Ten Principles For Handling Personal Finances and Ministry Finances

We will discuss ten key principles for the successful handling of personal and ministerial finances. Also our responsibilities as stewards over the Lord’s tithes, offerings, and alms.

So why is this so important to study and know? One of the most common ways satan causes ministers and believers to stumble is to entice them to mismanage their personal finances and the finances of their church or ministry. According to my study of the Bible, spirits of lack, poverty, and greed roam the earth putting husband against wife, children against parents, and even shepherds against their sheep. As a result, marriages fail, relationships crumble, and ministries are destroyed.

So, what is the Good News? It’s the fact that the greatest book ever written on stewardship is in your hands. It’s the Bible or the Word of God, this book provides us with a poignant five-thousand-year history of man’s struggles with stewardship and provides answers to every financial question you and I will ever encounter. There are over two thousand verses in Scripture, as well as two-thirds of the parables, which reveal lessons to us about finances and stewardship. They show us how to see the invisible and the impossible financially.

God uses the spiritual to teach us about the material and the supernatural to teach us about the natural. He looks deep into the hearts of men and knows, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt. 6:21 NIV). When we mismanage what the Lord has entrusted to us; then our work will also be in bondage. I’ve seen this happen when ministers, preachers, and believers never intended it to happen, but yet it did. Believe me, I’ve made the same mistakes myself.

I am sharing what I have learned, and am still learning the down-to-earth basics of Biblical stewardship and responsibilities for the work of the ministry and my personal finances before God. I will touch on ten principles I have used to help govern my personal finances and the finances of the ministry.

PRINCIPLE #1 – Start at the beginning of Financial Wisdom

 8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’  “In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me (Mal. 3:8-9 NIV).

In all of my research concerning finances within the church, only 32% of the pastors’ tithe. This is staggering, that’s less than two-thirds! Yet they require that their congregations give faithfully according to Malachi 3:8-9. I am a firm believer that whatever the head does the body will do also.

The very basic beginning of financial wisdom is when we get into the Spirit of Giving- with joy and expectation. We must teach and practice God’s giving and receiving principle – Seed-Faith. Better yet, practice Seed-Faith, and then teach it. One must lead by example- that is what Jesus did. If one does not continually plant the seeds of tithes, offerings, and the giving to the poor; they will never reap the miracle harvest that the Lord has intended for the lives of the believers and their ministries.

A rejected (or neglected) opportunity to sow seeds of faith is lost the opportunity to receive a miracle harvest, which includes a financial harvest. Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men gave  into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal, it shall be measured to you again (Luke 6:38).

We see from Abram’s example in Genesis 14:18-20 that the giving of the tithe is not an option. Rather it is the earthly manifestation of the seal of faith. God said, “the just shall live by Faith (Romans 1:17). God’s spiritual laws of sowing and reaping, of seedtime and harvest, of giving and receiving are all predicated on our faith.

PRINCIPLE #2- You are held to a higher standard by God and man

From everyone who has been given muchmuch will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with muchmuch more will be asked (Luke12:48b).

You must- you must- accept the fact that you will be held to a higher standard by both man and God. You must avoid at all costs financial dilemmas that others commonly experience (such as getting into deep debt and making unwise investment decisions).  I have seen ministers put under their congregations under heavy burdens financially. In Luke 16:1-13, Jesus makes it clear that our stewardship of money is related to the Lord’s trusting us with the “true riches” of spiritual things. If you mismanage what the Lord has entrusted to you, the ministry will lose its anointing; this is seen in First Samuel 15, which is appropriately entitled “The Lord Rejects Saul as King”.

In Leviticus 27:30, the Lord clearly tells us that the tithe is ” Holy to the Lord”  Is is imperative that every penny collected to be used for the purpose which it was intended. One must not take a collection for missions and then use it for some other purpose.  It is “Holy unto the Lord”, and God will honor us for keeping it sacred.

Listen to 1 Samuel 15:19, NKJV: Why then did you not obey the voice of the LORD? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do evil in the sight of the LORD?”

DON’T TOUCH THE GOLD!

Remember what happened to Ananias and Sapphira, their mishandling of finances and subsequent deceit had a disastrous outcome (See Acts 5:1-10)

PRINCIPLE #3- Seek Godly  Wisdom In Handling Money

God’s Word says: Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them. 6 Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. 7 Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.

It has been reported that 90% of pastors have not been properly prepared to take on the responsibilities of ministry. It would be safe to say that we were not properly prepared to handle the responsibilities of our own personal finances, let along the finances of our church or ministry. I know it was true in my life.So what do you do? Here are three suggestions:

           1. First, heed the warning of the prophet Hosea, “My people are destroyed for the lack of knowledge”(Hosea 4:6). 

Find and study books on Christian Financial Planning and Church Financial Management

           2. Next, very cautiously and very carefully begin to surround yourself with counselors. 

The Body of Christ has many members who can provide you with wise counsel. Ask the Lord to bless you with men and women of godly wisdom in the matters of stewardship.         Sometimes it may be wise to go to the secular financial advisors.

           3.  Finally, remember that every question you encounter regarding stewardship is answered in the Word of God.

Ecclesiastes 1:9 reminds us that: What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

Earnestly seek the Lord for supernatural wisdom and you find that the Lord is providing it according to His Word. James 1:5 says, If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. Amen

4. PRINCIPLE #4-Seek God and His Spiritual Prosperity 

Philippians 4:19  gives a glorious promise, And my God will liberally supply (fill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Amp).

