I recently read, God and Money: How We Discovered True Riches at Harvard Business School by Gregory Baumer and John Cortines – Paperback, given to me by a good friend.
The authors, John Cortines and Gregory Baumer, both graduates from Harvard Business School, met in a men’s Bible study group where they were confronted with a question, “As young Christians with sky-high earnings potential, what should they plant to do with their money?”
Before you think that this book isn’t for you, think with me for a minute. God promises to meet all of our physical needs. God also is the One who gives any person the ability to create wealth. God intends for you to have every need met and to have more than you need.
If you believe those statements, the question is how will you handle the “more” that comes your way.
I think Cortines and Baumer do a good job of addressing how to view wealth in their book.
Here are some highlights and some of my thoughts from the book:
7 Core Principles for Biblical Wealth and Giving
- Everything we own belongs to God. How we view this statement will impact how we apply financial principles.
- Our wealth and possessions should be used for God’s purposes. In order to agree with this we have to agree with the first principle.
- Wealth is like dynamite with potential for good and harm. We can all think of examples of both.
- Worldly wealth is fleeting; heavenly treasure is eternal. This takes having a kingdom mentality.
- Giving generously to the poor is a moral duty in a fallen world. This section challenged me, and I typically have a generous approach to meeting the needs of the poor.
- Giving should be voluntary, generous, cheerful, and needs-based. How well we do this reveals the true nature of our heart.
- Giving generously breaks the power of money over us. The Bible verse that tells us, “where are treasure is there also our heart will be”, is truth.
Trends and Movements in Generosity
After laying out relational, spiritual, and medical reasons to give, the authors divulge stats that show that Christians don’t give away very much money. I agree with their assessment that if the Christian population would simply embrace a culture of giving, the results would be staggering. I want to be a part of a generous culture.
The “Three S Framework” – Spender, Saver, or Servant?
Most financial experts talk about the first two, Save and Spend. They might ask you which are you? And in most marriages one spouse is a saver, and the other is a spender.
This section in the book offers some practical ways to approach spending and saving along with tools to help you set a spending limit and to help you save wisely.
But what about a Servant approach to your finances? This is could be a new concept for many. Approaching your finances as a Servant will impact the way you spend and save.
A couple of concepts I am mulling over is “a spending limit” and “an end-game”.
Having a spending limit is kind of like a budget with a twist. Let’s say for example you have a household income of $100,000. A budget would simply track how you spend that $100,000. However, a spending limit decides, for example, that you will spend only $80,000. So you budget for the $80,000.
Most people increase their spending if and when their income increases. A spending limit decides what a family needs to live comfortably irregardless to the level of income.
The “end-game” refers to how much we need to save for our future, such as, retirement. One common school of thought is that we should save as much as we can. But the authors challenge this mindset. Instead, they suggest, with input from trusted peers, to determine how much is enough for retirement. Then once that ‘end-game” is accomplished, earmark additional funds for Kingdom purposes.
Three Giving Goals
I appreciated this simple approach to help a family decide how and to whom to give:
- Gospel centered
- Alignment with personal ministry calling
- Maximum effectiveness
Stewardship in Community
This thought challenges me the most. The idea is to form close enough bond with other believers so that you can share how you handle your finances, allow others to speak into how you spend, save, and serve. The authors spoke of the idea of even putting together a form of an advisory board who gives feedback on your annual spending limits and your end-game amount.
In all of my relationships with other believers, “money” is treated like a taboo subject. Even though this would stretch me, I would gladly welcome this.
If you want to live a life on mission, one that is aligned with God’s purpose for you, a life that glorifies Him by how you handle your finances, I highly recommend this book.
You can purchase it by clicking on the title here—God and Money: How We Discovered True Riches at Harvard Business School by Gregory Baumer and John Cortines – Paperback
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