I've been writing on the value of time, energy and financial resources in the last few entries. So, how does this translate into a practical model for my personal daily investment of resources? First, remember that our goal as followers of Jesus is to use all our resources for His glory – never just a tithe and never divided into a sacred vs. secular dichotomy. As spiritual beings, everything we do (or don't do) has a spiritual facet or consequence. So, we need to take time to evaluate as a family what God is calling us to do with each of our resources. There are many ways to do this but each family needs to find a focus for ministry that fits with the talents, interests and convictions of each family member. If this is done well, each family member will be able to follow God's calling while being part of a team that is working together to achieve something significant in the Kingdom of God. In this way the education of the children, the jobs of the parents, the household responsibilities, the activities of choice and the use of time and money for the whole family revolves around a common purpose.
Though each family's situation is different, I would like to propose a possible distribution of resources using a drawing and then an explanation.
The inverted triangle shows the correlation between the level of importance a particular item has and the amount of resources that are allocated to it as a result. Some explanation may be required for my categories.
- Family always includes one's self and the other people that you are directly responsible for or to. Obviously, if you are a single adult you have less responsibilities in this area, giving you more time for other things and maybe less money to work with. Consideration must also be taken for older families or wealthy families which may have either more time or more money. My model may be most applicable to a husband and wife with a few children at home and a modest income of less than $60,000 per year. Unfortunately, many people have gotten into debt and this eats up income faster than anything else, forcing the family to focus nearly 100% of their financial resources on themselves. This, along with a lack of personal vision for ministry, has hindered the growth of the church, world evangelization and help to the needy in our modern era. Just when both time and money are more 'disposable', we have tied up nearly all our resources in paying off debt.
- I have combined the church and community into one category because the church should be heavily invested in the well being of its community, meeting its spiritual and physical needs. As it preaches the Word of God and testifies to the power of God to change lives, it should draw everyone in because of the daily demonstration of the love of God for everyone within reach, helping, healing, forgiving, teaching, feeding and caring for individuals.
- Focus ministries are those people and programs which most embody your family's personal ministry vision. If your primary concern is orphans, you might adopt children, help others adopt children, volunteer at an orphanage and give to an orphanage in another part of the world.
- World evangelization is probably the most important thing we can ever do, but this category refers to work beyond the walls of our house and the reach of our local church. We are to be involved in the Great Commission which calls for our prayers and gifts so that people of other languages, cultures and even future generations can understand the Good News of Jesus Christ.
- Our government as well as other charities take responsibility to care for extreme needs and disaster victims at times. Taxes also provide aid, protection and infrastructure beneficial to our families and communities. These may be worthy causes, though they are mismanaged and often unjust in their allocation. I believe that except in extreme cases, the needs of a modern community can and should be met by the families and churches of that community, not by an impersonal and wasteful government hundreds or thousands of miles away.
So, our own family's current objective is to live on a reasonable amount necessary for our personal needs and completely avoid debt so that we can invest our remaining resources in the ministries and people that are of value to us (i.e. Christian education, multi-cultural youth ministry, leadership training and support).