4 Healthy Defaults for Balancing Family and Ministry – Part 4

money balancingIn this series of posts,  I have talked about the importance of seeking out a vision for family and ministry, while also establishing healthy defaults as we seek greater balance. Although balancing family is often a moving target, it doesn’t mean we should not aim to establish healthy patterns and systems in our family life. So far in this series we have talked about spiritual, relational, and physical defaults. Today, we wrap up the series by addressing financial defaults.

Now before you think finances are boring, consider this:

The way we manage our finances will positively or negatively impact both our family and ministry.

In addition, balancing family finances and ministry is a challenge and often feels like a sacrifice over time. My hope is that the sacrifice certainly feels worth it. (I know this is true for Lisa and myself). But it doesn’t mean that there are times when it is painful and bewildering.

Our Story: Six years ago we were blessed by the birth of our second child. We were also “blessed” with ER visits for myself, my wife, and our newborn in a span of 4 weeks. Before we knew it, we had thousands of dollars of medical debt and we were down to one income for a season. I can confidently tell you that our finances became a huge distraction that negatively impacted our family and ministry… I wish I could tell you that it was due to a set of unfortunate circumstances, (in part that was true), but I have to confess, we had our part to play in the perfect storm of financial struggles. Having medical debt only amplified our lack of healthy defaults in our financial planning…

What about you? I don’t know what your financial health looks like, but I would affirm the need to find some healthy defaults in this area of your family. Ultimately, financial health impacts family AND ministry.

  1. Determine your limits. Quite honestly, for us, we have often made the mistake of not setting appropriate limits on what we need and want. We have also discovered that my priorities differ from Lisa’s needs. It’s essential we take time to get on the same page and agree on what is essential when it comes to spending.
  2. Agree on a plan. Creating a budget and sticking to it is imperative. I’m fortunate that Lisa is a number cruncher and is a stickler for detail. There are often times when she needs to reign me back in and remind me of our budget plan that we took time to create and agree on.
  3. Save for the rain. Growing up in England, I could confidently expect rain. I wish I had learned to expect more rainy days in our finances. It’s not that I want to be thinking negatively, but it’s simply a reality that we need to face. After all, stuff breaks, emergencies happen, and savings are needed. Expect rainy days and find shelter under your savings. Practically speaking, how are you ensuring that you are saving a specific sum to build your rainy day fund?
  4. Save for the sun. In our experience, saving for rainy days and paying for “boring” stuff is made a whole lot easier if we are also saving for a vacation or getaway. Part of our family vision is to have experiences with our kids that are memorable. In particular, we love to travel and allow our kids to experience different cultures. While vacations can cost a pretty penny, we would rather go without new furniture and gadgets than miss making memories on our family getaways. They are worth saving for.
  5. Give generously. In our experience, tight finances are always an opportunity to trust God more with what He has given us. While our default might be to cut back on giving God our first and best, it’s the lean times that allow us to learn about God’s faithfulness. Therefore, it’s essential that we not only continue to give generously, but also pray about giving sacrificially. God has amazed us with His faithfulness even when it has seemed to make no human sense to give generously… How about you?

What would you add to this list? What financial plan do you follow? What have you been learning about how best to balance family finances and ministry? 

Phil <><

photo credit: Precarity via photopin (license)

5 Priorities for Families in the New Year

Family PrioritiesI’m not one to make new years resolutions. Most of my previous new years resolutions have been made new years eve, or on new years day!

If you are like me, I have not been good at keeping resolutions since there is no plan or follow through.

So, rather than create a resolution that I am likely not to keep, I would rather create some evolving priorities that are easy to remember and return to throughout the year.

Here are 5 easy to remember (and crucial) priorities that we can plan and implement this new year:

1) FAITH: The foundation for a healthy family is for everyone to be building a foundation of faith based on God’s priorities. While this is easily said, so often the busyness of life takes over and a healthy devotional life and God centered priorities get edged out. The new year is a great time to start a new bible reading plan, or a devotional study. For me personally, it’s more about creating a new place and space in my life for my quiet times. Having moved houses in the last month, it’s imperative that I establish a new habit and find a new place (and time), where I can ‘hide’ away.

When is your best time to focus on your faith walk? Where can you hide away? What will you read / study this year?

2) FAMILY TIME: If your family schedule is anything like ours, it can often feel like we are barely treading water at times. So often family time, date nights, and meals together get added in AFTER everything else. I am convinced that every family will benefit by quality AND quantity time together. So often I hear people try to convince me that quality time is enough. I am still not convinced.

Healthy families need QUALITY AND QUANTITY time together.

3) FITNESS: Personally, this has been an area of struggle for me that I have had to work on over the past few years. However, it seems like every year for the past three years, I have added in some new habits and lost some bad habits. Staying in shape is challenging, but the mental and physical rewards are worth it. As a husband, father, and pastor, I have seen a positive correlation in my leadership when I am staying in shape. My energy levels are higher, my awareness is greater, and I am able to get up earlier in the morning to focus on my quiet times.

All it takes is one step at a time to make fitness a priority. Start with some small steps and work your way towards a healthier you.

4) FINANCES: A healthy financial focus is a significant key to families being content. It’s not even so much about having more money, it’s about doing better with what God has given us. When we can see that God is the provider of all our needs, (and our resources are not our own), we can take a huge step to financial contentment. When we develop God’s heart for for finances we can be sure He will bless us as we give generously and spend wisely. What is God calling you to do with your finances this year?

5) FUN: While this priority might not seem to deserve to make this list, let me explain why it should. In our increasingly busy world that is incensed with success and notoriety, I am seeing many husbands and wives losing the joy of marriage and parenthood. Busyness is creating a society of stressed out parents and kids who have lost the wonder and awe that life is waiting to provide. This year, as a family, I encourage you to create some experiences that allow you to regularly laugh and play together. What could your family look like if you were to laugh and play together more?

Well, there’s 5 priorities I am taking seriously this year. What stands out to you? What has worked for you in the past?

Phil <><

photo credit: Pete Reed via photopin cc

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