29Jan

Every Christian Needs a Budget

15 months ago we owed a mountain of it. Now we owe half a mountain of it.

It used to be the only thing we ever fought about.

Now it’s possibly what we’re in the most agreement about.

Money

 

The turning point for us was not adding up the total carnage our student loans (a necessary evil) had caused. It was also not the months and months of not really knowing where our money was going because we always seemed to have what we needed.

The turning point for us came when we realized that managing our money was not primarily a financial issue but a discipleship issue.

In our journey through Dave Ramsey‘s Financial Peace University (which my wife now teaches at our church, like a boss) we realize that we were doing an okay job of honoring God in every part of our lives…except our finances. (Click here to find out where FPU is offered in your area).

We were being selfish, ungrateful, poor stewards of what God has entrusted to us.

The Bible has a lot to say about money, but this one passage has been burned in my memory since the day God started convicting us about the way we were failing in this area. We were sitting at our kitchen table and it hit me like a ton of bricks:

Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds, for riches do not last forever; and does a crown endure to all generations? – Proverbs 27:23-24

My mom has sheep in her backyard. Like…actual sheep. Every couple of months she has some new lambs born and she bottle feeds them until they can take milk from their mom.

I, unlike my mother, am not a shepherd. I do not have flocks and herds but I do have debt and income that at times feels like it’s burning a hole in my pocket.

As we looked at the numbers that were looking rather menacingly back at us, I realized I did not “know well the condition of our flocks.”

We didn’t have a budget. I wasn’t “giving attention to our herds.” When we wanted something, we just bought it. We didn’t have extravagant tastes and we didn’t shop a ton, but a bit too much is still…too much.

So we got on a budget. A strict one.

But we didn’t get on a budget because it was the wise thing to do. We didn’t get on a budget because we needed structure. We didn’t even get on a budget because Dave Ramsey told us too.

We got on a budget because we are Christians.

We got a budget because we started living what we said we believed, and what the Bible says is true:

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” – Psalm 24:1

We both make more money now than we did the day we first discovered we needed a budget. We both plan to continue to make more money as we gain more experience and skill in our respective careers.

However, we will never make enough money to not need a budget because we will never stop being borrowers of that which God is eternal owner.

Even if you make truckloads of money, you will one day be held accountable for how you managed it. You and I don’t really own anything as long as God owns everything. We’re managers at best.

It’s been said before, but can you imagine what the world would be like if the Church was debt-free and lived on a budget?

Think of the problems that could be eliminated as a direct result of the way Christians lived in the world, refusing to stockpile treasures in this world.

Nobody in the world would be hungry. No orphan would go neglected and unloved. Churches would not need to have capital campaigns to pay off buildings they can’t afford because they would be filled with people who were more concerned with loving people and furthering the kingdom of God than building bigger barns and fancier buildings.

We all (especially me!) need budgets so we can best manage that which God has entrusted to us.

budgetquote

You can click here for the zero-based monthly cash flow budget template we use every month.

Question: Do you use a budget? If so, how has your experience been? If not, are you pleased with the current state of your finances?

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3 comments

  1. Steven, no joke, just yesterday I was thinking I need a budget. I have lived well beneath my means for awhile (which, as you seem to point out, isn’t necessarily an excuse for not having a budget) but recently my spending has increased which caused me to think yesterday “I probably need a budget” Then I saw your blog post on Facebook.

    • Caleb, we’ve mostly been in a similar situation before we went through Financial Peace University and created a budget, told every dollar where to go. There’s a link to the budget form we used to create ours but now all of our budgeting stuff is handled through mint.com, linked to our bank account. We still draw cash for everything other than gas and utilities but that’s not necessarily the point here. Let me know if we can help in any way! Our budget has actually been one of the most freeing things for us, not binding.

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