This is an excellent blog post by Dan Reiland about the mistakes church leaders make with finances. Click here.
I’d add one more: Failure to manage your personal finances well. This is at the heart of 1 Timothy 3:4 –5: “He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive in every way – for if a someone does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church?”
I’ve known too many church staff members who do not tithe, drown in debt, and are living paycheck to paycheck.
I say this as someone to whom financial discipline does not come naturally. If that’s you, let me offer you this encouragement: let your call give you the energy to manage your money well.
As Andy Stanley points out, everyone lives on a percentage of their income. You simply need to do the hard work to discover what percentage you live on.
An old formula still works best:
- Give 10%.
- Save 10%.
- Live on 80%.
To live on 80%, you will have to manage your household well. You will have to tell your children “no.” I was talking to a pastor who was drowning in debt. He took his son to Disney, put it on a credit card, because he wanted his son to have a good birthday. I get the Father love involved, but how will that Dad feel when he has to say to his son, “Sorry, there’s no money for us to help you go to college. You will have to borrow money.” How will the son feel when he has to shoulder tens of thousands of dollars in debt because his parents did not manage their household well?
Let me gently confront you with some traps to avoid:
- “The bank will lend us money, so we can afford it.” Nope, the bank wants to make money off you and doesn’t care if you go deeper in debt.
- “You’re always going to have a payment, so I might as well get a new (car, motorcycle, boat). After all a payment is a payment.” Nope. You can actually pay cash for a car that is not new. You can save for discretionary purchases.
- “I give my time, so I don’t have to tithe.” Nope. Not in the Bible. Plus, trying selling that to your volunteers.
- “The church doesn’t pay what I’m worth so I consider what they don’t pay me as my tithe.” Nope. I know you are probably underpaid, but someone else’s sin doesn’t justify your bad decision.
- “I’m trusting God to take care of me, so I don’t need to save.” Nope. This goes against the whole idea of wisdom. Read Proverbs. God put Wisdom Literature in the Bible for a reason: so people will be wise. That means saving. Saving is wisdom.
- “I know I shouldn’t put this on the credit card, but my (wife, husband, children) will be deprived if we don’t (do this activity, go on vacation, have a big Christmas).” Nope. Your children and spouse will be more deprived by the stress your financial situation brings.
- “I know we need to change the way we live, but my wife/husband has no idea how bad a shape we’re in and I’m afraid to tell her/him.” Nope. Time will not improve the news.
Start today. Admit you need help. Check out Dave Ramsey. Have the tough conversation.
When you start to manage your own money well, it gives you a spiritual authority you need to lead God’s people.