Thursday morning I’m pouring the last drops of my coffee into my ceramic mug before I head to the office. The phone rings. It’s my brother-in-law. It’s rare to get a phone call from anyone under 40, normally it’d just be a text. So I pick it up.
“What’s up?” I ask
“Hey, this is far-fetched, but my parents are sick, and they had their time-share reserved and can’t go. Do you guys want it.?”
(My family and I love to travel and the time-share is on HIlton Head Island).
“Well, I don’t know. When’s it reserved for?”
At this point my type-A planner brain explodes. I’m the guy who thinks 5-year plans are short-sighted. I hate surprises. I like to be in control.
My brain is spinning with reasons we shouldn’t go, but it felt like a gift. It felt like an invitation.
Why Determining a Money Value Makes Decisions Easier
Decision fatigue is the result of making too many decisions in a single day. This is why big time CEO’s like Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerburg always wore their same black turtleneck or grey hoody, respectively. They don’t make a decision about what to wear so that they have more decision-making capacity throughout the day.
A world of financial decisions stands before us every day:
Should I run through the drive-thru or eat dinner at home?
Should I buy this shirt? It’s really cute.
Should I give to my church? World Vision? Feed the Kids?
Having a money value or a money mission statement provides a framework for these decisions. It narrows the availability of decisions to ones aligned with your values. It prevents you from even considering a plethora of questions that bombard you every day.
Financial decisions are less about the choices you make and more about the questions you ask or determine not to ask.
Instead of: Should I eat out or in?
You might ask: What would be best for my body right now? OR What food items do I need to use up in the fridge so they don’t go to waste?
Instead of: Should I buy this shirt?
You might ask: Do I need another shirt? OR Who would this shirt look good on?
A money value sets a framework for the kind of questions you’ll ask around purchases. If you value health and fitness you may ask questions around which option is the healthiest (as opposed to cheapest or easiest). If you value simplicity you may ask questions around need or sufficiency (as opposed to convenience or desirability).
My money value reads: Responding to the invitations of Jesus. Making money from things that are fun.
If it feels like a call I don’t consider the price tag. If it isn’t fun I won’t try to derive my income from it. This makes decisions simple. More accurately it creates less decisions to make.
Instead of asking “should I take this job, or should we make this move.” I simply ask. Does it feel like Jesus? Does it sound fun? If both answers are “No”, I don’t think about it anymore.
Even if I COULD do it, or it would be profitable or it would be a stepping stone to some imaginary future that would give me prestige or money or a sense of success. If it doesn’t align with my money value it’s a non-starter. This saves me so much brain power so I can make good decisions about the things God HAS called me into.
Less Options Means More Freedom
Money values narrow the possible outcomes. Paradoxically, this gives you more freedom and decision making power. For instance, the freedom to go on a last-minute trip to Hilton Head. Within 24-hours of this phone call we “purchased” six airline tickets with points (total cost $67.20), moved a few appointments for the week we’d be gone, and arranged to have someone watch our chickens.
You can argue with me about whether or not a free stay in Hilton Head is an invitation from Jesus, but that’s not your place. It’s my money value not yours.
You can argue with me that I should work more diligently, or be more responsible or not value travel, but that’s not your place. It’s my money value not yours.
This is where the church has gone so wrong with money. We’ve tried to reduce money decisions into a rote 7-step formula (thanks for that Dave…). It reeks of religion and not relationship. It creates compliance, not life abundantly. It produces pettiness, not people with a purpose.
If God made us uniquely in our mother’s womb. If He called us according to a purpose before the foundations of the world were set. If He placed his Spirit inside us as a part of a many-membered body. It stands to reason that we have unique and specific callings that are different from others. Meaning, my money should not align exactly like yours, because I’m not you!
There’s just some things a hand will never do that a foot always does. That doesn’t make the hand dumb, or lazy, or “out in left field”. It just makes it different.
A money value helps us express the uniqueness of our call instead of living a “McChurch Money formula for success”.
We went on the trip.
We had a fabulous time. I met God as I went for runs on the beach in the morning. I got to experience his unmerited grace through the generosity of someone I hardly know.
Were there plenty of reasons not to go? Sure. It was a logistical challenge. I used more of my rewards points than I otherwise would. I have a toddler that doesn’t travel well. I struggle with last-minute change of plans. But once I put the decision into the framework of my money value and recognized it as an invitation, there was really only one clear choice.
Having a money value means you don’t have to concern yourself with every possible action, decison or scenario. You only have to consider the ones that might move you closer to your mission.
What’s your money value? I’d love to get a chance to read it. Drop it in the comments or email me in the box below.