A friend of mine just lost his job. He’s in his 50s with two kids in college, and he’s worried. Another friend just laid off a large number of employees. And a surprising number of recent college graduates that I know are not landing jobs.
That’s a negative headline—but it’s a true headline. There are some job openings, people are getting hired, and there is hope! But we must admit it’s tough out there right now.
I talk with pastors around the country every week and “church finance” is all over the place. Some churches are doing well financially, and many are not. Few are just holding steady, it’s more like holding on.
During my first six months at Newport-Mesa as pastor, the church emptied out. You could have fired a shotgun in the sanctuary on Sunday morning and not hit anybody. Even the church finances began drying up. I had been faithful to build on the strengths God had given me, but I was a total failure.
That’s when I came face to face with another principle of godly leadership. It’s not enough to build on your own strengths, because they’re not enough to build God’s kingdom.
As a pastor, I’ve always found it difficult to talk about money, but I decided to bring the problem to the board. I asked the seven deacons to begin meeting me every Saturday at 6 a.m. for breakfast at a restaurant where we could have a private table. We would do three things: eat breakfast, pray and decide what bills to pay during the upcoming week.
Overhearing other people’s conversations can be dangerous! I stood in our church office and overheard someone talking about our benevolence giving.
“But is it reaping a return? Do any of these people ever come back and be part of the church?”
That short moment of eavesdropping changed how I view life and church. Do you give in order to receive?
We are all guilty of it. We work hard all week, but if all we get are negative reviews, we feel cheated and let down; or we stay with a family because it is our job, and hope that when this crisis is over they will become stalwart members of the congregation. We give to a woman in need and then feel let down when she doesn’t bring her kids on Sunday.
“These instructions are not empty words — they are your life! By obeying them you will enjoy a long life …” (Deuteronomy 32:47 NLT)
Many people think the Bible is only filled with commands labeled “Thou shalt not …” They assume the Bible is all about restrictions and making you lead a boring life.
But God wants you to live a joy-filled, healthy life. The last two factors for good health that I want to share with you should put a smile on your face.
Giving generously is good for your health. Every time you are generous, every time you are giving, it improves your health. You know, there are more promises in the Bible about giving than anything else, because God wants you to be like him. God is a giver.