This week I'm sharing something different. What you'll see below is a post that I wrote for the Center for Stewardship Leaders' weekly newsletter. As some of you may know, I had the pleasure of working for this Center for three and a half years while I was a student, and later a staff member, at Luther Seminary. I learned the most about money and how to connect it to your values while I was at seminary. It was a pleasure to revisit that time of my life and share the story of this blog's evolution with that audience. I hope that you will enjoy this article, too!
Stewardship changed my life. It wasn’t the offering plates, the pledge cards, or even a narrative budget that did the trick for me. Instead, it was hearing that God is the owner of everything and we each have the joy and privilege to wisely manage what God has graciously placed into our care. Through stewardship we can put our faith into action by living out our love of God and neighbor with all that we have and all that we are.
I came to Luther Seminary not knowing anything about stewardship. By my third week on campus, I found myself working as the student assistant at the Center for Stewardship Leaders and eager to learn as much as I could. Around this same time, I had my first meeting with a financial coach. Right away, she helped me put stewardship into action in my money life. Together, we created my first budget so I could learn how to spend, save, and share with more intention. She showed me how saving little by little can really add up over time. She reminded me that saving for the future – or even spending money on an evening out with friends – is not selfish, it is a way to care for myself and others. She brought a sense of balance to my life with money and taught me foundational money habits that I still continue today. Through my relationship with her, I began to see my money as a tool to live out God’s call in the world every day, not just on Sunday mornings.
Out of this transformative experience with my financial coach, I developed an interest in personal finance. I started my first blog, frugal community, to share tips and tricks that my coach had taught me. After I left Luther Seminary, I continued to share my own experience of living frugally through a new blog, Classy Frugalist, which I continued for nearly two years. I’m proud to say that my Classy Frugalist blog is back with a renewed sense of mission. The goal of this blog is to help people of all ages to connect their money and their values to create a more fulfilling life.
One of my biggest frustrations with the financial industry is their penchant for one-size-fits all advice that doesn’t take into account who you are, what you care most about, or the other responsibilities on your plate. So often stewardship ministries fall into the same trap. We ask people to give to the mission and ministry of the church without taking into account that people have different financial barriers, capacities, and passions for giving. We focus stewardship so much on the offering plate that we neglect how people can and should live out God’s call with all of their money.
That’s where my blog comes in. I challenge people to step back before they step forward. Ask yourself what do you care about, what do you have to work with financially, and where are you going? What does a fulfilling life look like to you, how does your faith inform that, and what small steps can you take each day to make that life possible for yourself and others? I help people use their money in a more intentional way.
I realize that stewardship is about so much more than money. I hope that your congregation is tending to these many other facets of stewardship as well. But, as you look for ways to help your congregation members think more practically and holistically about how their life with money is shaped and impacted by their faith and values, I hope that you will find my blog to be a helpful resource. Let’s help people use their money to intentionally live out their faith and values in the world every day.
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