Faith, Family, & Finances- An Introduction
I'm going to start this blog post off with the disclaimer that I am in no way an expert in any of what I’m going to write about in this blog series. If you know me I don’t want you to think I’m one of those people who write about something and pretend to be perfect. I’m just a follower of Jesus, husband, father, and an entrepreneur who struggles like everyone else to make sense of this daily grind that we call life. To be honest I fail and fail often, at times much more spectacularly than most. I’m not always the best, I’m stubborn and bullheaded, I like a glass of whiskey a little too much, I swear more than I should and talk too loud. The one thing I am good at, is persistence, I don't give up and learn something every time I fail. I strive to always be better than I was, to learn from my many mistakes. So that’s what this is primarily about, you'll hear about a whole bunch of mistakes I've made and what I learned from them.
The idea for the series has been on my mind and heart for a few years now. Kaitlin and I somewhere along the way picked up saying the phrase, G.F.W, which stood for God, family, and work. It was always a way for us to acknowledge our priorities and their order in our lives. We always felt if you put things in that order, then everything else will fall into place. As we’ve grown businesses and our family I’ve found that it always rings true, but saying that is easy, it's the doing it that's hard. I can't honestly say that I've always done it right, there have been time I'm forgotten about all three for a bit and focused on other things and made a mess of it all. The last few years I’ve really started to develop my thoughts on it much deeper than just as a simple saying. It has to become part of our daily life, our routine, for it to work. I think that it’s time to share some of it with others. This is the introduction to a series I'm going to call Faith, Family, and Finances.
We live in a world that is more connected that ever before. Since the dawn of the internet (big thank you to Al Gore) we have more information available to us than probably all of human history that has come before us combined. I can literally google almost anything and find answers. Yet it seems that with all this knowledge and technology we still seldom have the answers, we're overwhelmed, and at times beaten down. The very things that should allow us more freedom seem only to bind us down farther, (thanks to whoever thought putting work email on your phone was a great idea, I blame someone at blackberry). Some of these technologies, instead of allowing us freedom, have truly tied us down. Remember what it was like when you didn't have a cell phone? I'm what I'l call an elder millennial, I remember those days. Now when Facebook goes down for a few hours, we lose our minds.
We hurriedly shuffle around from work, to practices, to board meetings, dance and piano everyday in a dizzying dash. When people ask the rhetorical “How are you doing?” I find we often respond with mantras that we use to try and convince ourselves that running ragged is not only normal but a good thing. We say things like “We’re super busy but #BLESSED” or “We’re awesome, things are great, I mean you who needs to eat and sleep regularly?” Or we flat out lie and say “Awesome, couldn’t be better.” I'm guilty of always saying "Living the dream", even when it's a nightmare. Now I'm not saying we should ever be negative, I've always been taught you say positive things even when you are sucking on those lemons life just handed you. What I'm saying is, that we shouldn't live a life were we have to fake positive, we should live a life were that's the real answer. We strut around wearing our busyness as a badge of honor. We try and one up our friends about who has the most going on. I’m here to tell you, I’m tired of it, not just metaphorically, I’m physically freakin' tired, life can be exhausting but only if we let it be.
I've learned that busy doesn’t mean productive and it certainly doesn’t mean you are living a full life, just a life full of stuff and things going on. I can stay busy all day and not accomplish anything of value. It doesn’t have to be this way, there are better paths we can take, but it takes some something I know I used to not do well, being intentional. Kaitlin and I have realized that when things are out of whack in our life and we felt like we were running off the tracks that our priorities weren't in line with our actions. That’s where Faith, Family, Finances came in, for us to focus on things in that order. What I’ve found in my own life and seen in others is that having our priorities out of order, leads to our greatest issues. People sometimes float around life with no real purpose or direction, or even worse know what they want but can't see their actions don't match their priorities. Their priorities aren’t in line with what they should be. When our priorities are out of order, our life is inherently out of order. We sow but never reap, we sleep but never become rested, we try to get ahead but never do more than tread water.
We are going to really talk about priorities and what's important, the older I've gotten the more I realize we have finite amount of time and energy and we truthfully tend to waste it. We aren’t efficient, we waste time like we can get it back, but it’s because no one has ever taught us to be intentional.
Here are some of the things future posts in this series will go through:
Faith-“Put God first and you’ll never be last.” It’s our daily walk with God. It’s putting God first in our lives, above our children and our spouse. It’s about finding a daily routine with prayer and study. We have to put it before everything, we can’t pour from an empty cup, we have to refill it daily with this relationship. My biggest failures in my life (we'll talk a lot about these) have been with God wasn't front and center in my life. You cant to the fullest potential, lead your family, run a business, or be a good employee, if you are running spiritually empty. God deserves our first and best fruits. It's time to give them to Him.
Family-It’s the second most important thing in our lives, but I've at times put them first and paradoxically at times probably close to last, neither of which work. Our family belongs firmly in 2nd place behind our personal relationship with God. Hey, wait a minute Richard, did you just say you put your family second?!? Some people may find that harsh or difficult to comprehend, I mean what good person thinks you should put your family second? It’s what God tells us to do, though. I've ignored Gods voice too many times in my life, believe me & He's screamed at me a few times, but this is one I'm trying harder to always hear. Something that has really become clear as we’ve raised as family is there is there has to be an order in these relationships too. It’s easy to love our children, they are part of us, it's our natural inclination to ensure their survival, right? We can too easily give them everything we have. It can be much harder to love our spouse, when things get tough, its easy to focus on our kids and not on each other, because that takes more work. We rationalize it by telling ourselves we are being good parents and we'll make time for our marriage later. I'm incredibly guilty of this, its something I face daily and have to intentionally work on. Here’s the deal, you are one flesh (Ephesians 5:31), the relationship with our spouse has to come first, before our children, and before the rest of our family. It may take more work but hey that's part of this. God uses familial analogies with throughout the Bible and He refers to the Church as Christ’s bride, just as it would be his second priority, (behind the relationship with The Father) our spouse has to be ours. We’ll talk about marriage, raising children in a fallen world, the all sorts of aspects of the family dynamic.
Finances- We aren’t just Christians on Sunday mornings or Wednesday evenings, right? Are we running Godly businesses or displaying Christs love as we work daily? As Christians we tend to shy away from faith in the workplace but my question is, do you live a life that demonstrates your faith in Christ in a manner that people know at your core what you believe without every saying a word? This is an area that I struggle in I know.
We’ll talk about what it means to be a good steward of what God provides us with. We’ll discuss things like : As a Christian is it wrong to create wealth? What does the Bible say about wealth and money? We will talk about the Parable of the Talents. Are we giving God our first fruits? I'm guilty of pulling back when funds have gotten tight, but that's not what God tells us to do. If you look at your credit card or bank statements, that will show us where your priorities are placed. Do they align with what you want or what you say?
My goal is to talk about priorities and work on how to make life align with them, starting with Faith, Family, and Finances. Then looking at what is the most important to you after those things, that can go in the 4th, 5th, and 6th spot. To me, if it doesn’t fall into those spots, you really need to evaluate if it's worth your time. I’m excited to finally start getting these ideas out of my head and my notebooks and put out there for others, I think that's a big part of discipleship, using our gifts to help others.