We don't usually think of Lent as a time to focus on finances. But what better time to look for spiritual support or guidance for this aspect of your leadership? If we can act on our spiritual principles rather than out of fear and anxiety, we will be able to make different financial decisions. If we seek to be thoughtful and not reactive, we will make different decisions. If we are able, out of spiritual power, to stick to our plan in the face of the reactivity of others, our churches will be healthier and more resilient places.
One pastor decided to go back to a basic daily prayer life at a time of financial crisis in the church. He found that this alone helped him to relate differently to the church finances. He simply went to the worship space every morning and sat there for five minutes. It wasn't much, he knew, but he had spent so many years grinding away at his ministry, especially the financial and administrative side, without any kind of spiritual support. He intentionally prayed about the church's finances and asked for the ability to let go. He noticed a small change almost immediately, and over time, he found that he was able to be quite different in church finance meetings. He began by saying, "I'd like us to begin this meeting with a time of prayer." The hard-headed business people looked at him with a bit of a shock the first time. He made a little joke of it, "I'm the minister, after all; I decided it was my job to make us do this." They chuckled, and then they went along with it. He found that he was more grounded in those meetings. There were still sharp disagreements. People still looked to him as the savior. But he was more able to let go and realized that the people had to save their own church if it was going to be saved.
Letting go of ultimate responsibility for the financial life of the churches we lead is a deeply spiritual matter. We can't delegate leadership, but we can delegate anxiety: downward to those we lead and upward to God. That doesn't mean we don't have work to do or
that we have no responsibilities, of course. But it positions us differently in relationship to the challenges. There's a time just to go play golf or go to the movies or get ice cream, and simply let go. Then when we come back to work on the challenges of the ministry, including the finances, we'll be more energetic and resourceful. We'll be better able to hear the good ideas of others and respond.
Here are some questions to consider as you engage spiritually with money matters, personally and at church, through Lent and beyond:
How have you experienced God's abundance and provision?
What causes you to be distracted by anxieties about scarcity?
How can you incorporate your money life into your prayer life?
How can you bring your spiritual leadership at church into the area of money?
For whom do you need to pray about money: people in your church who don't have enough? Or too much?
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