He truly supplies every need, but we lack the knowledge necessary to manage the supply or resources. Throughout my life, I suffered much material lack because of the denominational teaching concerning the poverty concept, which still has many believers in bondage. When I choose to believe that God was a Good God, I was able to see the truth of God’s Word concerning prosperity. When you look at the above-referenced verse to believe otherwise is unbelief.

The key to renewing your mind from the concept of poverty is found in Joshua 1:8, it says: Do not let this Book of the Law (Teachings) depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 

Proverbs 13:21 says, Misfortune pursues the sinner, but prosperity is the reward of the Righteous. Be not deceived, God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap( Galatians 6:7).

PRINCIPLE  #5-Manage your Family’s Financial Needs

He must manage his own family well, having children who respect and obey him. 5 For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church? (NLT)

Here is where most minister’s miss it, God’s order of priority is that the family comes first, even before he established the church. The ministry is in close relationship to your family. They are to come first in your financial responsibility.

When you place your family second, you are planting seeds of resentment. I have heard and seen many embittered pastor’s wives who believe they are getting the scraps or leftovers after all has been given to the ministry. Even the children grow up with a resentment toward God because they were never cared for financially.

Start by creating a Financial Plan. Through Prayerful consideration in the matter of financial emergencies, insurance needs, buying a home (yes, every preacher, minister, and a believer should own their own – Debt-Free), investing, the cost of the children’s higher education, retirement planning, and so forth. I recommend that you address these concerns in the same manner as described in principle #3.  Sow seed that you “aim” at this need. Proverbs 13:4b says, “the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied”.

PRINCIPLE #6-Beware of Debt………..

The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is a servant to the lender (Proverbs 22:7 NIV).

I believe that in the United States, one of satan’s greatest spiritual weapons against us is FEAR. His greatest spiritual weapon is getting us to go into debt that is beyond our faith and common sense. The Spirit of Fear can immobilize a nation and it’s citizens. Debt tends to fill us with fear that crushes and consumes us. We’re subject to the lender, with its interest and payments, whether we have it or not. It has the ability to keep us from trusting a Loving God and caring out His true purpose for our lives. It is a many-tentacled monster that lives to wrap itself around us, pulling us to a place where we cannot breathe or steal the tithe thus causing us to come under the curse (Mal. 3:8-9).

Look at what the Israelites said in Nehemiah 5:4-5: And others said, “We have had to borrow money on our fields and vineyards to pay our taxes. 5 We belong to the same family as those who are wealthy, and our children are just like theirs. Yet we must sell our children into slavery just to get enough money to live. We have already sold some of our daughters, and we are helpless to do anything about it, for our fields and vineyards are already mortgaged to others.”

Does that sound familar?

Look at the advice which Paul gave in Romans 13:8a (AMP): Keep out of debt and owe no man anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor [who practices loving others] has fulfilled the Law [relating to one’s fellowmen, meeting all its requirements].

The Lords promise has never changed, look at Deuteronomy 15:6: For the LORD your God will bless you as he has promised, and you will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. You will rule over many nations but none will rule over you.

As I said before, there some temporarily acceptable debts because of the loans we make are associated with an asset of equal or greater value. If needed, one could sell the asset to extinguish the debt. If you are in debt, your goal should be to get out of debt ASAP to become and remain debt-free. It’s great feeling to be in this place, the liberty is breathtaking.

Some minister’s have built new sanctuaries or additions by paying as they go. I suggest that you contact these minister’s and learn how they did it.

PRINCIPLE #7-Avoid Schemes and Dreams

The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him (Proverbs 18:17 NIV).

As I have been, you will be approached. Well-meaning and not so well-meaning people will come to you with potential investments. And they all sound good!

My experience is to run from these financial dealings. On or two things will happen: The investment will do well and the relationship will be weakened because the adviser will believe that he is now entitled to a special influence over your life; or the investment will do poorly, hurting your relationship, even to the point of losing a precious friend.

Remember the Lord is your source, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed” (Proverbs 16:3 NIV).

PRINCIPLE #8- Find someone you can be accountable too….

Remember what the Roman captain said to Jesus, For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”(Matthew 8:9).

It is the Lords plan for us to be accountable to someone who is spiritually more mature than we and when possible, more disciplined financially. Prayerfully seek the Lord to lead you to someone whose character and integrity are beyond reproach, someone who can be a wise counselor – who directs you back to the Word of God. When the Lord has identified this person- consider taking suggestions from them concerning your ministry and your personal life (finances included).

Don’t forget to include you spouse in the decision making process. A house divided will surely fall. Your wife’s intuitive nature and sense of discernment, will aid you in the process.

PRINCIPLE #9-SURPRISE: Your success will be the harder to handle that your failure…..

And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good  crop. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’  18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” 20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’                                                                                 (Luke 12:16b-20 NIV)

Remember, satan is always one step behind you. He will urge you touch the tithe, or to borrow it. He will tempt you with self-reliance, even to the point of drawing you into adultery.  Success changes a person, when people begin to follow you, one has the ability to see themselves as God. That is what happened to Lucifier. Some have yielded to addiction, the mishandling of monies, attitudes and acts arrogance which leads to destruction.

Remember, it will require confession, humility you have known before the success, and time (yes time) to reach the place where you can have a new beginning.

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”                              1 Peter 5:5b

PRINCIPLE #10- Take care of the Lord’s business and He will take care of yours.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.                                                                                                            Hebrews 11:6