Read 1 Timothy 4:1-16
It is not enough that a teacher appears to know what he is talking about, is disciplined and moral, or says that he is speaking for God. If his words contradict the Bible, his teaching is false. Like Timothy, we must guard against any teaching that causes believers to dilute or reject any aspect of their faith. Such false teaching can be very direct or extremely subtle.
Satan deceives people by offering a clever imitation of the real thing. The false teachers gave stringent rules (such as forbidding people to marry or to eat certain foods). This made them appear self-disciplined and righteous. We must not be unduly impressed by a teacher’s style or credentials, we must look to his teaching about God the Father. His teachings about Christ show the source of his message.
We should ask for God’s blessing on his created gifts that give us pleasure and thank him for them. This doesn’t mean that we should abuse what God’s gift of good food has made (for example, gluttony abuses God’s gift of good food, lust abuses God’s gift of love, and murder abuses God’s gift of life). Instead of abusing, we should enjoy these gifts by using them to serve and honor God. Have you thanked God for the good gifts he has given? Are you using the gifts in ways pleasing to you and to God?
Are you in shape both physically and spiritually? In our society, much emphasis is placed on physical fitness, but spiritual health (godliness) is even more important. Our physical health is susceptible to disease and injury , but faith can sustain us through these tragedies. To train ourselves to be godly, we must develop our faith by using our God-given abilities in the service of the church. Are you developing your spiritual muscles?
Christ is the Savior for all, but his salvation becomes effective only for those who trust him, and make him Lord.
You have to earn the respect of your elders by setting an example in his speech, life, love, faith, and purity. Regardless of your age, God can use you. Live so others can see Christ in you.
There are rich rewards in studying the people, events, prophecies, and principles of the Bible. If you aspire to church leadership, seek the counsel of mature Christians who know you well and who will hold you accountable.
Highly skilled and talented athletes lose their abilities if their muscles aren’t toned by constant use, and we will lose our spiritual gifts if we don’t put them to work. Our talents are improved by exercise, but failing to use them causes them to waste away from lack of practice and nourishment.
We should be on guard against those who would persuade us that how we live is more important than what we believe. We should persevere in both.
False teachers have always blemished the church. The false teachers in the Ephesian church did not believe Jesus was really human. They contradicted Scripture while appearing to be self-disciplined and morally righteous.
Christian leaders must be disciplined. They must guard their motives, be faithful to God and his Word, and live commendable lives. A false teacher can easily be detected if the teacher’s message differs from the Bible’s truth.
For you to rest that is, to live in total acceptance of God’s way – demands quiet….
To rest in God permanently means to hand over each activity, each situation of your life, to Him and to learn the habit of trusting Him to work for you.
We don’t naturally rest. Naturally we are stewers, tinkers, and fussers….
Have you too much to do? Are you pushed, rushed, harried?
Said George Fox long ago, “Come out of the bustlings you that are bustling.”
To guard your inner life, you must guard your outer life. How’s your pace? Are you too busy?…
Does your pace allow you to keep in touch with yourself – with your inner needs and feelings and longings? Does it allow you time to think, plan, make changes? Does it allow you time to observe carefully the dear ones around you and care for their needs – physical and emotional? Do you have time to really live?…
Asian theologian Kosuke Koyama says that in human affairs God moves at something like three miles an hour, the pace at which a person walks, not runs! Are you synchronized to your world, maybe even to your Christian world, but out of sync with God?…
You will change when your inner life changes. But I just said your inner life is affected by your outer life! Then is the whole thing a vicious circle that can’t be stopped?
No, the change begins with a decision. Your heart is your headquarters. Even as you read this, make the decision, by a conscious act of your will, that you will learn to rest in God both in your inner life and your outer life. Once the decision is made – and you implement it – gradually, gradually over the weeks or years, the changes will come. Your heart will start listening to a different pulse deep within you, and with joy you’ll begin to match your steps to that lovely, restful beat.
(From Disciplines of the Heart by Anne Ortlund)
Are you satisfied with God’s plans for you? Are you discontent because you are too young or too old? Impatient because you are not advancing as high as you would like? Frustrated with your restrictions? Be content where God has placed you. live your life as an example to others. Speak boldly of what Christ has done for you and what he can do for others.
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young. 1 Timothy 4:12
Children and young/old people are important in the Bible. Josiah became king of Israel when he was only eight years old. John the Baptist recognized his Savior while still in the womb of his mother Elizabeth. Abraham and Moses accomplished great things at advanced ages. And we take a special look at Timothy, a young pastor and coworker of St. Paul. Throughout the Bible we see that God uses people of all ages to accomplish His purposes and that everyone is important to Him.
Not only can God use young and old for His purposes, but He also tells us to become like little children. That doesn’t mean that God wants us to be childish! He wants us to have a childlike trust, a trust that iis not jaded and cynical from years of living in this world, but a trust that is simple, true, and genuine. A trust that looks to God as our Father, that trusts that His Word is true and knows that He gave His Son into death for our eternal salvation.
