Christian money management is a way of handling money that is designed to focus on God’s glory and purposes.
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ… (Philippians 1:27)
Christian money management is more comprehensive than how you invest your assets or staying out of debt. It’s about how you think about and handle all of the money that flows through your hands. Christian money management involves a thought process that results in capturing all of the financial decisions you make so you can live a life that aligns with God’s purpose for you and is worthy of the gospel. So, here are four elements you should consider:
1. Develop a money management mission statement
Many stumble through life and simply react to their circumstances. They make money decisions as needs or wants show up, and they have no real guidelines or overarching plan. So, how might biblical money management look at this differently? Well, if your heart’s purpose is to glorify God as you follow Jesus in everything (living a life worthy of the gospel), the way you think about and handle money will reflect that. And this will involve discipline and not always taking the easiest path – like using debt – as we move forward.
So, the first step is to think through what your money-life should look like as you keep Jesus first. This first step should involve writing down your mission and convictions (what you will and what you won’t do). It might look something like this:
GENERAL MISSION – I desire, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to live my life focused on Jesus. I want to be a true disciple that cares about what Jesus cares about. I want to live a selfless life of faith and mission – a life worthy of the gospel.
FINANCIAL MISSION – I will, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, be a steward of the money God has entrusted to me. My finances will reflect my faith in Jesus and a commitment to his mission of saving the lost. I will Invest in heavenly riches that do not fade away (Matt 6:20)
SPECIFIC FINANCIAL AFFIRMATIONS – Here are six biblical principals or values that can connect directly to Christian money management:
- All things – including money – are from God and to be used for God’s purposes and glory (Romans 11:36).
- The best and smartest investment I can make is eternal (permanent) (Matt 6:20).
- Greed is idolatry (Eph 5:5).
- God will give me all I need (Phil 4:19).
- I can be content with whatever God gives me because he will never leave me (Heb 13:5).
- Happiness is to be found in fellowship with God and not in money (Ps 16:11; Ps 144:15)
For more info on developing a mission statement, you can read our article HERE.
2. In light of your mission, prayerfully work through your priorities
The priorities we embrace is a defining issue. What we want determines where our money goes. When we have complicated, critical, and often conflicting decisions to make, we must be careful. And since for most of us there are more needs and wants than there is money, this can present real danger. If we’re not thinking with clarity, we will likely make bad decisions that could have long-term impact.
Often the timing of these commitments can create stress. For example, while it seems as though we can afford that new house or that car, we might fail to anticipate the increased expenses that an arriving child or college costs might bring. Things like housing, transportation, giving, college costs, retirement, vacations, Christmas, and all-things-children become essential to think about as we develop our money management agenda.
Intentionally thinking through our priorities can help us understand what’s coming, and it can inform the way we prioritize our spending. Most folks will work through this along with a general understanding of their financial capabilities.
Here’s another article on Christian financial priorities
3. Create/Analyze your budget
A budget not only helps us understand how much money is coming in and where it’s going, it also helps us make spending decisions. When we have this down on “paper” we can better understand it, communicate it, and make changes. While the thought of budgeting can create stress, this critical if we are going to have a financial structure that compels us to think about our choices.
If you’re a detailed person, you might love budgeting, but most people don’t. The good news is that it doesn’t need to be laborious or complicated or time-consuming. While some folks love the detail, most do not – I don’t. I don’t want to spend hours accounting for each expense. So, for many, it’s essential to have an easy way to approach budgeting (see our method and video HERE).
4. Create action steps
Specific action steps can be far-reaching, difficult and faith dependent. Essential things to address might be simplifying your lifestyle, eliminating consumer debt, reducing insurance costs, reducing the entertainment/eating out expense, and creating a reserve.
Here’s an article you might like called Learning Money Management from Jesus.
Questions about Christian money management
Is Christian money management about investing?
Yes and no. While your management plan should include how you invest your money, that is just a small element. Biblical money management contains all aspects that determine your financial decisions. When we constrict biblical money management to investment decisions we leave critical financial choices up for grabs.
How do I manage money when everything is changing?
While it’s true that our lives and our spending dynamics can change regularly, it’s essential to review our money management plan frequently. By making many small adjustments (and sometimes big adjustments) we can keep moving in the right direction.
What is the foundation of Christian money management?
The foundation for everyone (Christian or not) is the priorities you are moving toward. Money management doesn’t happen in a vacuum. There is always an overriding goal and purpose. Make sure you write this out clearly – what you want and why. Here’s our article on a personal mission statement.
How do I balance all of this?
Making the many changing decisions in front of us is not about balance. It’s not about doing a little bit of everything and hoping you will get where you want to go. It’s all about following Jesus in our money choices. We must pray for guidance and guard against serving money.
How does a budget fit into this?
While budgeting is not the only tool in a money management toolkit, it is very important. See our article and video on a simple budgeting method.