Ask Chuck: Stewardship and Living Beneath Your Means
I’m inspired when I meet people who have the capacity to live “high on the hog” but choose to live surprisingly simple lives. Many young people in my church are carrying student loans, while buying new cars, and more house than they need. How are they ever going to get ahead and become productive stewards for the Kingdom?
Concerned about the Next Generation
Let’s shift the focus of your question off of the next generation and deal with your concern through a much broader lens. ALL people need to learn to become productive stewards for God’s kingdom. The Bible makes it clear that no one is exempt from responsibility to be faithful with what God has provided, whether it is a lot or a very little.
One of the most important things all of us need to know is how to spend less than we earn. Credit has become easily available and an assumed part of life. Many people, young and old alike, often don’t understand the benefits of hard work and of putting their proceeds to work for them. They are often living in ignorance of Scripture, too busy working to slow down to think and plan. Others are simply caught up the trap of trying to find peace and joy through possessions.
Man is meant to work and to glorify God in his efforts. Joy in our labor grants deep satisfaction, a financial reward, and the means to bless others. Couple that with wise stewardship and it has deep, eternal impact. We need to be trained to know and apply God’s Word and have the inspiration of great examples to follow.
Although I don’t know them personally, I recently read of two men who turned their early work efforts into major companies by living modestly and keeping their tastes simple. They are fulfilled in their work and give generously.
Jim Pattison, a Canadian self-made billionaire, operates his C$10 billion empire in 85 countries. At the age of 90, Pattison currently oversees a string of John Deere equipment dealerships. He drives his pick-up across the Canadian prairie to drop in on different holdings, keeping a sleeping bag and pillow in the back seat in case he can’t find a motel.
Born during the Great Depression, he wore hand-me-downs and held many different jobs. In 1961, he purchased a Pontiac Buick dealership with a C$40,000 Royal Bank of Canada loan that exceeded the branch’s lending limit fivefold. He still has the handwritten financial statements from that first year and claims his favorite job was selling used cars.
Extremely private, he intentionally avoids email and rarely checks his cell phone. He gives his managers lots of freedom but demands results. Pattison is known for his deceptively thrifty nature, modest lifestyle, fondness of cheap meals at McDonald’s, and off-the-rack clothes. When asked if he ever takes vacations, he remarked, “Well I get 365 days. If you like your work, it’s not work.” Pattison is often dubbed Canada’s Warren Buffett.
Warren Buffett, worth over $80 billion, lives in the same house he bought in 1958 for $31,500. When his first child was born, he converted a dresser drawer into a sleeping space and borrowed a crib for the second. This was the humble mindset for the man who built Berkshire Hathaway.
Buffett earned money different ways when young, started a pinball machine business with a buddy in high school, sold it and started another. Along the way, he learned how to make money and save it.
Buffett has seen a lot of people fail “because of liquor and leverage.” He advises to only borrow what you need at a low, fixed rate then pay it off as soon as you can.
Buffett doesn’t describe himself as frugal. He buys cars at reduced prices and drives them a long time. He enjoys hamburgers, ice cream and Coke and has been known to use coupons at McDonalds. He refuses to splurge on wallets or designer suits. Even his hobbies are inexpensive – reading, playing bridge, and strumming his ukulele.
Financial Tips to Glean from Pattison and Buffett
- Start learning as a young person to become more financially-conscious
- Don’t waste money on depreciating assets and entertainment
- Live simply, minimize spending, maximize saving and investing
- Drive your car as long as possible
- Pick inexpensive hobbies
- Buy less home than you can afford
Biblical Stewardship Principles
Work as unto the Lord
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24)
Guard Your Heart
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)
Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7) As Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
How to Begin
- Know where your money goes. Use our Spending Tracker or apps like Mint or Quicken.
- Use a budget and automate deposits.
- Earn as much as you can as soon as you can.
- Set saving and spending goals.
- Invest early to grow earnings.
- Sacrifice today for a prosperous tomorrow.
- Give generously with joy.
- Give thanks in all things.
- Choose your friends wisely – they influence you greatly.
More important than simply becoming better with your finances is to be sure your heart is faithful to serve God’s purposes. Biblical stewardship is not ordering your life in such a way that you can spend money however you want; Biblical stewardship is ordering your life in such a way that God can spend you however He wants.
Originally published on the Christian Post, January 18, 2019