Timothy is an example of a young man who accomplished much in God’s kingdom. As we look to our Father with childlike faith, may He work through us in the same way and accomplish much for His kingdom!
Heavenly Father, give me faith to look to You with a childlike trust. Use me as You used Timothy for the building of Your kingdom.
Neglect not the gift that is in thee…. – 1 Timothy 4:14
When someone does something that makes a difference in your life, tell them.
Lord, help me to show my appreciation to those who make a difference in my life.
If you were to design a spiritual fitness training program comparable to the one you use to keep physically fit, what could it consist of? Why?
What “rites of passage” would you set up for a young Christian aspiring to lead?
What were you raised to believe a Christian can and cannot do? If a friend was being swayed by these teachings today, what would you say? Do?
1.Reflect upon the experience of studying Christian Training together.
2.Rejoice in what you have learned and experienced.
3.Come together for a “review” to the class.
4.Plan together for future use of what they have learned and experienced.
5.Review together the high points of the study.
6.Summarize for one another the most vital insights gained in class.
7.Experience Christian community with the group.
We look back at the past and see that we have had opportunities to learn, grow, and come to love you and others better. Thank you for the time we have shared. You will see to it that our experiences of this class will continue to live in our memories, in our skills, and in the relationships we have with others. Amen.
“The love of Money is the root of all evil.” Thus wrote the divinely inspired writer of Scripture many centuries ago. Although the Apostle Paul didn’t say so, it probably would have been equally true to add that “the abuse and mismanagement of money is at the root of all kinds of human problems.” Individual tension, family conflict, interpersonal strife, anger, frustration, driving ambition – at times all are related directly or indirectly to the pursuit and management of money.
The existence of money is not, in itself, a problem. We need money to trade and to meet individual needs. What is a problem is our attitude toward money, and our inefficiency in handling it wisely. The Christian trainer discovers this frequently. Sometimes finances are listed as the basic problem; sometimes financial struggles are presented as a part of some broader problem, such as anxiety, marital conflict, or adjusting to retirement.
The Bible and Finances
Unlike some of the other issues discussed in this book, the Bible says much about the subjects of money, possessions and management of finances. These biblical teachings can be summarized in the form of several principles.
1. Money and Finances Must be Viewed Realistically. Inn a well-known parable, Jesus once described man whose whole life was spent in accumulating wealth. Than the man died, unprepared to meet God, and left his precious possessions to someone else. Jesus called this man a fool. He was rich in worldly wealth but poor in his relationship to God.
In modern times there are many similar people whose lives are centered on money. When the money is gone their is no purpose in their lives.
According to the Scriptures, money is temporary. Ultimately it does not satisfy or bring happiness and stability. Little wonder that we are warned to “let your way of life be free from the love of money, being content with what you have…. If riches increase, do not set your heart upon them.” Once again we should emphasize that money is not condemned, but the love of money and dependence on riches are clearly wrong.
2. Money and Finances Are Provided by God. He supplies all of our needs, expects us to trust in him for our finances, and has shown that we need not be anxious or worried about having enough. There are people who squander their money through mismanagement and others confuse their real needs with their desired extras, but in terms of basics like food and clothing, God provides – often in great abundance.
Sometimes, however, he chooses to provide only the barest necessities. For reasons known only to him, he permits starving and hardship. Nevertheless he supplies what He thinks we need (not always what we want or think we need) when He feels we need it.
3. Money and Finances Can Be Harmful. The rich young ruler who came to Jesus asking about eternal life walked away grieving when he heard the command to give to the poor. Apparently a love of money prevented his spiritual growth. It is possible, as Jesus said on another occasion, to gain the whole world and lose one’s soul. Elsewhere he taught that it is not possible to love both God and money. Eventually we will come to the point of loving the one and hating the other. Which one do you hate?
A love of money, therefore, can prevent our turning to Christ and can stifle spiritual growth. Wealth can lead us to forget God, and sometimes a desire for things leads us to steal. Nowhere is this stated more clearly than in 1 Timothy 6:6-11, where the dangers of loving money are contrasted with an emphasis on godliness and a command to flee greedy attitudes:
But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang. But flee from these things, you man of God; and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.
The Bible also shows that greed and the overemphasis on money can also lead to interpersonal tension. A man once came to Jesus complaining about a family squabble and the Lord attributed this problem to greed. Then he warned that even when we have abundance, real life consists of more than possessions. The parable of the talents warns about a misuse of our possessions, and ends with the unwise slave being alienated from his colleagues.
4. Money and Finances Should Be Managed Wisely. To do this, our resources should be:
•Gained honestly. Trying to make money quickly and dishonestly is condemned in Proverbs (covered in depth in 3rd year, 3rd semester-Pastor’s training) written by Solomon – the richest man in the Bible.
•invested carefully. In the parable of the talents the wise slaves managed their money wisely. Clearly, money is to be used carefully and not hoarded.
