Financial Lesson #3: Live by your values, not your income.
I’m a little worried about moving on with so little feedback on my last finances post, but we’ll proceed anyways.
I think one of the BIGGEST steps we can make to healthy finances and Christ-like stewardship is to begin to live by our Values, rather then our Income. To make this conversation meaningful let me direct it to three different audiences:
Mr. College Student:
You are the one group I need to clarify something with: Most of you college students do not have an income. What does that mean? It means for a lot of you, you are going into debt to get yourself an education. Most folks would say that is a good thing, and some would say it’s not really debt, it’s an investment. I think I would agree with them, education is something I certainly value and I’m sure you do to, so this is a wise decision.
What does this also mean? It means you are going out to eat on the weekends, and bowling and buying concert tickets on money you don’t have. Going into debt on entertainment, does that align with your values?
Ms. Recent College Grad with the entry level job:
Congrats, you finally have your own income and are paying your own bills. It’s time to make some of those important decisions. There’s a good chance your still in debt for your school loans so some of what I said to the college students still applies. What that means is that you need to decided if it is more wise stewardship to pay off your student loans, or buy those fancy couches on lay-away.
I bet I know what most of you are choosing: your going to pay off the student loans, who needs fancy couches anyways? Especially you college students who had any exposure to global issues like poverty. To you folks it seems silly to buy a big screen TV for your living room when most folks in the world can’t put food on the table for their kids. That is your values speaking.
Mr. and Mrs. Nice job and In the money:
Hopefully your idealistic college days values are still in your mind. You have stepped into the world where the “American Dream” is possible and most would say necessary. You’ve got a better paying job and you darn well want to show it. You’ve been eyeing that BMW SUV and have kept your eyes open for a bigger home. And as far as everyone thinks there is nothing wrong with that: Higher Income = Higher Cost of Living. And suddenly your values are out the door. gone.
To clarify again I’ll leave you with a word picture and somewhat of a paraphrase of Luke 3:11*. Say your at home. A blizzard has just begun outside and you and your brother have to make the trek to school. You get to the closet first and see before you two coats. It’s quite cold outside so you take both the coats, leaving your brother with none. Is that what Christ called us to?
Now another word picture. You recently received a commission from your church to be a full-time missionary in your town. You don’t need to quit your job or anything, but rather just continue living and spend your time sharing the gospel with others. Here’s the neat thing: your church gives you a million dollar annual living stipend to support you. What does your home, car, lifestyle, etc. look like?