Recently I enjoyed reading Ron Blue’s newest release, Never Enough. Ron has been an anchor voice in Christian financial stewardship for the past several decades. For me personally, the three founding voices of stewardship ministry have been Howard Dayton, Larry Burkett, and Ron Blue. Never Enough is a critical tool for pastors along with its accompanying curriculum, God Owns It All.
While financial money management is not personally dangerous or complicated, it is often an avoided discipline. Unfortunately, many individuals and couples only pursue obedient stewardship as a result of experiencing personal financial turmoil. I am a firm believer that every child and teenager needs personal money training from the first days of receiving consistent income whether that be chore money or their first job. When I served as a Stewardship Pastor in a local church, I gravitated towards certain approaches to stewardship content. While the market can be crowded and money management principles transfer across all curriculums, embracing an approach that matches church vision is critical.
Here are some reasons from Ron’s recent book that make me continue to be a fan of his work and have found it to be so unique in the space:
- True, Timeless, and Transcendent– This is the often repeated description of God’s word on finances. After over 40 years of personal financial advising, Ron has seen these characteristics surface in repeated fashion. God’s word regarding money is true, meaning that it works over and over again. God’s word is timeless, meaning it remains. His wisdom was good both for the time in which it was written and for today. Finally, it is transcendent, which means that it is reliable. Whether your personal finances are simplistic or complicated, God’s wisdom is trustworthy. Money management can be reduced to spreadsheets and envelopes or it can be released into the realm of biblical wisdom and passion. I always give priority to the latter, though I use spreadsheets and envelopes.
- Perspective– Losing perspective is very easy in life, especially when it comes to our finances. Whether we are comparing ourselves to others or feeling overwhelmed and insignificant, the wrong perspective is the wrong place to be. Ron encourages three key shifts. First, a perspective of discontent seeks to solve heart answers with material solutions. While a contented perspective believes that what I have right now is enough, God’s presence and power solve my heart issues. Second, God’s wisdom is eternal, supernatural, and available. When we shift our perspective from the wisdom of the world to God’s wisdom we can experience many fruits and rewards. Third, Jesus taught that this world would be full of many sorrows and troubles. A ‘here and now’ perspective limits our view, while a faith perspective expands our thoughts to the character and promises of God. Heart help is the first step in gaining true money help. Our money goes where our heart directs.
- Principles– The book then turns to what could be deemed traditional financial money management advice. However for Ron, it comes with powerful twists. For instance, Principle 1 could be stated as “Spend less than you earn” which would be true. Yet Ron draws you further by stating “Principle 1: Spend less than you earn because every success in your financial life depends on this habit.” Each principle begins with wisdom then concludes with a personal implication that grabs hold of your heart. There are five principles which would make great empowering points in any sermon on money. Here is a peak into my favorite, “Principle 3: Give generously because giving breaks the power of money.”
- A Pie– There is real communicative power in transferring the money conversation from a spreadsheet and envelopes to the simplicity of a pie. Every individual or family has one pie of money which is divided into only a few slices. Ron labels these slices as Live, Give, Owe, and Grow. When you see your money as a pie a few implications become intuitive. You quickly learn that if you spend more money on one slice of the pie it automatically makes the other slices smaller. Next, only having four slices makes the money conversation much easier to digest for people who aren’t math wizards. Finally, the pie automatically rewards you for living with financial wisdom today. For too many curriculums, that reward comes when you become debt-free. While being debt-free is amazing, God’s blessings and favor can be experienced every day with wisdom and obedience. Daily rewards are both empowering and encouraging. The pie keeps you in the game every day!
- Transformed– The goal in living God’s true, timeless, and transcendent wisdom regarding money, is not overflowing personal wealth. Rather it is seeing the fruit of spiritual transformation in your heart and the world. Money is a tool of transformation. This message of Ron’s is mission critical for the local church. Managing money God’s way releases his peace and plan in our lives. The goal is gospel transformation in us and through us. It can be pretty easy to find people in very stressful situations regarding money as well as those who take very little time to second guess their expenses because of a lack of financial pressure. Both extremes will always benefit from a new faith perspective while discovering a purpose for their money to create transformation.
Finally, I consider both Never Enough and God Owns It All as very grace-oriented works. There is so much shame and guilt when comes to the topic of money and the church. Ron’s works are powerful, amazing approaches that will add great value to both church discipleship strategies and mission advancement. Ron speaks like a pastor who is seeking to advance the mission. You will do well to pick up a copy and review it for yourself.