•Spent realistically. This means keeping out of debt whenever possible. The Bible gives little sanction for credit-card buying. In Romans we are instructed to pay our taxes honestly and then to “owe nothing to any one.” When we borrow we are slaves to others and this can lead to a number of personal and interpersonal problems.
•Shared joyfully. God loves a cheerful giver and throughout the Bible there is emphasis on giving to God, to the poor, and to each other. There is a strange principle in the Scripture, one which seems to be at odds with the wisdom of the world: “when we give, we get” – material wealth and/or spiritual blessing. “Honor the Lord with your wealth,” we read in Proverbs 3:9, “so your barns will be filled with plenty.” The same principle was echoed by Paul, who thanked the Philippians for their generosity and then added that God would, in turn, supply all their needs “according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
When we ponder the above paragraphs it is abundantly clear that the Bible speaks again and again about money. Clearly this is an issue which must concern every Christian and which comes up repeatedly in training.
The Causes of Financial Problems
Among financial experts there is an old saying that if we are to manage our assets wisely, we must stop asking where the money went and start telling it where to go. Perhaps this is good advice, but many people wonk on a different principle. They live from payday to payday, financially flush at certain times in the month and “flat broke” at other times. Others manage to get along without great hardship, but saving seems impossible and there is barely enough without great hardship, but saving seems impossible and there is barely enough cash to meet family needs. It might be argued that the reason for this is simply too little income and too many expenses. But financial difficulties occur at all socioeconomic levels. For the wealthy, causes are similar to those problems facing less prosperous people.
1. Distorted Values. The way one handles money probably is an accurate indicator of one’s Each of us spends money or wants to spend it on things we consider important. Sometimes, however, what we consider important gets us into debt. Even Christians slip into accepting desires and values which are non-biblical and harmful.
(a) Materialism. The dictionary defines this as an attitude of “devotion to material things rather than to spiritual objects, needs and considerations.” Materialism is an attitude which leads us to pursue money, possessions, pleasure and the “good things in life.” It leads to impatience, overindulgence, and overspending on luxuries which are nice to have but not really needed. Such an attitude often forgets Jesus’ statement that our lives do not consist of the abundance of things which we possess.
Some of the great spiritual leaders in Bible times had considerable wealth. Abraham, Solomon and Job are examples. But these people never gave evidence of pursuing riches. They accepted their wealth as God-given and sought to know and serve him better. Surely today there are wealthy people who have a similar aattitude toward their possessions.
More common, perhaps, is an attitude which finds reasons for the accumulation of things. We think, for example, “As long as it doesn’t hurt us or control us, why not have the best?” “If we have more, we can give more to missions.” Such reasoning can be legitimate but often it is a veil to hide our materialism. Child, it should be remembered, told the rich young ruler to give to the poor, not to “change your attitude about what you’ve got.”
(b) Covetousness and Greed. These words imply a desire for more, even if others are made poorer as a result. Such attitudes are soundly condemned in Scripture but entrenched in our modern way of life.
Shortly after his move from Russia, Alexander Solzhenitsyn commented that “something which is incomprehensible to the human mind is the West’s fantastic greed for profit for gain which goes far beyond all reason, all limitations, good conscience.” This has led one commentator to conclude that covetousness and greed cause a variety of problems – inflation, unmanageable debts, and family arguments, to name a few. In Western countries we don’t worship idols of wood and stone, but many people, Christians included, seem to worship money and material things.
(c) A Desire to Get Rich Quickly. Perhaps people have always been impressed with the idea that one can earn a lot of money quickly and with little effort. The Scriptures warn against this, but the “itch for more” urges some people to invest hard-earned funds into programs which, more often than not, fail to deliver what is promised.
(d) Pride and Resentment. The church at Laodicea took the proud attitude that it was rich, wealthy and needing nothing. Even today such a superior attitude characterizes some wealthy and successful people who fail to realize that they are poor, needy, “wretched and miserable” if they ignore God, rely on their wealth for security and happiness, or fail to realize that their possessions and success have come as a gift from God.
In contrast to the proud wealthy, we find the resentful poor who are angry at God because of their lack of wealth and envious of those who have more.
All of these values suggest that the possession or non-possession of material things does less to cause financial problems than does the attitude that we have toward money and finances.
2. Unwise Financial Decisions. There are a variety of ways in which peoplewaste money which they cannot afford to lose. Unwise financial decisions include the following:
•(a) Impulse Buying. This involves seeing something we want and buying it without checking quality, prices, whether the purchase really is needed, or whether we can afford it.
•(b) Carelessness. Without the limiting influence of a budget, some people spend money carelessly and then are surprised when the wallet is empty or the checkbook is overdrawn. At times all of us dream of being rescued by someone who could pay all our bills. When people have inherited large sums of money, however, it has been found that most of the money is gone within a year and there is little to show for the inheritance. Apparently people who are careless with small sums of money are careless, as well, with large sums.
•(c) Speculation. There is an old adage which people often ignore: if you can’t afford to lose it, don’t speculate with it, no matter how bright the prospects. The Bible warns against speculation, and so does common sense, but many people lose money in an attempt to “get rich quick.”
