I know, it’s hard enough to take care of your own needs much less put any thought into what other people need. And yes we are entering that time of year where you get hit up by everyone from everywhere—school age kids selling chocolate bars you really love but don’t want lying around your home; mailers from some charity you gave to five years ago; phone call solicitors asking you to support a local organization; and now social media!
Some of us respond out of guilt or end up feeling a little resentful. How can anyone pursue the American Dream and give to every opportunity that presents itself?
I suggest you can’t nor should you.
If you really do want to live a life on mission—a mission to reach the holistic needs of others in a way that reveals a loving God who wants every person to know Him, not just know things about Him but know Him personally—then chances are you will need to make a series of decisions that alters the way you live.
Here are a few financial decisions that I think will help you live life on mission:
Change your mindset
Forget the American Dream, or if you live in another country, please don’t aspire to be like us Americans when it comes to accumulating more and more stuff chasing an elusive dream of happiness. It’s futile and doesn’t fulfill its promise.
Are you obsessed with the next new gadget; the new season fashion; that new auto or house; next year’s perfect vacation? Not that any of that is wrong, but how much of your thoughts and efforts go into this pursuit?
Do you notice people around you? People are hurting. Even if they look and smell good living in a nice home with the average 2.5 kids, two cars, and so on, it’s a good chance that they too are hurting and in need.
But you know we have become blind to even the most obvious people in need. We become either apathetic or numb driving by people everyday that need someone to notice them and reach out to them.
If you are able to change your mindset and begin noticing who is around you, let’s talk about practical decisions.
Live below your means
Simple math. If you make $50,000 per year, live on $45,000. If you make $100,000, live on $90,000. You get the picture. Simple math, but unless you intentionally decide to do it, it’s impossible. Our culture influences us to spend all and more than we have on ourself.
Here is a thought—What if God didn’t intend for you to spend everything He has given to you on yourself?
If you are still reading, let’s get more practical. Just how can we live below our means.
Eat more meals at home
Sigh. My wife will attest that this is one of my weaknesses. Even though I like cooking and being at home, I also enjoy the convenience of eating out. I like having someone else cook and clean up, so I don’t have to. But, we all probably agree that those lunches out and family meals at even a fast-food place cost much more than what we can fix at home.
Wait before making that purchase
Self control. That’s what this takes. My wife and I have employed this approach for years now, and I don’t even remember the things that we at one time or another thought we just had to have. But after waiting a day or two or a week or two for bigger ticket items, we often decided that we really didn’t need it.
Do every thing you can to live debt-free
Begin where you are. In other words, if you have consumer debt like credit cards, then that’s where you should begin. Come up with a plan to get rid of it. If you all you have is auto and house debt, then be willing to be different. You can live without any debt, including your home mortgage.
Tithe and then prepare to be ready
I am not one that believes that God requires a 10% tithe as a rule. Instead I think God wants me to give generously and cheerfully. Ironically, when I do that, I tend to give away much more than 10% of my wealth.
But the principle and discipline of setting aside a portion of my wealth so I can give it away for God’s purposes reflects His heart.
However, rather than mindlessly writing a check each month to your church or charitable organization, I suggest being intentional about what you are giving.
Put aside money or account for it in a spreadsheet and put thought into where its going. Be ready to give to opportunities that are important to you when they arise.
I realize it takes focus and resolve to make decisions like these that change your financial habits and lifestyle so that you can live missionally, But I think its worth it! I hope you do too.
What are some other financial decisions we can make that will help us to live missional lives?