I’m guessing most of you have already seen the headline: Fiscal Distress Number One Cause For Church Worker Loss. That’s not just an LCMS lead story, but announcements from the Synodical headquarters to the LCEF Tri-Synod study on the financial health of church workers and leaders from a few years ago remind us that personal finances is numero uno on the detriment-to-ministry hit list. That’s so interesting since our shekels (our possessions/talents) are addressed in the Scriptures almost more frequently than any other issues.
Our friends at the Gallup organization* to whom I have been referring throughout this series offer a few poignant deductions. Firstly, our total net worth does not buy fiscal well being. Financial wellness really turns out to be defined as ‘the perception that you have enough money to adequately take care of yourself and your family without the burden and stress of debt.’ Are you there?
Beyond that, your well being is kind of tied to your generosity. People who give to others rather than lavish themselves feel better, live better, and serve better. Have you heard that one somewhere?
Spending disposable income on memories and experiences is healthier than spending it on stuff. Credit cards are the great decoupling device heaping the stress of debt on our perceived needs and not always clearly thought out desires. Finally, we tend to accumulate debt, and therefore accumulate stress, rather than putting in default systems like savings plans that do defer gratification, and/or pre-activated bill payment. Why do we do this to ourselves?
The time to stop, turn, and do things differently, especially with our finances, is now! I need to hear this as much or more than you, and hear it every day.[infobox color=”000000″ backgroundcolor=”f5f5e4″ bordercolor=”0f9347″ icon=”attention-orange” ]Our Synod has some phenomenal resources to assist us in working on our fiscal well-being, from the financial educators at Concordia Plan Services, to the good folks at LCEF and their personal financial services for rostered church workers, of which they have a great many. Certainly, if you are a Thrivent member, there are a host of budget balancing, debt-reducing and retirement planning resources readily and professionally at your service. [/infobox]
Use them, and remember as ole’ Churchill said…the greatest fear is fear itself, and this certainly applies to beginning to address our fiscal wellness. Get started!
*Well Being: The Five Essential Elements,Jim Harter and Tom Rath, Gallup Press, May 4, 2010.