•(d) Cosigning. This involves signing a statement to say that you promise to pay if someone else fails to remove a debt. This is often done for good motives – to help a friend get a loan – but when the friend doesn’t pay, the co-signer is left with the debt and the friendship disintegrates. Little wonder that the wise and wealthy King Solomon, writing under divine guidance, warned against cosigning.
•(e) Laziness. When people are too lazy to work or to manage a budget, financial problems almost always follow. Regretfully, in these days of government handouts to deserving people, the undeserving also come for money and thus are encouraged not to work. This creates a financial strain for everyone although often the lazy suffer the most.
•(f) Wasted Time. To a large extent we decide how to spend our time. For salaried employees this is less of a financial issue, but for the self-employed or people who are paid according to productivity, time equals money. When one is disorganized, undisciplined, or inclined to waste time, there is a resulting loss of income.
•(g) Neglect of Property. When people fail to take care of property, there is faster deterioration, costly repairs, and the need to spend money which might have been used for something else.
•(h) Credit Buying. In this day of easy credit and the proliferation of credit cards, buying “on time” is one of the major causes of financial problems. It is easy for people to fall into the credit card trap. First, we purchase something we need and intend to pay for when the bill arrives at the end of the month. Then we see something we want, or a sale comes along, and we make one or two additional purchases on the assumption that we can pay on our bill is, say, $10, we rationalize that an additional purchase will only raise the payment a few dollars, so we buy more.
This is a process of slow financial self-strangulation. Using a credit card often doesn’t seem like spending money so we are tempted to buy more things than we might otherwise purchase. Impulse buying is encouraged, we are inclined to buy where we can charge (which may not be where the prices are lowest), and we end up paying a large finance charge which adds to the cost of the item. In summary credit-card buying becomes a license to spend money we don’t have and can’t spare for goods we don’t need.
All of this leads to increased debt. Besides being wrong and enslaving according to Scripture, the accumulation of debts is financially costly and psychologically binding. Caught in the credit card trap, it is hard to get out. The burden of using a limited salary to pay a high price for something that has been used already puts other stresses on the debtor. As the pressure builds so do family arguments and personal tensions. It doubtless is true that credit cards in our pockets can be time bombs to shatter peace, happiness and mental stability.
3. lack of a Budget. A budget is another term for a “spending plan.” When such a plan exists and is followed, there is a control on spending, less impulse buying, and fewer debts. When there is no financial plan there is no control on spending. Spending begins to exceed income and this leads either to a deficit at month’s end, or a turning to credit cards to make ends meet.
4. Lack of Giving. The Bible teaches that giving and receiving go together. Hoarding is wrong, and the person who refuses to give often runs into financial difficulties. In contrast, the person who gives receives from God in abundance.
Believers are to give in three areas: to God, to other believers and to the poor. Failure to do so is to court financial problems.
The Effects of Financial Problems
The previous paragraphs have mentioned several of the results which come with financial stress. These include:
•worry about one’s money or how to pay the bills (one national survey found that 70 percent of all worries concern money);
•family and marital problems which often rise or increase of financial pressures;
•loss of friends because we become greedy, envious, seek loans, or are embarrassed by debt; then at other times, old friends forsake or reject us if we have an increase of money or an increased debt.
•guilt, envy, jealousy, resentment, or pride, each of which is sinful, and each of which can be stimulated by finances;
•emotional emptiness and unhappiness, which come to those whose main interests in life is the accumulation of possessions; and
•spiritual deadness which follows when we get too concerned about money, have the wrong attitudes and violate biblical principles for handling finances.
Financial problems put us under stress and, as with other stresses, there can be physical illness, anxiety, discouragement, interpersonal tension and inefficiency as a result. At times there also can be uncontrolled, irresponsible spending especially if riches increase suddenly. At times there also is bankruptcy with the resulting psychological trauma.
Training and Financial Problems
Several helpful books on financial management have appeared within recent years. These can be loaned to trainees who often are able then to solve many of their own financial problems. Others need training, and with them there are several issues to consider as this training proceeds.
1. Help the Trainee Acknowledge the Problem and Determine to Solve It. It is difficult, if not impossible, to help a person work on a problem when that person fails to acknowledge that the problem exists. It is equally difficult to help someone who claims “it will never be different” and uses this as an excuse to do nothing.
people with financial problems often bring an additional problem of worry. They need to be urged to face the reality of their situation and encouraged emotionally when they do so. Point out that God supplies our needs and that it IS possible to get out of debt and to manage money efficiently. It should be emphasized, however, that the solution to financial problems depends less on the state of the economy than on the way individuals and families handle their financial resources. Trainees need to experience hope. While this may not eliminate the worry, it gives encouragement and can motivate the trainees to take action to work on their financial problems.
The realistic trainer will recognize, however, that for some there is no hope, because they don’t want to change or are unwilling to work on financial problems. Such people may have to experience financial disaster before they are motivated to work on the problem. And for some the motivation may never come.
