What is it that those pursuing Financial Independence (FI), or listen to Dave Ramsey, or are searching for Christian Financial Advice really looking for?
Most people I talk to don’t actually care about being ‘rich’, they don’t need a thriving business, or a fat bank account. Christians looking to put their finances in better shape are generally looking simply, to stop worrying about money.
In Matthew 13 Jesus explains the parable of the sower and says this in verse 22: The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. Matthew 13:22
Jesus says there are two things that are going to make us unfruitful followers of Him.
- Worry- (cares about this world)
- Deceitfulness of riches (getting off mission by chasing money)
Those who follow F.I.R.E (Financially Independent Retire Early) or those into the dominating Christian Financial Advice, attempt to avoid number 1 (worrying about money), by doing #2 (chasing Money).
Why do we Worry about Money?
I was paying off my credit card statements the other day (like I do every month) and I looked at my wife and said “Do you remember when we had gobs of money in our savings account?” Over the last two years we have cut our income in half and spent a good chunk of our savings following the Mission God has for our lives. In our entire marriage we have never been tight on money.
She looked me dead in the eye and said “No…no I don’t”.
I gawked at her incredulously. She explained to me that while we had ‘gobs of money’ in our bank account I worried about money MORE than I do now. Now that we are ‘on God’s payroll’ as opposed to ‘taking charge of our finances’, the pressure is (most of the time) off. The pressure is on God to supply, not on us.
Pursuing financial gain in order to ‘Stop Worrying About Money’ is a fool’s errand. Simply trading one kind of worry for another doesn’t limit your stress, increase your faith, or make you a closer follower to Jesus.
We worry about money, not because we don’t have enough, or because we need more, or because we don’t know how to ‘money’. We worry about it because we don’t have a good idea of where are money actually comes from.
Two Ditches on the Same Road
As followers of Christ, our goal, should not be to make a lot of money, or to live happily in poverty. Our goal should be to be fruitful. To produce a yield for Christ. We know our money should be ‘in order’ but we don’t know what that looks like, so we take the stock financial advice off the shelf. The problem is, it can make our money look better. But it doesn’t make us fruitful.
Cares of this World
Most people I know that worry about money don’t worry about; will I have enough to eat? Where will I sleep tonight? What if it gets too cold tonight?
Most of the worries Christians carry about money sound more like this:
How am I going to retire?
How am I going to make this car payment?
How am I going to afford a vacation?
When we budget, the way Christians should budget, most of these worries don’t have anything to do with our fruitfulness as Christ followers. In his letter to his mentee, Timothy, Paul writes, if we have food and clothing with this we will be content. 1 Timothy 6:8
In the F.I.R.E. Movement, it is interesting to me that people like Mister Money Mustache, (as far as I can tell, not a follower of Christ) have embraced and learned a contentment that more or less accepts this creed of simplicity. While Christian Financial ‘Experts’, brag about how many toys with engines they have. If anyone should be able to have a perspective of simplicity and contentment it should be the Christian! We get Jesus, what do we need anything else for?
If we deploy our money first to our Daily Bread (survival), and consider everything over and above that as either
A. Money God gave us for a mission or
B. an extra blessing.
Our worries would greatly diminish. We can rely on Jesus for our food and clothing, (Matthew 6) and focus on living out our mission sure that Jesus will provide the basics.
Deceitfulness of Riches
Reagan Rose (who you absolutely should follow) at Redeeming Productivity, wrote this poignant article about the Deceitfulness of Riches and there is little I could add to it. I will summarize it in this way.
Money convinces us that we can, ‘be safe’ or get ‘set up’ to serve God or as I heard a podcaster once say God ‘needs us to be successful’. Money distracts us when we think that it is a solution, or a part of our calling. In my own life, I know that I spent a good ten years chasing money, instead of what God had for me. Those are ten years I can’t get back.
I am determined to keep as many people as possible from being distracted by this gnarly lie the enemy tells us. And Christian Financial ‘experts’ (however well meaning) propagate.
How do I stop worrying about money then?
Instead of tackling money in order to stop worrying about money. We should tackle our worry.
You don’t get over a fear of, say spiders, by bug bombing your house every day, sweeping the room for spiders hourly and ensuring that there are no spiders in your home. This may prevent you from encountering a spider, but it doesn’t handle the fear.
Being around spiders to create familiarity, would cure the fear.
Christian Financial ‘experts’ suggest you, ‘Stop being broke’ in order to heal a worry about money. This doesn’t heal your worry about money, it just changes the ‘worry’ from a passive worry, that pops up when you have an emergency, to an active worry that works 24/7 to avoid unpleasant situations. It’s the same thing.
If you actually want to stop worrying about money. You need to test God. You need to put yourself in situations where you actually need God to come through. I’m not advocating frivolity or magical thinking. But asking yourself what is the next impossible step Jesus wants me to take with my money?
Take it, and watch Him deliver. Take a $100 faith leap, and work your way up to $1000 faith moves. If you don’t give to your church, start. If you feel like God wants you or your spouse to stay home with the kids, reduce their hours. If you feel like God is calling you into a form of ministry, enroll in a class. If you feel like you can’t afford it. See what happens.
I can’t tell you what that next step is for you. But I can tell you, you’ll never have so much money that you ‘stop worrying about it’. But the more I see God come through in my own life, and in the lives around me, the less I worry about money. The more used we get to doing the things that seem risky and God showing up at the last minute, the less we’ll worry.
You were created for a purpose.
God set good works in advance for you to do.
When we get off mission by either, worrying about how we will make our bills each month, or creating financial independence or building wealth in order to ‘serve God better’, we are being unfaithful to our call. If we understand the difference between our ‘needs’ and the pursuit of cares of this world, and become able to spot the lies of riches. We will become more comfortable relying on God for our provision.
If you want to receive a free PDF for how to budget your money in a way that is Mission Minded. Drop your email in the box below and I will email you out a free Mission Minded Money Budgeting Worksheet.