Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Day 36: Give me Wisdom

I realised the other day that the Christian teaching I've heard through preaches in my life could be split into the following (imagine a pie chart if you will) Probably 50% on caring for the poor as a general theme 30% on giving in faith, pledging to certain church projects - the emphasis being on pushing yourself to giving more than you think can realistically afford to see how God blesses you through that and maybe 20% on your attitude being detached from your material wealth – so just about not being concerned with being materialistic. I have had no – not even 1% of teaching about handling my money well, how to wisely use it and budget it on what I need – and though the phrase 'being a good steward of money' makes sense to me -I have never heard teaching about it. Actually I have heard of one man who came to a meeting I was at who was apparently the BEST teaching on money anyone had ever heard – I unfortunately, roped into creche duty, I missed all of it. BIG :(

The thing is I totally agree that the main issue we're taught on is caring for people in need. Working towards people everywhere being able to live with sustainable food, water, shelter, health and sanitation – goes without saying, is crucial.
Material wealth – definitely - it shouldn't be what we live for – we miss out on living if we do that. So yes, valuable teaching.
Giving with a step of faith... giving beyond your means in order to let God step in and bless you... I've heard this so many times..and actually I'm going to up the percentage I placed on that one because I do hear it so often. I understand why... I agree with the principle and I understand deeply - setting up a small charity and trying to work with a vision and make something happen from scratch – people need to stand with you, to support you, to financially invest into it, to care about it too, to take risks and step out for it – and it is so difficult when they don't.
The thing is that when I sit in a church meeting being challenged to think bigger, to give more to get the bigger vision, to allow something amazing to happen - to write the cheque that I know is more than I have...the cinical side of me has just noticed that this taps into the same aspect of my character as the Peter Jensen boot wanter (the shopaholic basically) . Now of course there are fairly obvious differences between wanting a boot (and its partner) and wanting to see lives transformed and radical social change ...I may have a shallow end but I do also have a deep end. But it is asking me to take the risk, not be bound my the consequences, step out and be part of something exciting. The thing is ... for me, and probably 90% of the people sitting on the other seats around me... that's not what we need to be challenged in. That sort of character 'quality' is why we're all in a mountain of credit card debt and can't afford our mortgages. I don't need to be challenged to be brave with my money... My problem isn't being greedy and keeping it to myself... Its more that I can't keep a fiver for 5 minutes! Giving money in faith is EASY ... but to be honest the consequences are sometimes a comedown. We wrote a cheque for £300 for an orphanage. Thankfully the cheque didn't bounce and they got the money but it took us nearly £200 overdrawn and cost us an extra couple of hundred to pay it off. No problem jumping in in faith... but reality hits that maybe God never asked us to.
People like me just like making purchases. People like me need teaching how to be careful, how to plan properly, budget properly - yes how to be generous, but with what we have...even if its all we have... but since cheque books, overdrafts, credit cards etc all give us access to spending what belongs to someone else (the bank) I'm not sure we are being asked to take that risk to the extent I sometimes am told we are. Sometimes I wonder how much more could have given and invested into amazing things, how much more I might have been able to give to that orphanage if only I'd had wisdom instead of just a fearless passion. I plan to find that out!

I still haven't checked it out but Beth gave me this link... aparently some teaching from the American version of Martin Lewis who is also a Christian... must give this a look at soon http://www.lifechurch.tv/message-archive/watch/life-money-hope.

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