2. With the Trainee, Seek Divine Guidance. In the midst of crises it is easy to be so distracted by circumstances that we take our eyes off God. Trainees should be reminded that God has abundant riches and he knows our needs. He has instructed us to cast our burdens and anxieties on him, and surely this includes financial burdens. If someone asks for divine help and expects it, then God will meet that person’s need. He will also help us to be content in any circumstance, including our financial state.
All of this implies that prayer should be an important starting point in financial training. Pray with the trainee, asking God to lead as the practical details of financial planning are discussed. Then encourage the trainee and his or her family to pray together about this as they work together onn their money problems.
3. Teach Biblical principles of Finance. People with financial problems are in a hurry to get some relief. Often they are not interested in sermons or in Christian education, but it is important, nevertheless, that they understand the biblical guidelines for managing money. These principles must guide the Christian lifestyle trainer and should be shared explicitly at various times as the training continues.
An earlier section in this lesson discussed the Bible and finances. In addition to the concepts presented earlier, trainees should be helped to see the following.
•(a) Everything Belongs to God. We are only stewards of God’s possessions. In the Psalm where God states “the world is Mine, and all it contains,” he also encourages people to “call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.” A first step in financial planning is to recognize that ownership of everything must be transferred to God, who is the rightful owner.
•(b) Stealing is Wrong. Although God ultimately owns everything, he allows each of us to use certain things he provides us for the ministry he gives us. To take these things from another is to steal from God and the ministry He gave them. In times of need it iss easy to “cut corners” on income tax, to “borrow” supplies that rightfully belong to our employer, or to get money in other ways. This is stealing and does not help with our financial probllems.
•(c) Coveting Is Wrong. Coveting, like stealing, is forbidden in the Ten Commandments. To covet is to want something which we see others enjoying. It implies a dissatisfaction with the possessions and opportunities which God has given. Regretfully, our entire economy seems geared to helping people violate this principle. We are encouraged to engage in extravagant and wasteful spending even if this creates personal financial crisis, harms our national economy, or hinders the economics of less developed nations. God can help us to be content with what we have and to avoid comparing ourselves with others who seem to have more.
In addition to coveting the goods of another it also is possible to have a clinging, covetous attitude to our own possessions. If we assume that everything comes from God and rightfully is his, then their is no need to cling tenaciously to our goods or to be excessively distraught when something is lost, stolen, or broken. This involves a responsible but realistic attitude toward our possessions.
•(d) Giving is Right. This is emphasized throughout the Bible. God expects us to give, even when we own little and have nothing to spare. Of course this does not mean that everything should be given away. In the Old Testament the people gave a portion of their possessions. We need a willingness to give, followed by acts of giving to God and to those in need.
•(e) Money Management Is Right. In the parable of the talents, there were differences in the amounts which each person possessed. Nevertheless, two people managed their money carefully while the third did not. It was the poor manager whom Jesus criticized. God expects us to be good stewards of what he has given. He demanded this of Adam and has expected i from people ever since.
4. Help Trainees Develop and Follow a Financial Plan. Without a blueprint for money management, it is largely impossible to control one’s finances. This financial plan involves a variety of elements which can be discussed in training. Notice that several of the following steps can be initiated in the training session, completed by the trainees at home, and discussed subsequently with the trainer.
(a) Get the Facts. This involves making a list on paper of one’s assets and liabilities. The Table below is an example of how this might be done. To get an accurate picture of the current financial situation is an important first step in solving financial problems. When one’s net worth is increasing every year the person is moving ahead financially. When the net worth is decreasing the person is declining financially.
Assets – Liabilities
Assets (what we own)
Checking Account $
Value of Car(s) $
Value of House $
Resale Value of Furnishings $
Cash Value of Insurance $
Liabilities (what we owe)
Unpaid Balance on Car $
Home Loan $
other Debts (List) $
Net Worth (difference between Assets and Liabilities) $
(b) Establish Goals. What are the trainee’s financial goals? Begin with some general goals – like “getting out of debt,” “be able to provide for the family,” “doing what we can to advance the cause of Christ,” “saving for the education of children and for retirement,” “having enough money to travel,” “owning a home,” and so on.
When these general goals have been written down, it is good to be more specific by listing long-range and short-term goals. What specifically does the trainee hope to have achieved in ten years, five years, and one year from now? Help trainees be realistic in terms of their education, present income and debts. A man who earns $9,000 annually but has a $4,000 debt cannot realistically expect that all debts will be gone within a year, but he can set a goal to have a portion of this debt gone within the next twelve months.
In setting goals remember the biblical teachings about finance. Our goals must fit within the scriptural guidelines. This means that we should seek God’s guidance, through prayer and Bible study, as we establish goals; determine to be honest and fair in all financial dealings including the payment of taxes; avoid selfish indulgence; show a concern for others including family, employees and/or employers, and the poor; avoid borrowing – except, perhaps, for major purchases such as a home or car (and on occasion, for a bill consolidation loan).
