A Man Reaps What He Sows…
I have always had a funny relationship with money.
I love money. I love the security that a big fat savings account gives. I love being able to buy the things I
want to buy when I want to buy them. I love to spend money on things I want to spend money on when I want to spend it. I love to feel as though money doesn’t restrict me. I love to feel as though I don’t even need to worry about how much is in my account because I know the money is there.
And as self-centered and idolising as that sounds, I know I am not alone in feeling that way about money.
Which is why I also feel very guilty about money. I hate feeling strained financially. I deeply want the wisdom and knowledge to steward my finances well, but feel I somehow missed out on the money-making gene. I hate feeling like I’m the poor one in the group (be it family or friends). I hate that when I think about blessing someone with a gift or shouting a meal, my immediate thought is “can I afford to do that?”. I hate that I feel restricted. I hate that I feel that I never have enough.
Money is a very complex, emotionally charged thing. So much of how we view ourselves and the world around us is tied up in money.
Which is why Financial Wellbeing is the first of the Six Streams of Consumed.
When we sat down to separate out all the ways we consume, money was the first one that popped up, for obvious reasons. It’s the first thing that comes to mind when we think about consuming because money is often the vehicle that unlocks the thing we want to consume. Money can make us feel stable. Money can make us feel comfortable. Money can make us feel secure.
It’s our belief money wasn’t created to be any of these things. The Bible lists passage after passage on how money can become an idol in our lives as we seek to save every last cent so that we can metaphorically go all Scrooge McDuck and swim in our piles of cash. Equally, money becomes an idol we bow to when we frivolously spend on whatever the latest gadget or piece of fashion is that has caught our eye today.
Money was created to be a tool for us. And we were created to be stewards. So how we use/steward money matters.
I have always sought to be a good steward of what God has given me and money is no exception. At times my love/hate relationship with money has led to some wise decisions and, at times, to some not so wise decisions. But through it all, I have deeply desired to just do a good job.
Over my life, I have read a few different books on financial management, all from a Christian perspective and many of them have been helpful. I have had many conversations with friends or family about how they manage their finances, and I’ve implemented some of the advice I’ve received over the years. Even though they have all been helpful, I
still feel like I just can’t make money do what I want it to do. I feel a bit like the servant who took the talent and buried it in the ground, not really
doing any good with it, not really doing anything bad with it. Just doing nothing with it out of fear of getting it wrong.
If I was to really describe my thinking to money it would “hoard as much as possible but always think it’s never enough”. I am a self-confessed poverty-thinker. I never feel like there is enough money, regardless of the salary I’m on.
The problem with that is sitting on what little money I do have is not good stewardship. In fact, it’s just as bad as if I took all my money and spent it every month on random, unnecessary stuff. I could go
on about where this “poverty-mentality” came from but the reality is that regardless of how I grew up or what example was provided for me when it came to finances, I have a duty today to steward money well.
So, if hoarding is the wrong approach to money and being frivolous is the wrong approach, what is?
I’ve spent a bit of time thinking about this, listening to other people’s ideas and stories and I’m starting to form a view.
I think good stewardship of money is, first of all, seeing it for the tool that it is. It is meant to serve you, not own you.
Secondly, it’s embodying Godly principles with where the money is funneled.
Now that may seem very simple in concept but when you break money down that’s all it is. It’s a thing that frequently flows into your life and a thing that frequently flows out of your life. That’s it. We can’t take it with us when we die, we don’t have it with us when we’re born. It simply flows in and out for the duration of our time on earth.
That’s great! I hear you say, but that doesn’t change the fact that I never seem to have any money, regardless of how it flows in or out of my life (and it feels like it flows out more than it flows in!)
I feel the same way.
Which is why it’s so important for us to implement a financial process that enables us to steward wisely, faithfully and fruitfully. After all, a man reaps what he sows (Galatians 6:7b) so if we’re reaping very little, then the reality is we’re probably sowing very little.
Enter the Barefoot Investor.
I had heard of the Barefoot Investor from friends over the years and seen many people pull out their bright orange ING cards with the words “Splurge” scrawled across it, but I had never thought to pick up the book. Until now.
It was a rainy evening when this little book popped into my mind. I had downloaded the sample from Kindle but never opened it, thinking one day I’ll eventually read that book. If I’m completely honest the reason I didn’t immediately start to read it when I downloaded it because I felt as though I was probably already doing the things the author was
going to say, so I was in no rush to pick up the book. One day I’ll get to it, I thought. Well, that day had apparently arrived because it wasn’t like a light
bulb moment or that I was even aware my thinking had changed. It was just a moment where I thought “I should read that barefoot book” and so without questioning that thought, I turned the TV off, picked up my Kindle and got to reading.
The more I read the more I realised I was standing at a threshold of change. I felt as though God was saying to me “Now is the time for change, will you enter into it?” and without even taking a breath I knew my answer was a resounding yes. As I began to understand why everyone had raved about the book for the past few years, I realised that this
book could be incredibly helpful to our CONSUMED community. After all, we need help. We need help in making better choices and we need help in becoming better stewards.
To the best of my knowledge Scott Pape, the writer of “The Barefoot Investor” is not a Christian, but that doesn’t mean there is not wisdom in the way he approaches money and the way he is helping thousands of people get out of debt. But it wasn’t the success stories that influenced my decision to share this with you, rather it was Scott’s analogy of a planting an Apple Tree. The way he talks about finance and being in it for the long run, whilst still enjoying this moment, feels like it is wisdom lifted right off the pages of the Bible. How he practically applies that wisdom is where the real magic lies in what Scott is doing through his book.
As I sat there reading, I had a thought. Instead of just taking this book and popping it up under the Resource section of CONSUMED, trying to convince you to read it, what if I actually did what it said and shared the journey? I had decided by about the second page of the book that I was definitely going to implement the advice Scott was giving, so why not share the journey with you rather than just telling you that you should do it!?
And so begins the next few weeks of our Financial Wellbeing focus. I’m going to provide you with not only a review of the book but every few weeks an update on how the tips and tools Scott talks about in his book have worked for me, how hard (or easy) I found them and what (if any) are the results. I’ll also be sharing other people’s comments and experiences with the Barefoot Investor as we seek to inspire you to become a better steward of your finances.
Money doesn’t have to be a burden if we can develop a healthy, Godly mentality towards our stewardship of it. And good stewardship comes through wisdom. So if you’re like me, someone who really wants to do a better job of stewarding money for the glory of God, than join on me on this little journey as we follow the barefoot investor.