Our first fight was about money. We had just gotten married and started pastoring a church. No one taught us about finances except for generalities that weren’t helpful. Four years later, we headed to Andrews for seminary with 10k in CC debt, a child, and a cut in pay. We survived and learned valuable lessons.
After 26 years in ministry, putting four kids through several levels of Adventist education, this is what we learned. Every person should examine their own lives and financial situation, we just wanted to share what has been helpful for us.
1. Give 20% of your income. Then increase it from there. We have always returned a double tithe. We give it first, before paying any bills. It’s our first fruits. The last 2 years we have increased 2% more. God always provides. Partial obedience is disobedience, especially in this area. Never compromise.
2. Tithing isn’t enough. Some believe that after you return to God what is His, the rest you can mismanage and still come out on top. The bible mentions finances 2,500 times for a reason. This was a big one for us. We went through Dave Ramsey’s Course which really helped.
3. Save for college. We started saving in a 529 for our kids when they were born. It’s a great feeling to pay for college up front because in 1994 we started saving. Not a lot, but even a little becomes much if it’s consistent. Our kids in college has been a relief not a burden financially. That’s why we can give more.
4. Purchase a home. This does not apply in all circumstances, but it has been a blessing for us even when we have moved.
5. Write a book. Adventist publishing will not make you rich. It will provide a bit extra. We always wanted to expose our children to mission work, this extra bit allows us to. Not everyone has a book in them, but many that do, don’t ever write it. Like a mentor once told me, “Publish or perish”. Just remember you are a pastor first, writing should be done on your own time.
6. Stay away from multi-level everything. Doesn’t work, damages your ministry influence and drags down your finances. The secret to financial success is three words: It. Takes. Time.
7. Ask yourself why. Shopping creates a sense of well-being, albeit temporarily. Why do I want this? Who is keeping me accountable in my finances? One rule of thumb for finances is this: If I have to engage in a conversation with myself about reasons to purchase it, it’s probably not the best decision.
8. Never borrow from church members. Never borrow, period. But especially from church members. Tragedy usually follows.
9. Pay attention to your investments. Ask questions. Attend the lectures. Early.
10. Never cosign for a church member. Almost always ends with drama.
What other ideas do you have? Share them in the comment section.