(c) Set Priorities. Few people can meet all of their financial goals immediately, so there must be decisions about what can be done now and what must wait until later. Tithing, paying off debts, and eliminating the misuse of credit cards must be high on the priority list.
One financial counselor has suggested that we distinguish between needs, wants and desires. Needs are the purchases necessary to provide food, housing, clothing, medical care, transportation and other basics. Wants involve choices about quality – whether to get a used or a new car, for example, or whether to eat hamburger or steak. Desires are choices made out of surplus funds after other expenses are met. To get around in our society most people need a car. A good used car would meet the need, a new car might be wanted, a new Cadillac may be desired. In establishing a financial plan and getting out of debt, needs must be met first; wants and desires can be met later. Each expenditure should be evaluated in terms of these categories.
In setting priorities remember, once again, that time management often is important financially. In many occupations, to waste time is to reduce one’s income.
(d) Set Up a Budget. A budget is a spending plan which enables us to manage and effectively control the expenditures of money. Such a budget includes keeping records which help us determine where the money is going. “By keeping good records, having a plan and being honest with oneself, a person won’t get into financial trouble,” writes one expert. “I seldom see financially successful people who don’t keep good records.”
It is not easy to develop and stay within the guidelines of a budget. It probably is true, however, that people who “cannot” keep within a budget really don’t want to take the effort to control their money carefully. Most people get along fine without budgeting, but in so doing they waste a lot of money which is spent more on their whims than on their priorities.
One plan for saving and spending has been called the 10 – 70 – 20 plan for budgeting. Each dollar is divided into five parts. Ten percent of one’s total income goes to God in tithe, a second portion goes to the government, then the remaining portion is “working income” which is divided three ways. Ten percent of this is saved, 70 percent is for living expenses, and 20 percent goes to pay past debts. When the debts are gone, the 20 percent can be used for making purchases on a cash basis.
The following table gives a sample budget worksheet which trainees could use (with modification for individual differences). This worksheet assumes the 10-70-20 plan and each month allows trainees to plan and evaluate how successful they have been in keeping within the budget.
Gross Income (before taxes) $
Item Amount Allocated Amount Spent Difference (+ or -)
1. Tithe (10%) $ $ $
2. Fixed Expenses
Total Tithe and Fixed Expenses $
Working Income-Deduct Total Tithe and Fixed Expenses from Gross Income $
3. Savings (10% of Working Income
4. Living Expenses (70% of Working Income)
Mortgage or Rent
Home Repairs, Upkeep, Furnishing
5. Debts (20% of Working Income)
Total Allocated (Total of 5 boxes in Amount Allocated
Difference (Balance or Amount Short)
Total Spent (Total of 5 boxes in Amount Spent
Difference (Balance or Amount Short)
Remember that budgets should be tools to help manage spending and not strait jackets to bind spenders. If a budget is unrealistic or if one’s financial status changes, then the budget should be altered accordingly. This should be done with care, however, and not in an attempt to cover up or justify reckless spending and deviations from the budget plan.
5. Conclusions. Trainers who are accustomed to more in-depth problems may feel that such detailed planning is beyond the scope of Christian lifestyle training. Such trainers may wish to refer their trainees to a banker, accountant or other financial counselor. Helping people manage their money and possessions, however, can be one of the most rewarding and visibly successful aspects of Christian lifestyle training. And a resolution of financial difficulties can have implications for a variety of other training problems.
Preventing Financial Problems
Most of the problems discussed in this course apply only to some people. Not everyone, for example, becomes alcoholic, is deeply depressed, or has marriage problems. But everyone handles money and the Christian lifestyle trainer has a responsibility to help people handle it better.
1. Teach Biblical Values Concerning Finances. This can be taught from the pulpit, in group meetings (including youth meetings), in Sunday school classes and in one-on-one conversations. Such instruction should:
•present teaching similar to that summarized in “The Bible and Finances” section of this lesson;
•encourage people to thank God for what they have, instead of making comparisons with others and lamenting their lacks and needs;
•warn people of the dangers of credit buying and encourage them to live within their means;
•emphasize the importance of saving and joyful giving.
2. Teach practical Guidelines for Managing Money. This involves showing people how to budget (including tithing and saving), encouraging them to do so, and urging them to share their experiences with other believers. It is exciting and encouraging to believers to see how God blesses when his guidelines are followed.
The Christian lifestyle trainer may not be an expert on insurance, banking procedures, the preparation of a will, or the best ways to save and invest money. Nevertheless, the trainer can stress the importance of each of these issues and point Christians either to books or to people who can give practical advice. Within the body of Christ there often are persons with business and financial expertise. These people can be invited to meet with individuals or groups to help with financial planning. This involves the body in practice – people sharing their knowledge and gifts to build up and encourage others.
3. Emphasize Finances in Premarital Training. When people get married they usually enter an entirely new financial picture. Two incomes often merge into one and there is potential for conflict over money. Premarital training can prevent such conflicts.
