Maybe it’s a story of driven, hard work—years of sustained effort to intentionally shape your financial future.
Maybe your story is one of powerful generosity—love for the marginalized, marked by an open hand and a willing checkbook.
Perhaps it’s a story of lifelong struggle—consistently overcoming the factors that made your financial future difficult from the day you were born.
Many people’s numbers tell a story of “never enough”—anxiety over what-ifs and regret over should-haves that drive the next financial decision.
Maybe your numbers—your finances—really tell a deeper story about YOU. I believe that they do, and I want to take a journey with you to unpack both your numbers and your story. I want to show you what’s possible.
It is possible to have a numbers story that speaks confidence to the world around you. Because God’s Word speaks straightforward financial wisdom, you really can make decisions from a place of firm footing without holding an advanced degree in finance.
It is possible to have a numbers story that is marked by contentment. You can be satisfied—deeply so—in your current financial situation, even while boldly pursuing “next steps” for savings, debt payment, and lifestyle goals.
It is even possible to have a numbers story that is marked by good communication with your spouse and family. You can learn how to approach financial decisions from a perspective-based level, working to align your goals while standing on the common ground of shared beliefs.
I have a numbers story, too, and there was a moment in time when I woke up to the fact that all of our stories are pretty similar—whether we have a lot or a little.
Mud Huts and Money
I grew up in the Midwest. As the son of an immigrant mom and a farmer-turned-factory-worker dad, my roots are humble. My parents worked hard to ensure that our family made it into the American middle class during my growing-up years.
As a young man, I was pretty enamored with new stuff (as most young men are). My love for baseball gloves turned into a love for clothes and cars, which then morphed into a love directed at a new house and a country club membership.
From my perspective, I was a normal, red-blooded American child of the 1950s. The pursuit of stuff—materialism—was woven into my DNA. I never had quite enough to satisfy the longings of my heart.
When I became a Christian in my thirties, God led my wife and me to make some radical decisions. These decisions would impact everything from career and location to family and home. My service shifted from small business owners through my thriving CPA practice to African pastors through leadership training events in places like Kenya and South Africa.
Needless to say, meetings in Sub-Saharan Africa were a bit different than meetings in suburban Indianapolis.
On one of my visits to Kenya, Pastor Daniel invited me to his home. Pastor Daniel lived with his wife and several children in a mud hut on the edge of a village. He and I sat in his yard, near his chickens, as we talked. We discussed the specific challenges he faced as he shepherded his congregation. While we talked, I couldn’t help but notice the drastic lifestyle differences between us . . . but there was something that also felt so familiar. The youngest of his children was playing nearby in the dirt with a D battery, thoroughly engaged in whatever imaginative scenario the battery represented. I found myself thinking about the imagination-boosting options available to my children on a Saturday morning (cartoons, Big Wheels, a sandbox, and a swing set, to start!) compared to his daughter’s “toy” battery. I was a bit chagrined.
As we chatted, I asked Pastor Daniel to share with me the biggest hindrance to the spread of the gospel in his part of the world. Without hesitation he answered, “materialism.”
I had to ask.
“You see,” he said, “if a man has a mud hut, he wants a stone hut. If he has a thatched roof, he wants a tin roof. If he has one room, he wants two rooms.”
Apparently, and much to my surprise, materialism is a disease of the heart that affects all people—it is not simply a disease suffered only by the “haves.” That day, I realized that the “haves” exist in every cultural context, no matter the relative poverty level!
My young mind was blown! From that moment on, I read Jesus’ teachings about money with a new set of lenses. I realized that Jesus talked so much about money because the issues money creates are not just issues of the wealthy; they are issues of humanity. Every person struggles with issues of money—materialism, greed, envy, control, stinginess, impulsivity, fear, and comparison.
Money is a great revealer of the heart.
Money is a great revealer of the heart. I often say that if you give me your bank statement, I can pinpoint you where you struggle and where you are free. I can identify your priorities and your goals. I can see what you love by looking at your checkbook. Many times, a checkbook will even show me what you fear. This trend is unsettling, but very true.
Jesus Himself famously said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21).
Where Is My Heart?
Ron Blue and Karen Guess, Never Enough? 3 Keys to Financial Contentment (Nashville, TN: B&H Books, 2017).
We have just released a new Bible study on biblical book of Never Enough.
These lessons are available on Amazon, as well as a part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.