#363 Let’s Talk Money: Secure It

November 29, 2023

In the previous issue we looked at how serving leaders surrender money, seeing themselves as stewards of the financial resources entrusted to them. The second principle that guides serving leaders in relation to money is focused on how they get, or secure, money. Serving leaders recognize that without money, they cannot accomplish their mission. They recognize that their stewardship involves a responsibility to think carefully about how their money is obtained. Serving leaders secure money to serve others. This includes the organization, the people on their team, clients, vendors, and their community. As they think about getting money, they consider verses like these:

“A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare” (Prov. 21:6).

“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty” (Proverbs 14:23, NIV).

“Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint” (Prov. 23:4).

“Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you” (James 5:4).  

These verses, and others, indicate that there are correct and incorrect ways to get money and establish guidelines for how serving leaders secure money.

Serving leaders secure money by working well.  

“All hard work brings a profit….” Serving leaders are not afraid of hard work! They are willing to give the time and effort that is needed to earn money.  

Some leaders use their role to get out of work, believing that leadership is getting others to do the work. But serving leaders understand that they lead well by working well. They set an example to others with their commitment to work hard. They think and make financial plans and decisions that require hard work to accomplish. They work to establish financial integrity in their organization with appropriate safeguards for those involved in handling money.  Then they serve by getting busy and working hard!

Serving leaders secure money by balancing well.

Serving leaders work hard but they also have “the wisdom to show restraint.” Some leaders never stop working in their pursuit to get money. But serving leaders recognize that the connection between hard work and profit can quickly lead to an imbalanced life so they learn how to show restraint. They find ways to say “enough” and when it is time to stop they leave the office and turn off the cell phone or computer. This allows them to spend time with their family, engage in other activities including their own need for exercise and sleep. Because they see themselves as stewards they take diligent care of the money under their control, but they don’t allow the money to control them and they understand when it’s time to stop work!

Serving leaders secure money by treating well.

Serving leaders serve their organizations by treating the persons in the organization well. Many leaders see workers simply as bodies for production and are not concerned about their personal lives. But serving leaders value those who work with them and refuse to make money at their expense. They seek to pay wages that are as generous as possible while also safeguarding the financial integrity of the organization. Serving leaders understand that treating people well actually benefits the profitability of the organization by increasing employee engagement and productivity.

For further reflection and discussion:

  • Is my life a good example of hard work? In what way does this impact my leadership?
  • Have I established appropriate financial safeguards in my organization to protect myself and others from temptation and to encourage integrity in finances? If not, what do I need to do?
  • In what ways am I tempted to work too much? How does this impact my relationships with family, friends and my own health and wellbeing? What do I need to change this week to begin to show restraint?
  • How well do I treat people under my leadership? Am I as generous towards them as possible? Where I am not able to provide more financial benefit to them, do I look for other ways to honor them as people and see that they are well treated?
  • Consider these additional verses related to finances and stewardship:  Proverbs 1:19, 6:10-11, 13:11; Luke 14:28, 16:9-11; James 5:4; 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 10, 12. What more do you learn about how you interact with money as a serving leader?

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll examine how serving leaders share money.

#362 Let’s Talk Money: Surrender It 

November 15, 2023 

Serving leaders, like all leaders, deal with money every day. Decisions need to be made that involve money in both personal and leadership roles. Serving leaders shape their thinking and decision-making process about money by their desire to serve and bless others. In this series, we’ll examine three basic principles that guide serving leaders in the way they view money and make financial decisions. The first seems counterintuitive but is foundational—serving leaders surrender money! Serving leaders recognize that the money they control is not ultimately theirs, they act as stewards. Consider these verses:  

 “The silver is mine and the gold is mine, declares the LORD Almighty” (Haggai 2:8, NIV).  

“Again, it [the kingdom of heaven] will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them (Matthew 25:14).  

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money (Matthew 6:24). 

Serving leaders seek to live out the principles found in these and many similar scriptures by surrendering their money.  

Serving leaders surrender money by acknowledging their stewardship.   

 Haggai boldly declared that God is the ultimate owner of all wealth. In the parable of the talents Jesus teaches that He entrusts resources to individuals to steward on His behalf. This view radically changes how serving leaders view money, it is not theirs, they are simply stewards.  

Some leaders are obsessed with money—getting it, keeping it, and enjoying it. Their focus is inward, and they make their financial decisions based on how it will benefit themselves. But serving leaders surrender money, they acknowledge that they are in leadership to serve others and they have money to serve others. This applies to their personal finances as well as the money they oversee in their organization. As they surrender control as stewards, they experience the freedom of contentment.   

Serving leaders surrender money by acknowledging their leadership.     

Those who see their role as stewards find freedom but also a responsibility—to use the money entrusted to them well. Many leaders use their leadership to gain advantage for themselves, focused on what will benefit them personally. But serving leaders understand that as stewards, the money they manage has a higher purpose than profit or gain, it is to serve the organization and reflect God’s desires and vision.  They are still called to lead and to use the money in a way that reflects the desires of the ultimate owner, and they serve their organizations by taking responsibility for properly managing the finances.    