4. Raise the Issue of Finances Whenever There Is a Crisis or Life Change. Major changes in life, for example, starting college, changing jobs, moving, retirement, operations or other prolonged sickness and death in the family often bring financial struggles. If these financial issues can be raised and discussed informally, problems can often be faced and resolved before they become major difficulties.
Conclusions about Financial Problems
The Bible never condemns the possession of goods and money but it does speak against hoarding, coveting and money mismanagement. Satan has used financial pressures to enslave people in debt and worry and to turn them away both from God and from divine principles for money management. To help people get out of debt and into financial freedom can be a satisfying experience in training – an experience which can be even more fulfilling because in a practical way it helps people live more in accordance with the principles of Scripture.
In a basic sense, there is no way to review a course on any aspect of Quality of Life as though a formula had been devised which could assure success whatever happened or needs to happen. Troubles have a way of resolving themselves or emerging into new forms even more destructive than before. However desirable it might seem to be able to get every thing settled so that the trainees might live happily ever after, the fact is that life simply does not move that way.
What actually happens when a person is trained is that the person becomes able to cope with the variety of circumstances with which he has to strive, without being overwhelmed, or thwarted in his onword course. It is a truism that most problems of life are actually insoluble. This does not mean that certain adjustments cannot be made, it does mean that basically the resolution is in the person rather than in the situation. Years ago St. Paul put the matter this way. “I am able,” he said, “to meet any situation through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13. paraphrase).
The secret of success, therefore, lies not so much in changing circumstances as in a training process whereby the person is strengthened to deal with that which is part and parcel of his life. It is in this sense that training seeks to enable the individual to cope with life in all its complexities, recognizing that there is no way he can be spared the adversities and frustrations which are inevitable in the normal course of life. The essence of training, therefore, is the momentary lifting of the burden which is crushing the life out of the person and the making available of resources upon which he can draw, so that he may take up the load again with some prospect of success.
So it is that the trainer welcomes the varieties of skills which have bee developed through the tears for lightening the burden and making it possible for the person to reach their goal of satisfactorily completing God’s training program for them and graduating to their home and family in heaven.
Training happens in many arenas of action. You are equipped with the unique tools of Christian training anc increasingly aware of the nature of your calling. The unique vantage point you bring to the hurt and broken world makes you very important along with all other healers and helpers.
•You will feel a sense of inner warmth (and sometimes fear and trembling) when you are privileged to relate to people’s deep spiritual needs.
•You are free to go the extra mile with those who need you, enhanced by a healthy Christian perspective on servanthood.
•You will rejoice that the “cups of cold water” you give to others are accepted by God as Christian training.
•You will draw courage from the long line of tradition in which your training stands, realizing that you actively continue the work carried on by God’s people throughout the ages.
Success in Training
What is success in training? It is helping a person find the will of God for his life, providing the support which is necessary for that person to move toward God’s will, and then seeing the individual grow in his relationship with Christ. In the process, something of your life, your emotions, your intellect, your time, and your energies are invested in that person.
Success in training is seeing individuals whose lives were headed in the wrong direction make changes which give them a hope and a new future.
It is watching children grow up in a home which would have been destroyed had not God used you in some way to help a trainee realize how foolish it would have been to throw away a marriage for the thrill of a make-believe, illicit relationship.
It is watching individuals who could not function without the support of a vast rainbow of drugs stabilize their emotions, begin to grow emotionally and spiritually, and relate to life in a way they never have before.
Success in training is helping individuals rise to their full, God-given potential, not because you are so bright or clever, but because you learned the importance of letting the Holy Spirit chip away at the rough edges of the person whit whom you worked, allowing Christ to live in the life of your trainee.
Some things we must learn by experience, and every person who becomes proficient in training will have learned from his or her mistakes.
Success in training comes by persevering until a relationship has stabilized.
Breaking off training too soon can be very crushing to your trainee. The process of restoration may take time. No progress takes place in a straight line. People will make improvement, fail, try again, and fail again. Only when they stop trying do they quickly begin to slide downhill in the training process.
How do you handle failures? In just the same way you help a child learning to walk – you help pick up your trainee, get him walking again, and gradually turn loose. In helping a trainee gain strength and maturity to overcome persistent failures, you should take the person through this process:
•What was Your Response?
•What should have been your Response?
•How can You Rectify the Problem?
Re-establishing broken relationships is not a do-it-once-and-you’re-finished-with-that-for-life kind of thing. Continuing problems can be worked through with the same questions: What happened? How did you respond? How should you have responded? What do you need to do or say to correct the situation?
Be empathetic and warm in your relationship with the people you help.
There is a difference between empathy and sympathy! Empathy means “I care.” To a degree, You hurt with your trainee, but if your emotions carry you away so that you lose control, both of you will need help.
Dr. William Glasser, author of the book Reality Therapy, believes that if just one individual believes in an other person, that individual can be the anchor to reality which keeps the person from slipping over the precipice of irrationality. You as a trainer may be that anchor!
Earlier in this course, I encouraged you to pray as you train, asking the Lord to give you insight and wisdom as you work with your trainee. Praying with your trainee should be just as natural and relaxed as the conversation you have with him or her.
