Note: The money in the featured image for this article isn’t real and I don’t believe you should burn money. But it’s a pretty cool picture.
When COVID-19 first hit, we “lost” $5,000 in our retirement portfolio overnight. And my first thought was, wow, this is crazy; it could be the start of a recession; I’ve never truly got to see what a recession looks like; this is pretty interesting; I can’t wait to see it play out!
A recession is, by no means, awesome. I get that. But my interest in the economics behind everything trumped my interest in our actual money.
For me, money is a game. It’s not a game to play irresponsibly, but I know it’s all God’s money anyway, so I don’t worry about it. As long as I’m making the wisest decisions I can calculate with my money, I see it as a game, as far as whether I’ll receive a good return or not.
I didn’t used to view money this way. It used to stress me out, because I didn’t understand it. The more I understand money and economics, and the more money I have, the more I realize how unimportant money is in the grand scheme.
Before I go on, let me explain how I started trusting and stopping worrying…
A Supernatural Tithing Journey
I haven’t witnessed many miracles in my life, and I feel like that’s a normal thing to be able to say. But when it comes to finances, I’ve seen some pretty crazy things — crazy-awesome things!
It all started when I first had the revelation to start tithing. It hit me hard. I told my wife, and she said she had been waiting on me to have that revelation. Fair enough.
This was back when I believed in the whole 10% commandment thing. As a New Testament Christian, I have a different view of giving now, but I still believe 10% is a good starting point.
Back to my story…
I started tithing 10% (note: tithing, by definition, means 10% — “a tenth”).
We were barely getting by on 100% of our income, so the idea of getting by on 90% was troublesome, but I trusted God, against how I felt about it.
About two weeks into our tithing journey, a man approached me in an Arby’s.
He was a truck driver, and he didn’t typically take the route that went through our town. But he was also a man of God and he felt God telling him to take this route, and to stop at that Arby’s… and to come up to me.
I didn’t know this man. He didn’t know me.
We were just two Christians meeting through God’s Will.
He handed me a hundred-dollar bill and said, “God told me to let you know everything is going to be ok.”
So that’s weird, right? I was worried about giving, and God shows up to slap me in the face and tell me to calm down. I was pretty amazed by it.
God continued to show up in our finances, and he continues to this day.
But that’s not the only time something like that happened in our life…
Giving With an Extra Zero
God’s Divine Providence continued to follow us as we moved to another state, years later.
We found a great church, in an old downtown building.
A couple years in, the church started a building fund to build a new church, which would at least triple its capacity. Our church was outgrowing the downtown location quickly.
During a morning service, the pastor explained the new building plans, and the new building fund.
I immediately had an idea of how much we should give. It popped into my head. It was a large amount. It would be a sacrifice, but it was easily doable.
When I locked eyes with my wife in the parking lot, after church, I could tell she had an amount in mind too. I figured it may be the same amount I thought of. I thought that would be pretty cool…
But her amount had another zero on the end of it. Talk about a sacrifice.
We had been saving for a new-to-us vehicle, and giving this amount would entirely deplete that fund.
It only took me a few minutes to come into agreement. Remember, I don’t really care about money, and if it’s going towards the right cause, it’s a no-brainer for me.
We gave the money and that was that. Until the craziest things started happening…
Give and You Shall Receive: True Story
Within the first week after we wrote the check for the church’s building fund, an anonymous stranger paid for our food at a restaurant.
Two days later, our neighbors knocked on the door with two ice chests full of food. They were moving and knew we had a large family, so they gave us all their food.
The following week, another unknown someone paid for another restaurant meal.
That same week, on the military base we lived on, they had an “Enlisted Appreciation Night.” It was a night of food and fun, and raffles. I won a TV. We didn’t need a new TV, so I tracked down a young airman who had won the deep freezer full of meat (yeah, that was a prize). He didn’t have room for the freezer, and he didn’t know how to cook. But he did want a large, flat-screen TV. So we now had a freezer full of meat.
This was all within a few weeks after we wrote that check. It continued on for some time, and actually led us to our first 30-Day No-Spend Challenge, which turned into several months. Time after time, God would show up and bless us in a way we couldn’t have predicted.
It’s not about whether or not we got back the full amount we gave. It was about God showing up, and telling us he is taking care of us. That solidified my view of money.
Why I Don’t Care About Money
To say, “I don’t care about money,” sounds super irresponsible. It sounds ignorant, and possibly pretentious or arrogant. But I really don’t believe it is.
You may be thinking, you’d see how much you didn’t care about money if you lost everything and your family was homeless. To that I would say, first off, calm down, why are you so angry? And second, I truly believe it all belongs to God. If that evil wished upon us actually happened, we’d be taken care of.
It’s pretty easy to reason wealth. I believe the more we have, the more good we can do. But it’s easy to reason your way into have millions and giving hundreds. It’s a slippery slope, and a dangerous game for the heart.
I honestly don’t care about money. When I saw my portfolio drop earlier this year, my first thought was about how cool it would be to get to see some things happen in the financial markets that I’ve never seen before. It was interesting. I’m interested in economics, and especially interested in the behavioral psychology behind financial decisions (that’s the main reason I’m a financial coach — to help with those decisions), but I couldn’t care less about the money in my bank account.
I believe in the importance of being a good steward. That’s clearly laid out in the Bible.
If you were to say, “oh, you don’t care about money, then give it all to me,” I probably wouldn’t. But I might. I make decisions based on whether or not I’m being a good steward of the money, and if I felt like giving you the money was the best use of it, I’d do it.
But, let’s be real, I doubt that’s the case. Unless the money in your bank account is going directly to providing clean water for families who need it or something like that. Giving all your money to someone who asks for all your money is rarely the best decision, because the kind of person who would ask for all of your money isn’t likely to use it responsibly. Unless, of course, you’re being held at gunpoint and asked for all your money. At that point, be generous. Go ahead.
The point is, money isn’t that important, and I think we should raise our children to be good stewards of their money and possessions.
We should raise our kids to be generous givers who understand that money is a tool, and it’s a tool to be used with caution and respect, but not fear and greed.
Money isn’t intrinsically valuable, but you can provide much value with it.
We should all be trying to give as generously and live as financially responsibly as we can, but we shouldn’t focus on chasing money or getting rich. Money isn’t that important.
That’s all I’m saying.