Lutheran Church Extension Fund

Are your dollars sneaking out?

Monthly theme: Intentionality

Reading time: two minutes

When’s the best time to plant a tree? Thirty years ago. When’s the second best time? Today.

Our good friend from Concordia Plans, Eustolio Gomez taught this “Canadian Proverb” at about 200 Grace Place retreats!

Isn’t it odd how thirty years can seem to disappear overnight?

We would all like to think we’re more like the ant in Aesop’s Fable than we are like the grasshopper. A little advance planning each day gets us ready for winter.

But tomorrow becomes tomorrow, and before you know it thirty years is gone.

Financial resources sneaking out the back door due to poor money management is not a problem that’s unique to professional church workers.

There are some forces at work, however, that have a church vocation spin to them. Here’s what I mean.

Financial conversations are emotionally charged.

On our retreats, I like to ask couples, “What topic is so emotionally charged that we don’t deal with it as we should?” We want to identify what’s depleting the joy of life together.

As you can imagine, we get the whole range of responses. “Working too much.” “Disciplining children.” “Fishbowl.”

Quite often, the answer is “family finances.”

Eustolio did a great job of helping couples have the hard conversations about money. He helped us all see why these conversations are so emotional.

Part of it comes from our families of origin and how they handled finances, or our natural inclination as spenders vs. savers, or planners vs. buyers.

Part of our problem is that church work couples really care about each other.

A pastor or teacher paid below district guidelines might feel disappointed that they can’t offer their family more comforts and luxuries. It bothers them. They really care.

Their spouse knows how the church worker feels, and out of deep compassion stifles their frustrations, not wanting to make a sore spot worse.

So we don’t talk about it. It’s too emotional. Conversations about tight finances cause hurt and misunderstanding. We care to much to hurt each other by talking about it.

Instead, we make poor decisions. No budget planning. Credit debt. Soothing frayed emotions with unwise purchases. And soon, poor decisions get compounded like interest.

An intentional financial wellness plan begins with the hard conversations.

What a gift the grace of God is! By the gospel of Christ, families can come together and make new beginnings.

I’m hopeful that there are a few families reading this post today who will use it to start a conversation at home. If you are one of those, begin with grace. Remember that our Father welcomes with mercy even the most “prodigal” of us.

And He’s surrounded us with financial wisdom to get back on track. When’s the second best time to plant a tree? Today!

Your friends at LCEF, Concordia Plan Services, Thrivent Financial and others stand ready to give counsel, advice, and help you have those difficult conversations so that you can move forward. Somebody had that conversation yesterday.

Why not have yours today?

Thanks for reading.