As evidenced by the following article, which was written in 1989, Bill Robertson has been trying to do financial planning “better” for a long time. Our latest iteration is our Stewardship Coaching endeavor. We think that all too often we rely on secular tools attempting to reach secular goals (what John Haughton in his book Virtue and Influence calls “calculus of the Pharisees”).
Planning is much more secure laying upon a foundation composed of your values. This foundation, this examination of what is truly important to you, should be done first. We think our Stewardship Coaching lays such a foundation. Please visit our website at http://www.wfrplanning.com/stewardship-coaching to learn more of this unique offering or to learn about my new book, Journey from Anxiety to Freedom.
October 3, 1989
Notes, trying to develop some concepts about planning from a Christian perspective.
For many years, we have been struggling with a process that would enable us to do financial planning for people which conformed to a Christian perspective. Most of the plans that we have done in the past have been based on traditional secular approaches to financial planning. Typically, we would sit down with the clients, assess their present situation, discuss their goals and desires, analyze the facts, and make recommendations to them about achieving their goals. Over a period of time, we have begun to realize that there are some missing components from this process.
As Christians, we accept the fact that the Scriptures contain many principles about the handling of our financial affairs. In most cases, we assume that relating these principles to people will enable them to live successfully in the area of finances. We have begun to realize this approach is not conformed to reality. Unrepentant and unregenerate, people are exposed to principles that many times may merely be assisting in giving the appearance of walking in the ways of God, when in fact the principles really allow them to increase their self-will. God gave us principles to call us to obedience, not to allow us to increase our self-will.
Many times, the flesh whimpers against the rigors of God’s principles and begs like Agag (1 Samuel 15) for a little mercy, a little indulgence of its carnal ways. Even where there is a degree of repentance, we sometimes allow people to worship the principles of God instead of calling them to worship the God of the principles. We need to emphasize the principles will not work in the wrong soil and unless we walk in near repentance, unless we employ trust we will walk in the sin. Principles are meant to bring our heart and desires in line with God’s word. They are to encourage to give absolute obedience to God’s word. Biblical principles, where there exists special efficiency will allow us to do what we want rather than what God wants us to do.
Therefore, prior to starting any financial process, it is extremely important that the motives of the heart be explored. Secular planning is done without the acknowledgment that God has a plan for each one of our lives, secular planning assumes that with the proper information using mathematical formulas, that a correct plan can be developed. The subject of freedom, faith, right motives, keeping our eyes on Christ, the use of correct principles, and living faithful and disciplined lives are usually ignored. As a result, traditional planning builds failure into the plan because it is based on the presumption of the future.
Biblical planning should start with the approach that God has something planned for each of us in the space and the idea that “It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.” (Proverbs 25:2). It then becomes more important to determine what God wants and then to ask for the grace and power to fulfill it. In many cases, the details will not be fully clear. But as we walk in obedience, we will progress toward the goal. The Lord is very wise, he never does anything wastefully. And if he knows we have no willingness to obey, there will be no need for him to give us understanding. The plan we desire must be devised with the idea in mind that God has prepared our way and take advantage of it.
Secular planning is greatly dependent upon what has happened in the past and what we think will happen in the future. Biblical planning is guided by the admonition contained in Isaiah 43:18–19, “Do not call to mind the former things or ponder the things of the past. Behold I do something new.” Although the past is taken into account, the biblical approach recognizes that the Christian walks by faith and not by sight. If a plan is developed and God is not included to make it successful, you will not have a biblical plan. Secular planning is mostly projection planning or wishful planning. We make many assumptions such as inflation rate, tax laws, obsolescence, etc. It assumes that we can get from step one to step two successively. This is a fallacy. Secular planning has a preoccupation with techniques rather than building a sound foundation.
Scriptures tell us that if God doesn’t build the house then we build it in vain. An objective of Christian planning is to make our decisions based on the absolute truth of the Bible. That will give us confidence and bring us a feeling of purpose and self-esteem. Once the plan is developed we will evaluate all our activities in light of the objective. In many cases, we will abandon tradition and lift our hearts to heaven for inspiration if the purpose of biblical planning is to release us from bondage, not to increase the bondage.
We are children of Abraham, and like Abraham, we are pilgrims and we need to move our altars from one place to another in order that he might acquaint us with His ways. Abraham’s experiences were to enlarge his vision. We must hold things lightly and be willing to change our course if God so indicates. If not, he will frustrate our goals and objectives if they are merely there to assist us in being more selfish and self-centered. We should focus more on a process that will permit us to respond to God’s leading. We are people of altars and tents.
We must remember that God does not only look at our performance but he looks at our heart. His ways are not our ways. We are not judged by performance but by the intention of our heart.
Note: Radical trust and radical obedience are the only things that can crucify covetousness.
Heady stuff and difficult to implement in our society. A lifetime is not long enough to absorb all the implications. I like the definition of repent used in my book – “to go in a different direction.” Stewardship Coaching is designed not to tell you what to do, but to help you walk according to your values. If you would like to explore these concepts further, it would be our honor to accompany you on your journey.
We think our Stewardship Coaching lays such a foundation. Please visit our website at http://www.wfrplanning.com/stewardship-coaching to learn more of this unique offering or to learn about my new book, Journey from Anxiety to Freedom