Editor’s note: This post was revised from a series introducing the Ecumenical Stewardship Center’s COMPASS Initiative, which engages young adults in conversations about faith and finances.
Enough is an interesting word. Sometimes we use it to express a sense of satisfaction, and other times to declare our annoyance. In North America, though, when it comes to money, sometimes we find it hard to say “enough.” Our consumeristic culture entices us to always want more, and we get caught in financial traps that leave us with more obligations than resources to pay for them. How do we find our enough?
In his book Simple Money: A No-Nonsense Guide to Personal Finance, author Tim Maurer points out that our values greatly influence how we manage our money and how we find our enough. He says that values are simply:
- The stuff in life that we want to be about.
- That which we want to define us.
- The guideposts that we want to live by.
He goes on to say, “Values are critical as anchors for our goals and boundaries for the actions we take to achieve them. But most of all, they make the hardest decisions in life much easier by helping us prioritize what truly is the most important. Understanding what you value most will help simplify even the most complex financial decisions.”
Maurer introduces his readers to George Kinder, an expert in studying the intersection of money and life. In his book The Seven Stages of Money Maturity, Kinder invites readers to imagine that they are financially secure—that they’ve reached their enough—and answer these questions:
- How would you live your life?
- What would you do with your money?
- What would you change?
As followers of Jesus, the values Maurer talks about and the life decisions Kinder discusses are influenced by what we read in Scripture, what we learn from others in our faith community, and how we are led by God’s spirit through our relationships with our Creator. Consider these words from 2 Corinthians 9:6-8:
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
Is the Christian value of generosity expressed in 2 Corinthians reflected in the way you handle your money? If not, why not? What do you need to change to align your values and your finances more closely?
Simply saying “enough” probably isn’t enough for those struggling with those questions, especially if they’re facing tough money issues. But it’s an important first step that, coupled with prayerful reflection and practical financial information and planning, will start people on the path of faithful stewardship.