Prayer is a kind of spiritual therapy through which God forgives sin and the Holy Spirit cleanses a person’s conscience. It is a means of relieving tension which allows fruitful communication to follow. It is extremely difficult to tell the Lord how you feel about an issue, hold hands with the person with whom you are in conflict, and then hurl angry words at that person.
As a trainer-leader you need to pray for the person you are trying to help, asking God to undertake the healing and restoration of the one who has come to you. When I pray and ask God’s help, my expectancy is increased. Having asked Him to do something, I expect problems to be resolved.
The power of prayer in training has yet to be fully appreciated and practiced, but it is one of the greatest resources available to us.
Flow with the Spirit
Writing to the Galatians, Paul cataloged the acts of the earthly nature – the problems that bring many people to us – and then contrasted the fruit of the Spirit with these. he wrote, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:24, 25). The word Paul uses, translated “keep in step,” means “march” or “follow.” Yes, you can train in the Spirit as you pray, utilize the Word of God, and guide your training into the path of God’s will.
This, of course, means that you need to be filled with the Spirit, making Christ Lord of your life, allowing His Word to guide you in your personal life.
As David wrote long ago, “The Godly man is a good counselor because he is just and fair and knows right from wrong” (Ps. 37:30, 31). May God help you to be that person as you train others.
Integrating Theology and Training
In this Course the intent has been to take you beyond theorizing about theology. Christianity is, above all, practical. Its exercises, benefits, and demands begin not in the sweet by and by, but here and now, What I hope you have received from God through this course is confidence, inspiration, and excitement about your potential for unique and vital training as a Christian, with the insights of caring and theology wedded inside you.
may the peace and Joy of almighty God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit go with you.
Billy was thirty years old when he reached a crossroad in his life. His good friend and colleague, Charles Templeton, had abandoned many of the beliefs that he and Graham had formerly shared. Now Templeton ridiculed Graham for his faith. Although Graham was a successful college president and itinerant evangelist, the core of his life and ministry had been shaken. If those who had been closest to him were abandoning their fidelity to the Bible and its teachings, was he naive to continue trusting them as he had in his youth?
As that night wore on, my heart became heavily burdened. With the Los Angeles campaign galloping toward me, I had to have an answer. If I could not trust the Bible, I could not go on. I would have to quit the school presidency. i would have to leave pulpit evangelism. I was only thirty years of age. It was not too late to become a dairy farmer. But that night I believed with all my heart that the God who had saved my soul would never let go of me….
“O God! There are many things in this book I do not understand. There are many problems with it for which I have no solution. There are many seeming contradictions. There are some areas in it that do not seem to correlate with modern science. I can’t answer some of the philosophical and psychological questions Chuck and others are raising.” … At last the Holy Spirit freed me to say it. “Father, I am going to accept this as Thy Word – by faith! I am going to allow faith to go beyond my intellectual questions and doubts, and I will believe this to be Your inspired Word.” When I got up from my knees at Forest Home that August night, my eyes stung with tears. I sensed the presence and power of God as I had not sensed it in months. Not all my questions had been answered, but a major bridge had been crossed. In my heart and mind, I knew a spiritual battle in my soul had been fought and won.
It was the Los Angeles campaign shortly after this event that launched his career into international prominence. Before God elevated him into a prominent international figure, Graham yielded himself to God to a degree that many of his colleagues were unwilling to do. This deepened sense of yielding everything to the Lordship of Christ has been the turning point for many of history’s greatest Christian leaders. One of the most common factors in the successful Christian Leaders is their total submission to God.
Help me to see the beauty and wonder of this life you have given to me, O Lord. Open my eyes so that I might come to know the richness and fullness you intend my life to have. Grant me this, I pray. Amen.
1.How ready do you feel to go out and exercise uniquely Christian training and relating?
2.How might your training be different since you’ve read and studied this course?
3.What are some of the insights you have gained in studying Christian Training?
4.What is unique that we as Christian trainers bring to our hurt and broken world?
5.How can what you’ve learned be put to work to make your organization an even more distinctively Christian group of people.
6.How can you share with others the gifts you received in this study? Who are some people with whom you would like to share what you have received?
7.Evaluation: In one sentence, what have you learned from this class so far?
8.What distinctive gifts have you discovered in yourself during this study? What gifts can you name in others in your group?
9.What was the most special moment for you during this study?
10.What have you learned about yourself as a Christian and about your relationship with God during this class.
11.What have you learned or gained as a result of the Christian community we have shared?
12.12. How have you already used what you learned in these sessions? Describe in some details if you can.
13.How do you expect what you have learned to be most helpful in your everyday life?
may our God who is present with us now fill our lives with awareness of his care for us. May he continually bring to our remembrance the love, the fellowship, the training, and the growth we have shared together. May he fill our hearts with courage and joy so that we can go from this class willing and able to share our gift of giving distinctively Quality of Life to those we encounter. And may the continual presence of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be with us now and always. Amen.