Financially Healthy Spirituality
By Rich Villodas
At New Life Fellowship Church, where I pastor, we spent six weeks in a message series titled Financially Healthy Spirituality. The thesis of our series was, “It’s impossible to be spiritually mature, while remaining financially immature.” The series impacted me significantly, as I (and my wife) have been on our own journey with regard to stewardship, generosity and following Jesus. More than this being a series on money, we tried to get to the deeper issues, which makes talking about money so difficult. Things like fear, possessiveness, attachment to stuff, and status are some of those deeper, insidious issues. The reality is that money (like no other thing, perhaps) exercises an incredible stronghold in our hearts, and to get free from it is like an addict getting free from drugs.
ELEVEN WAYS TO GET ON THE PATH OF FINANCIALLY HEALTHY SPIRITUALITY
So, as I’ve been thinking about my own journey, and New Life Fellowship as a community, I thought it would be helpful to highlight some next steps for people. I compiled this list from my own reading and experience and from further reflection during our message series. This list is not exhaustive in any way, but it’s a good start. I’ve also added some small commentary.
#1 EXPERIMENT – ARE YOU ATTACHED?
Experiment: Go around the house, find a possession that you value and ask, am I growing too attached to this object?
The root issue here is discerning the things in our lives that have attached to our hearts in unhealthy ways. This exercise forces us to look honestly at our lives, and begin the process of “detaching” from things that are hindering us from being generous. God is after our freedom, and this is a great way to embrace the freedom he offers.
#2 PLANNED SPENDING: DEVELOP A BUDGET
One of the most significant problems that we had (prior to the change in our lives) was keeping account of where our money was going. As a result, we found ourselves anxious, uncertain and without a strong sense of direction. I’d like to encourage you to take the time each month to get a clear picture of where your money is going. If you have questions about resources to help you out, I’d say to look for a basic budget software online (e.g. Quicken)
#3 PLANNED GIVING: GENEROSITY AND TITHING
At New Life, we encourage Christ-followers to build in the discipline of giving 10% of their income (preferably gross). Tithing is like training wheels. It puts you on a track to build an intentional practice of being generous with your resources. Maybe you’re not at a place to give 10%. It’s all good. I’d recommend that you put yourself on a plan (3 months, 6 months, 1 year, etc.) to increase your giving. For example, maybe you can only give 4%. Put yourself on a track to give 4% faithfully, with the understanding that in 6 months, you will be in position to give 7%. And on, and on.
#4 GO TO SCHOOL: FINANCIAL PEACE UNIVERSITY
I high recommend a helpful resource by Dave Ramsey called FPU. If you are looking for a comprehensive course to get you on the right financial track, this is the place for you.
#5 PURCHASES: TRUST GOD
When you decide that it is right for you to purchase a particular item, see if God will not bring it to you without your having to buy it.
My wife and I have seen God at work in our lives, since we made a decision to live with greater financial integrity. I hope to share some of the incredible blessings that have come to us. God is incredibly kind and generous and longs to bless us in surprising ways. Sometimes we just need to be a bit patient.
#6 EAT OUT LESS
Sometimes it’s difficult and challenging, but a good home cooked meal is more satisfying than spending a lot of money for a meal.
#7 GENEROSITY: GIVE IT AWAY
Practice giving away things. So many of us have so much stuff, that it would be good to start giving it away. We have a food and clothing pantry at New Life. Ask God how you can creatively give some of your stuff away.
#8 FUNCTIONALITY OVER STATUS
Buy things for their usefulness, not for their status.
#9 DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE
Don’t believe the hype. (e.g. commercials, sales at malls, store credit cards for lower prices, ‘buy now, pay later’ deals)
#10 SIMPLICITY DOESN’T MEAN CHEAPNESS
Just because you want to cut back on some things, doesn’t mean it’s time to be cheap. In the long run, it’s financially expedient to buy something that will last longer, than purchasing cheaper items, more often.
#11 RUTHLESSLY ELIMINATE DEBT
I don’t know if anything inhibits generosity like debt. And nothing shackles us spiritually like it (Proverbs 22:6-7). Our goal should be to create a plan to get out of this trap!
Rich Villodas is the Teaching and Associate Lead Pastor at New Life Fellowship Church. Rich graduated from Alliance Theological Seminary with a Masters of Divinity degree in Theological Studies. He is a native Brooklynite and an avid fan of the Mets, Knicks and Jets. Rich is married to Rosie and they have a little girl, named Karis. You can find out more about New Life Fellowship by visiting www.newlifefellowship.org You can also follow Rich on Twitter.