Your finances are important. They’re worthy of your studied attention. But not your worry, and certainly not your faith, hope, and love.
The bottom line, men, is this: you’re not supposed to live in fear of your financial future. I’m reminded of how Dr. Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, lived his life. He headed an organization with income of hundreds of millions of dollars annually. Yet he and his wife raised their personal support each year just like all Campus Crusade staff’a modest income by any measurement.
They didn’t own a car or real estate. When Dr. Bright won the million-dollar Templeton Award for Progress in Religion in 1996, he put the money toward developing a new ministry initiative. Like all Campus Crusade staff, he paid into a modest retirement fund. But he liquidated most of that to start a new training center in Moscow. He had no savings account and accepted no speaking fees. When he died in 2003, he left behind few worldly goods, yet God provided for him abundantly throughout his life.
Followers of Christ are called to a life of faith, not fear. That life of faith may look differently from one person to the next, but the lack of fear will look the same. It’ll be a combination of wisdom, diligence, and trust that does everything it can to live a responsible financial life while putting ultimate hope in Christ alone for the present and the future.
Men, establishing personal boundaries is imperative to your spiritual freedom and vitality. These boundaries should be intentional and thought out ahead of time; while in the midst of temptation is no time to attempt to put them in place. They should be determined by and measured against God’s word. And finally, boundaries should be appropriately and strategically customized to your unique life situation and struggles.
These are some general guidelines for thinking through how you create and apply boundaries. But what concrete expression might they take in your life? Perhaps a few examples would be helpful. Perhaps your boundaries may include:
‘Blocking the pay-per-view option at the hotel front desk.
‘Refusing to make low-blow putdowns during marital disagreements.
‘Saying ‘no’ when asked to do things on weekends that don’t involve the whole family.
‘Never being alone with a woman who isn’t your wife.
‘Turning the channel when there’s too much skin and too little clothing on TV ‘ even if it’s only a commercial.
‘Refusing to keep self-destructive secrets from your wife.
‘Never making a significant financial or family decision without first consulting your wife.
Guys, formulating and committing to personal boundaries forces you to take honest stock of your life both practically and spiritually. It means counting the cost of what it’ll take to build a solid spiritual life, and adjusting your expectations to match the reality of being God’s man.
Are you interested in an insight that will increase your skill in living? Here it is: The content of the mind creates the character of the man. Think about it. Men who devote the lion’s share of their mental energy to the next toy they’re going to buy are materialists. A guy who’s always maneuvering himself into opportunities to impress others can be classified as a narcissist. Men dwelling on their next orgasmic experience can be described as hedonists.
I could go on, but I think the picture is coming into focus. My point, men, is this: the Bible clearly teaches that you are what you think. In other words, a man will take on the identity that reflects the preoccupations of his thoughts.
Former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz once said that we are influenced by the books we read, the people we associate with, and the dreams we have. Coach Holtz puts this fact of life very aptly. And Scripture says it even better. Listen to Proverbs 27:19: ‘As water reflects your face, so your mind shows what kind of person you are.’
Men, beginning today, I encourage you to seek to be more aware of what you’re thinking about, and how those thoughts reflect where you are in your walk as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Take good and honest stock of the situation. Then make the adjustments necessary to develop godly character.