And the Lord said,Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. (Luke 12:42 & 43).
God has given each of us some wonderful resources to manage for Him. There are, however, many among us who have not had the opportunity to learn how to properly manage these resources. Money is probably the first resource that comes to our mind, but it is only one of many that God has placed in our care for proper management. He has also given us time, talents and abilities, skills, and the environment around us with all the plants and animals it contains. We are His stewards of all these things. What an awesome responsibility that is!
The purpose of this booklet is to put forth some principles for managing your resources in a Scriptural manner. While this speaks mostly about managing your money, it can also be applied to managing any of your other resources. The principle is the same, whatever the resource. Managing a resource is really nothing more than protecting it from loss, or damage, while using it to provide the benefit it was intended to supply.
The Scriptures quoted here are from the King James version with the words of Jesus in red unless otherwise noted. Please don't just blindly accept what is written here, but ask the Holy Spirit to reveal His truth in these matters.
And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. (Luke 12:42 & 43).
What or, Who, is a Steward?
According to Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language, College Edition, A steward is 1. A person put in charge of the affairs of a large household...whose duties include supervision of the kitchen, and the servants, management of household accounts, etc. 2. One who acts as a supervisor or administrator, as of finances and property for another or others.
Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary defines stewardship from a Christian's point of reference. It adds to the description, these words: "As far as Christian's are concerned, stewardship involves the responsibility of managing God's work through the church. God has appointed all Christians to be His stewards on earth. Stewardship is not an option, as Paul points out about his own call. Being a steward is a necessary part of believing the gospel, even if it involves sacrificing personal rewards. (1 Cor. 9:17)" This verse is in a passage of Scripture, 1 Cor. 9:1 through 19, where Paul speaks of the stewardship of` his call to preach the gospel where even though he could have legally done so, he did not charge those to whom he preached.
God has made us Stewards
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. (Genesis 1:26).
He has given us dominion over the entire earth, including all that is on it. Even though Adam and Eve fell from His grace, man still has dominion over the earth. We have the choice of how we take care of it and those things found on it. God has entrusted us with, or given us stewardship, over the entire earth. He has made us caretakers of His property. In fact, even we are the property of Christ, which He purchased with His own blood. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. (Acts 20:28).
So then, we are stewards of the Lord's property. We should become faithful and wise in our stewardship of His property. In Matthew, Chapter 25 and verses 14 through 30, we read the parable of the talents where five was given to one, two to another, and one to the third servant. When the master returned, he asked for an accounting of the talents given to his servants. The one who had been given five gained five more; the one with two had gained two more. These two servants heard the master say: "His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord." The one who had been given one talent was afraid of the master because he knew he was a hard man who reaped where he had not sowed so he buried his one talent, gaining no increase. The master was displeased with this servant and gave this command: Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto everyone that hath will be given, and he will have abundance: but from him that hath not will be taken away even that which he hath. (Matthew 25:28 & 29) This portion of Scripture gives us good reason to become wise and faithful stewards. And these verses in Luke give us even more reason. He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. 11If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? (Luke 16:10 & 11)
Jesus tells his disciples, in Luke 12:42 to 46, about how we should at all times be busy doing his master's work. And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath. But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.
What does this mean to us?
As stewards, it means we are in charge of managing the property and other resources God has placed in our care. Some of these resources are our body, our time, the talents and abilities He has given us, our money, and the environment around us. This list is only a small part of all that He has made us managers over. Many more could be listed, but this article will address the management of the money God has allowed us to use.
What is meant by the term "Managing a Resource?"
Managing a resource is really nothing more than protecting it from loss, or damage, while using it to provide the benefit it was intended to supply. When you apply this definition to money, it means we need to be careful about our saving and spending habits. Because His Blood has bought us, we have nothing that is ours. Paul tells us in verses 1, 2 and 7 in the fourth chapter of First Corinthians that everything we have God has given to us. "Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful."-"For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?" In verse 10 of the fourth chapter of First Peter, we read "As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God" That verse, in the Amplified Bible states it this way: "As each of you has received a gift, a particular spiritual talent, a gracious divine endowment, employ it for one another as befits good trustees of God's many-sided grace - faithful stewards of the extremely diverse powers and gifts granted to Christians by unmerited favor." Regardless of what we have received, be it a little or a lot, it has come from God and we will eventually be held accountable for how we have managed it.
Whatever we might acquire is because He has blessed us with skills and talents and not because of our great power. When we give up ownership of the money we have by realizing it actually belongs to God, not ourselves, the task of managing it properly becomes less difficult. It is His money, not ours, that we are managing for Him. Our only concern then should be to ask Him how He wants us to use it. To do this wisely it seems we should have a "plan" for how we will go about the task. Plans for handling money are called a "budget" and usually cover a calendar year period.
What is a budget?