Serving leaders surrender money by acknowledging their temptation.    

Jesus warns about the dangerous power money can exert in our lives. Money can literally become our god. Many leaders allow money to be the ultimate authority in their lives and do whatever it takes to get more and have more. But serving leaders acknowledge that a love of money can lead them away from serving the good of their families, communities, and organizations. They surrender money so they can lead with integrity, humility and stewardship for the good of those they serve.  

For further reflection and discussion: 

  • How have I viewed money and financial resources, as an owner or a steward? What difference has it made in my leadership?  
  • As I lead and make financial decisions, do I demonstrate a selfish heart or a serving heart? What example can I give of a decision made in the last week that demonstrates this?  
  • In what ways does money tempt me to abandon serving? How do I, or how could I, guard my heart against this? 
  • Consider these additional verses related to finances and stewardship: Psalm 50:10, Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 12:42-48.   What more do you learn about how you interact with money as a serving leader?  

Until next time, yours on the journey, 

Jon Byler 

In the next issue, we’ll look at how serving leaders get money.  

#361 Timothy: Learning to Fight the Battle

November 1, 2023

All leaders fight battles—but not all leaders know what battles they should fight or how to win the battles. Paul gave Timothy instructions about how to serve others by successfully fighting and winning the right battles.

18 Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, 19 holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith (1 Timothy 1:18-19, NIV).

11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses (1 Timothy 6:11–12).

Some of Paul’s instructions to Timothy go against the natural instincts of a leader who is faced with a battle. But serving leaders carefully observe what Timothy learned from Paul and learned how to fight by running in the right direction at the right time.

Timothy learned to fight by running back.   

Paul encouraged Timothy to remember the “good confession” and the prophecies that had been made about him “so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well…”  Timothy learned to fight by running back to the memories that would help keep him grounded. He needed to remember who he was, why he was called, and the great purpose for which he served as a leader. As he ran back, he would gain clarity on which battles to fight and which direction to run.

Some leaders facing battles run away instead of running back. Others run quickly towards the battle but lack the solid footing that comes from recalling their purpose. They run into the battle with no sense of who they are or why they are leading. Serving leaders facing any battle fight first by running back! They run back to where they get their stability and strength. They reflect on where they have come from and why they are leading. They recall their great purpose. Then, with clarity of purpose and focus, they can face the battle.

Timothy learned to fight by running away.

Paul also encouraged Timothy to fight by fleeing “from all this”! It does not seem courageous to avoid battles, but Timothy learned that some battles are won by running away! (*See note.) He needed to turn away from areas of temptation and weakness.

Some leaders try to fight every battle. They simply charge forward believing that if there’s a battle, they should lead the charge and win. But serving leaders run away from some battles and find victory by avoiding the things that lead them in the wrong direction.

Timothy learned to fight by running toward.

At the same time Paul urges Timothy to flee from some things, he tells Timothy to “pursue” others. Timothy was learning to fight by running toward what was right and good. As he pursued these things, he strengthened his leadership capacity and was better able to serve those he was leading.

Some leaders never learn to run towards the right goals. They settle for short term wins and quick success. They measure victory only by the “bottom line” instead of the finish line. But serving leaders fight by running towards the qualities and actions that will bring ultimate success to those they serve.

Timothy served well by fighting battles well. Serving leaders learn to serve those under them by knowing when to run back, when to run away, and when to run toward their battles.

For further reflection and discussion:

  • How can I learn to run in the right direction when I face the battles of leadership? What do I need to run back to that will keep me grounded?  What things do I need to run away from? What things do I need to pursue? What happens when I run toward before I run back or away?  
  • Reflect on those you lead. What can I do to encourage them to develop their ability to fight well? Do I need to remind some to run back to their grounding? Are there ways I need to encourage some to flee areas of weakness? How do I call my team to pursue what is good?       
  • In addition to the verses we used in this issue, consider the following: 1 Timothy 1:18, 6:6-11, 20-21; and 2 Timothy 2:22.  What additional insights do you find from these verses about how Timothy fought by running?               

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

(*In this context Timothy was especially encouraged to flee from the desire for money.  In another place Paul warns him to flee sexual temptation (see 2 Timothy 2:22). Both of these are areas where many leaders lose the battle.)  

As we conclude this series on the life of Timothy, I want to acknowledge the hard work of those who serve behind the scenes to get these out to you! Milonica Stahl-Wert and Linda Boll both use their keen editing skills to sharpen these emails. And Brian Drewery does all that is needed with technology to get these on our websites and on their way to you. Our world is better because of many who, like them, serve behind the scenes!

 If you enjoyed this series, click here to get the entire series in one document.

In the next issue, we’ll begin a series on the serving leader and money.