now.” These are things we might say to another person to encourage them, so why not say them to ourselves?
I confess, I talk to myself on occasion. Not like a lot of people do, but rather to encourage myself. A few years ago, I began to become very discouraged when it seemed that no one else seemed to appreciate the very hard work and tremendous accomplishment that I was experiencing. So, I began to do something that might sound a bit strange to many people. I began “patting myself on the back”. Seriously, I literally patted myself on the back and said to myself, “Good job Jim. No one else may notice what you just did, but I did and I think you did a fantastic job.” I know that sounds odd, but I have to be honest with you, it felt good. I said it to myself and at the same time realized that the guy saying it knew what he was talking about. He was someone who recognized when someone did something great and he was now complementing me. Only, me was also me, so for some that might not sound so great.
However, it was the only praise that was going to come to me that day, so if it had to come from me, I was going to accept it.[ read more...]