Welcome to 2023! At the beginning of this new year, I have an odd question for you. Financially speaking, do you know who you are?
Just go with me on this. I realize that most people probably haven’t even thought about their financial identity. Even for those who have, what in the world does it have to do with finding some financial breathing room, getting out of debt, or investing more successfully?
In short, it has everything to do with all of that and so much more.
As James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, puts it, “True behavior change is identity change.” And, “The most effective way to change your habits is to focus not on what you want to achieve, but on who you wish to become.”
Since you’re reading this blog, I assume you are a person of faith. And yet, that’s no guarantee that you understand your biblical financial identity.
If we don’t understand who we were made to be, or if we haven’t fully embraced it, that leaves us vulnerable to our culture’s point of view. And in countless ways, both subtle and overt, our culture tells us we are “consumers.”
What’s in a word?
That may sound harmless, but have you ever looked up what it means to be a “consumer”? To consume is to use up, destroy, or spend wastefully.
But it’s worse than that. You see, “consumer” is more than a word; it’s a worldview.
If I’m a consumer, life is all about me—my pleasure, my comfort, my happiness.
If I’m a consumer, happiness is found in money and what it can buy.
And if I’m a consumer, life is a competition to have more.
I’m not saying we overtly, consciously arrange our lives this way, but this is the direction the culture pulls us in, and if we’re not intentional, our lives can start to look a lot like that.
A consumer is the polar opposite of who God made us to be and what he made us to be about.
The Bible doesn’t say life is all about us; it says life is about God (Matthew 22:36-38).
The Bible doesn’t teach us to love money and things; it teaches us to love people (Matthew 22:39).
And the Bible doesn’t say life is found in competition; it says life is found in contribution (Ephesians 2:10).
Those are the three overarching purposes of our lives: To love God, love people, and make a difference with our lives. That means those are the three overarching purposes of money. Orienting our use of money around those purposes will lead to the most successful, satisfying experience with money.
Remembering who you are
What’s the word for such a person? Typically, we hear the term, “steward.” While that’s accurate, let me ask you: Does it motivate you? Are you excited about being a steward? If so, that’s great. However, it’s been my experience that some people carry that identity as a heavy burden. It’s as if God has said to them, “Here’s some of my stuff. Not don’t lose or break any of it.”
But that isn’t at all God’s message to us. To the two servants depicted in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) who made something more of what was entrusted to them, God not only said, “Well done.” He also then entrusted them with more to manage. With all that He entrusts to us, we’re encouraged to build our lives wisely.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” – Matthew 7:24-27
You were designed to be a wise builder. The “rock” is God’s word. Build your life, financially and otherwise, on a foundation of God’s word and it will stand strong. The “sand” is the shifting fads and philosophies of our consumer culture. Build your life on sand and it will fall.
Anything less is settling for too little
Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). The New Living Bible translates this as, “My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.”
Our role is to take all that has been entrusted to us and build—a thriving relationship with God, loving relationships with others, and lives of meaningful contribution.
This blog is all about the financial implications of that—exploring what it looks like to manage money with those goals in mind and to experience “life in all its fullness.”
If that’s what you’re after, I’d like to ask two things of you. First, participate in this blog by leaving comments, sharing your experience, and asking questions. And second, invite others to come along. Tell others about this blog by sending them a link and encouraging them to subscribe.
With God’s Word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, far more of us should have a better relationship with money. It’s possible, it’s available. Let’s take the next steps into the new year together, and let’s bring some friends along for the journey.
Take it to heart: “Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them.” – Matthew 25:19
Take action: One day, the Master really will return. One habit that will help ensure that we will be found faithful is to ask these questions as we consider various financial decisions: What would a manager of God’s resources—a wise builder—do in this situation? And will this choice help me love God, love people, and make a difference with my life, or could it hinder any of that?
Read more: An Identity Theft Like No Other
Good morning Matt, Happy New Year to you as well. Steward and stewardship is worthy title to identify as as and life goal to achieve. Worthy ministries that I can plant seed , invest in , is the on going challenge I face every new year. Hoping you can provide some guidance to that task to make a wise decision towards that goal. In Christ, Jay
Hello, Jay – Yes, I agree with your points about steward/stewardship. Absolutely right and worthy title and life goal. My only point was that people sometimes misunderstand what those terms mean, which is why “wise builder” sometimes resonates more. As for worthy ministries to invest in, I always encourage people to start with their local church and then give elsewhere as you’re led. If you’re looking for stewardship-related ministries to invest in, Good Sense, Crown, Compass, and Eternal Perspective Ministries would be at the top of my list.
Love your thoughts… thanks for sharing 🙂 Happy New Year
Thank you, Kathy. Happy New Year to you as well!
Happy New Year!
Thanks for reminding James Clear’s insight.
“True behavior change is identity change.” And, “The most effective way to change your habits is to focus not on what you want to achieve, but on who you wish to become.”
Happy New Year to you as well!
For anyone trying to make a change, Clear’s book, Atomic Habits, should be required reading. It’s really good.