Financial well-being needs to be built around your faith, goals, and values.
In the book of Genesis, we find that Pharaoh has had two dreams that he cannot understand. One is of seven sleek and fat cows being eaten by seven ugly and thin cows. The other is of seven ears of grain, plumb and good, consumed by seven thin and blighted ears. Joseph was able to interpret both dreams as one and the same. There were to be seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine in the land of Egypt.
Joseph advised the Pharaoh as such: “Now therefore let Pharaoh select a man who is discerning and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh proceed to appoint overseers over the land, and take one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt during the seven plenteous years. Let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming, and lay up grain under the authority of Pharaoh for food in the cities, and let them keep it. That food shall be a reserve for the land against the seven years of famine that are to befall the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish through the famine (Genesis 41: 33-36).
Things unfolded as Joseph predicted. And because the Pharaoh heeded Joseph’s words, when the famine struck, Egypt was prepared.
Famine and loss is not isolated to biblical times; there are instances in modern times when resources have been lost due to circumstances beyond our control. On September 29, 2008, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 777.68 points and many people lost their life savings in the process. As responsible stewards of our lives, the lives of our loved ones and our beloved communities, particularly our churches, we too are called to prepare for a time of need.
Comprehensive financial planning gives us the means to meet this objective. It is a way of setting aside and giving out of our abundance today so that in the future we will have the resources needed to continue to thrive.
We are required to “set apart a tithe of all the yield of your seed that is brought in yearly from the field” (Deuteronomy 14:22). And we are taught that “all shall give as they are able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you” (Deuteronomy 16:17). A comprehensive financial plan built around our values helps us respond faithfully to these commands, as well as protect our assets in times of loss.
While comprehensive financial planning may seem ambiguous, it can be simply defined. Comprehensive financial planning is a process. It is holistic. It considers the entirety of our financial lives. This includes our assets, our liabilities, our income, and our taxes. It presents a strategy for the accumulation, maintenance, and eventual distribution of all of our resources.
A comprehensive financial plan is not only built around our goals, but also around our core values. What matters most to us in our lives? How do our financial resources relate to that? What should our financial resources help us to accomplish and accomplish for others?
When looking at the structure of our financial lives in this way, we are better positioned to do our part to “honor the Lord with (our) substance and with the first fruit of all (our) produce” (Proverbs 3:9).
Think of a comprehensive financial plan as a compass. The plan provides not only direction, but also an integrated strategy to try and better our overall financial lives over time. As the years go by, this approach may do more than “make money” for us. It can help us provide for the Kingdom of God.