The end of year brings budget and calendar planning here at Cornerstone. It’s the time of year when we reflect on the previous year and make our plans for the next. I have had the opportunity to serve on the budget team for the past few years.
At first blush, this type of task may seem purely administrative: estimate revenues, allocate expenses, and project net income. However, I’ve learned a few unexpected lessons along the way.
Budgets reveal our true priorities.
“Put your money where your mouth is.” This contemporary saying fits our budgeting whether it’s for a local church or our family. It’s easy to give lip service to the importance of discipleship, evangelism, or missions, but your spending provides a concrete view of what you value.
Don’t get me wrong, a dollar spent on a new coat of paint for the nursery is no more or less holy than a dollar spent on a foreign missionary, but it does show what you view as most important. As a church, do we value foreign missions more or less than local missions? As a family, do you value education more or less than retirement savings?
Do you value comfort more or less than sacrifice for the gospel? When the resources are limited, our spending reveals our priorities like a mirror reflects our image.
Budgets remind us of our finitude.
By nature, a budget is an admission of our limited resources. Our spending must be in line with our income, and our income is finite. On a deeper level, though, it’s a great reminder that our heavenly Father is the giver of all good things (dollars included). It can be tempting to wallow in the despair of what we could do if only we had more money, but, instead, we should realize that God has apportioned us our resources according to His perfect wisdom. We then must be good stewards of those resources whether great or small. We can be excited about what we have right been apportioned.
Budgets reveal our need for wisdom.
How do we accomplish our commission to “go and make disciples of all nations” when God has given us finite resources? Should the funds be spent on missions, books, staff, or facilities? It all depends. There are rarely clear right/wrong, faithful/sinful lines when it comes to budgeting. Before we despair though, we know that the same benevolent, wise Father that provided those resources is the same one that measures out wisdom. He “gives generously to all without reproach.” (James 1:5) We are quickly reminded that we need to pray; we need each other’s counsel; we need humility; we need our heavenly Father.
You may not be excited to open a spreadsheet and run sums and projections. I understand. You can’t escape the need to steward your resources though. Whether you have a lot or a little, you will be faced with limits and forced to prioritize. And, in the end, we all must give an account to the Lord regarding our stewardship of His resources.
The question is: Are you ready for the audit?
– Brian Triplett