Corporate Stewardship Begins with the Individual
Corporate Stewardship Begins with the Individual Reverend David A. Snipes – United Methodist Foundation of Western NC, Inc. Have you ever had to teach or preach something that you really were not “that” into? Have you ever heard words come out of your mouth within the context of ministry and question, “Where did that come from?” or “Do I really believe what I just said?” As a ministry professional, I’m sure you have. All of us have this experience at some point in our ministry. The challenge is to make sure that over time, we come to the place where what we preach is what we practice. Such is the case with stewardship. The philosophy of the United Methodist Foundation has always been that leadership begins with the pastor and/or ministry professional. After all, our call is to lead the flock within our particular areas of ministry, and what better way to do that than with passion and commitment to the particular subject at hand. In other words, if you want to teach good stewardship practices and principles, you must begin with the person in the mirror. There are many different facets to individual stewardship: saving, giving, spending, etc., but at the heart of personal stewardship is a budget. Unfortunately, our society has dictated that we can spend more than we make. However, that’s like building a house on sinking sand (Matthew 7). Eventually, everything will fall and you will be left picking up the pieces of a shattered life…not only for you, but for those you love as well. So the first order of business is to create a budget. Since most household bills such as electricity, water, cable TV, etc. are payable monthly, begin with a monthly budget. Start with your income. Even if you are paid weekly or bi-monthly, start with your total monthly income. Be certain to include any investment income in addition to your salary. Usually this part of the budget is easy. You may only have one, two or three sources of monthly income. The tough part of budgeting is making certain to include all your payables, especially those that might only be paid once or twice a year; i.e., insurance, taxes, memberships, etc. Also, be certain to include savings as a payable. You may wish to include several different savings line items that include : emergencies, college, retirement, or savings for a “large ticket” item such as a car or home you might purchase in the future. Some of the items that are missed on the payables side of the budget include miscellaneous expenses such as entertainment, dry cleaning, personal care (hair stylist), and co-payments for insurance and prescription medications. Be certain to include your spouse and/or significant other in this discussion. He/she may be able to call attention to things you may miss, plus it is always a good practice to have someone else be aware of your finances in case there comes a time when you are unable to care for your personal well-being. If you have never gone through this exercise before, know that fine tuning is part of the process. As your life changes; i.e., your salary increases, children prepare for college and you reach retirement, so will your budget. View your budget as being organic…changing with the surrounding environment. Once you settle in to operating your personal finances from a budget perspective, you will begin to experience a deeper sense of good, solid, biblical stewardship. Once this happens you, as a ministry leader in your setting, will be able preach and teach stewardship with more confidence. You will be glad you did so from a personal perspective, but more importantly, you will help the body of Christ as they grow in their discipleship. Good luck budgeting!