A budget is normally thought of in connection with money. However, people sometimes speak of "budgeting" their time to accomplish some goal they have set. So, it would seem a budget is "a plan to make maximum use of your resources" to accomplish some previously set goal. A "budget" then might be used in connection with not just our money, but also our time, skills, talents, or abilities. While this article deals with the budgeting of money, the principles involved are also applicable for other resources you wish to manage and improve. The concepts for managing money can easily be adapted to managing any of the other resources God has placed in our care. To make use of this plan for budgeting one of your other resources, just substitute the term for that resource where the word "money" is used here. Whatever the resource you are "budgeting," the principle remains the same; you need to adjust what is to be accomplished against the resource available to do it.
When applied to money, it is simply the answer to these two questions.
How much money do I have?
How do I want to spend it?
The first question is often much easier to answer than the second one because we generally know how much money we earn.
Knowing how we really want to spend it is more difficult to answer because there usually is not enough to cover all we want to buy. Making those decisions about what is really not that important to us is sometimes very difficult. Separating our needs from our wants is painful. Often we don't really want to have to "buy" some of those needs if it means we can't "buy" some of our wants. For most people there are several items that cannot be eliminated from the list. They are rent, or house payment, transportation costs, food, insurance, utilities, and taxes. Some of these might be reduced but they will still be required expenses. Other, expenses that are not required might be reading material such as newspapers and magazines, entertainment, dining out, telephones, and other items which might be considered as nice but not necessary.
Why would you want to do a budget? It will allow you to plan how you will spend (or save) the money that you have available for you to use. It will also cause you to consider the importance, to you, of the various items in your "want to buy" list. Budgets are generally for a 12-month period, usually for a calendar year. They may include items you want later that have a high purchase price. This can help you plan your finances ahead so you will have saved out money to help pay for them.
What will a budget do for you?
Help you to determine exactly how much, and to whom, you are indebted.
Help you to determine how much money you have available to spend.
Help you to plan for improving your financial situation.
Help you to set goals to gain important items you have wanted or now want.
Help you to reduce the urge to "buy on impulse," items you really don't want or need but think it would be nice to have.
Help you to plan for future "large price" purchases rather than always not having enough money for them.
The first task therefore is to determine, and list, how much money you have available. In most cases, this is your wage from where you work. Sometimes it might also be income from a second job, a settlement of some kind, an endowment or other income you might be entitled to receive. The total of these items, then become your available money to spend.
A word of caution! It is important for you to include only actual monies you have a reasonable expectation of receiving in your list of income. Including income you don't have, just because you asked God to send you money, is poor planning unless He has specifically directed you to accomplish a specific task. There are numerous accounts throughout church history where individuals depended entirely upon the Lord to supply all of their financial needs. For most of us, however, He will require us to earn our income in the conventional manner through employment.
Your second task is to identify all of the required costs you must pay. List each item on a separate line with the exact cost next to it. When you have listed, all of the required costs then begin a separate list of those items you would like but don't actually require in order to survive. You now have three lists: income, required costs, and wanted costs.
The third task will be to actually begin putting a budget together from these three lists of items. If you are doing this using pencil and paper, you will need a page having 13-columns of width and however many items you have for lines down the page, or pages. If you will be doing it on a computer, which is much easier, there are several pre-programmed software packages designed expressly for this purpose. The two most commonly used are Intuit's "Quicken" and Microsoft's "Money." Any good computer spreadsheet program will also work.
Set up the page with the 13-columns across the top using the first column as "Item Name," and the remaining 12 columns are one for each month of the year. Begin listing the income items with the amount you will receive each month. After you have listed each income item, mark the next row across as a subtotal for income.
You now are ready to begin listing the items from the second list. This is the one where required items are listed. List them on the sheet in a similar manner as the income where the type of required payment is in the first column and then the amount due for each month across the page. When you have finished entering all the items from the second list, you should make the next line across another subtotal for required costs. Subtracting the individual, monthly-required costs from that month's income total provide you with the amount of money you can spend on non-required items for that month. Sometimes, however, you may find that you will need to save the excess from one month to balance out a later month. When you have made the computations for each of the 12 months of the year, you then have a picture of how much you have available for items from the third list.
Sometimes there isn't enough income to cover all of your required costs and you then must decide how to reduce these "fixed" costs. Cutting back on food might be one means, using fewer utilities is another. If you rent, moving to a less expensive rental is a possible option. If you own, it might help to look into refinancing to lower your monthly mortgage payment. Reducing insurance coverage levels is another option to consider. Seeking additional, or different, employment is also an option to consider. None of these would necessarily be "forever" types of adjustments but they might get you over your present bind until you can improve your financial situation.
The really difficult part:
The really difficult part of the budget process is now before you, as you must select only those items that are the most important to you, until you have exhausted that month's money supply. Usually there will be many things you want but not enough money to buy them all. This is where you must establish priorities, making the decision to rank them by importance to your overall plans. Making the decision about what is most important to you is often very difficult because they all, in one way or another, seem needed. The good news is once you have finished ranking them by importance to you, the budget is then easy to complete.
Now that you have completed a budget, keep in mind it is not a "cast in stone" document. While deviations from it should seldom be made, it must be considered a somewhat flexible tool for managing your finances. Adjustments to individual items can be made as long as offsetting changes are made in other areas so total expenses do not exceed available income.
Establishing a budget should be based upon spending no more than your available income. There are, however, times when it is necessary to make purchases which cost more than available income. Some of these would include a home or a car. An unexpected emergency requiring a large expenditure of money will also cause serious damage to your budget which will require you to borrow to meet the need. You can make provisions in your budget for purchasing a costly item by including the monthly repayment costs for borrowing the money to buy them. Unexpected expenditures are more difficult to predict but it is wise to include a little money each month in your budget to cover these unanticipated costs. Doing so will help keep you from the burden of having to borrow money at high interest rates. If you have not, or are not able to set an amount for emergencies aside each month borrowing money then will become necessary to meet this financial need. It must be understood there is a cost to borrowing money. Basically, when you borrow money you are actually "renting it" from someone, usually a bank or other lending institution such as a credit union. The "rent" payment is called interest, which is included in the repayment schedule.
The Cost of Using Borrowed Money:
The cost to borrow, or "rent" money, varies considerably depending upon several factors. These may include, why you need to borrow, the type of institution lending you the money, the length of the repayment schedule and your overall financial condition.
Typically, "payday advance" institutions will be the most expensive places to rent money. They seldom ask for detailed credit history from you but the interest rate usually runs between 15 and 25 percent. Sometimes the rate may be as high as 50 percent. This means that when you borrow $100.00, you will have to pay the institution $115.00 if the rate is 15 percent, $125.00 if the rate is 25 percent or $150.00 if the rate is 50 percent.
Credit card interest rates run between 12 and 25 percent which are still a very high price to pay. Keep in mind that rate is applied to the unpaid balance each month until the account is paid in full. If you have a large balance still outstanding, it is possible the interest charged will be as much as the required payment. When that is the case, it will take forever to get free from the burden of that loan.
Many people have placed themselves in serious financial trouble by using credit cards to live beyond their income. It is extremely easy to acquire a credit card today. In fact, invitations to apply for credit cards are often received in the mail. Credit cards can be quite convenient but, the temptation to spend money you may not be able to repay becomes a very real threat to your financial health. A good practice would be, to use credit cards only for purchases which are included in your monthly budget along with paying the bill in full when it is due.
Most credit card companies do not charge interest when the bill is paid in full each billing period. You should cancel any credit card where interest is charged even when paid in full each billing period because it is costing you money you don't need to spend.
Banks and Credit Unions usually will charge lower interest rates, especially for long term loans but they will be more particular about your overall credit history and total financial health. Their loan rates may vary from a low of five to a high of 15 percent.
As you can see from the above statements, borrowing money can be very expensive. Often, it is wise to "do without" until you can save enough to make the purchase without borrowing money. Saving, even if it is only a very small amount each pay day, will eventually allow you to purchase without borrowing. While credit is a wonderful financial tool, it can also be a horrible quagmire of debt that will strangle you. Use it wisely and it is a friend but used unwisely it becomes a terrible enemy.
Budgeting as a Tool for Managing Resources:
You can apply the budgeting lessons, described above, to managing your talents, skills and abilities along with your goals. Begin by listing those resources and the goals you wish to accomplish. One of the resources you have is time. Most of us spend time quite foolishly without realizing it. We often take much more time to accomplish simple tasks than is necessary by letting our mind wander off into space rather than concentrating on the task before us.
Begin the process by listing your talents, skills and abilities. Make a separate list of the tasks required of you for each day along with a reasonable time period to accomplish them. Your final list, will be the goals you wish to accomplish with completion dates for each item.
Each day's time is a set amount - 24 hours. We can't change that. The tasks you have listed might be divided into those which are absolutely required and others that possibly could be altered or deleted. Making modifications to this list can provide time which then will become available for other tasks from your "goals" list.
Your list of resources (talents, skills and abilities) will help you determine how you might better manage your available time. For instance, your ability to think things through to a conclusion could be combined with skill in writing to construct step-by-step instructions for accomplishing a task. Then that can be used to identify steps that are not absolutely necessary to the realization of that task which would shorten the time required to complete it. This would then free up time you could use to accomplish other tasks. Doing this with all the tasks you must do can provide you many minutes to even hours of extra free time each day. You thereby begin to work smarter not harder.
In determining your goals in life you should submit your interests and desires to God in prayer and wait for His answer. He will answer but you must be listening for His voice. It may come as you are reading His Word, as an audible voice, as a strong urging deep inside you, as God speaking through others or some other means. Just remember that the answer must line up with His Word, be confirmed in the mouth of two or more witnesses and leave you with a perfect peace about it. If any one of these is missing then you need to question whether the answer was from God.
July 3, 2004
If you desire additional information you may contact me: Bill
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