Ways to Live in Abundance
Stewardship. Sometimes we see it as a dirty word because it is related to an issue that many of us would like to forget: money. But stewardship does not refer only to the treasure (or money, bread, or whatever you call it), but also to time and to talent. In the Bible there are many examples of ways in which the People of God have used their time, talents, and treasure. Look to 1 Peter 4:10 for an example of what God asks from God’s children, “As every person hath received the gift, even so, minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” Stewardship has a lot to do with the good management of what God has given us: time, talent, and treasure.
In my life, the examples of good stewards have been my mom and dad, Laura and Reverend Alejandro Montes. What I learned about God, the Church, work, education, and life was through their examples, more than from their advice. I saw how they managed their time to allow for study, to take good care of our family and have an energetic ministry. I also saw how they managed their money, contributed their tithe, and gave to our family and to people in need. I saw how they developed their musical and writing talents, continued their educations, and spent hours learning about ways to help people around them.
One of the ways in which they’ve helped people is by teaching how to make a family budget and to save. Here’s one of my mother’s best saving secrets: My mom always goes to the store (or restaurant, gas station, or wherever she is planning to spend money) with a budget in mind. Let us say that she plans to spend $80. When she arrives at the store, she notices that they have a sale, or that the price went down, and she spends only $57. Since she had already budgeted $80, she sees the $23 (sometimes one has to use a calculator) left over as already spent, so when she gets home she puts the $23 away in a secret place. On other occasions, she may plan to spend money on something, let’s say a skirt that she’s been eyeing, but then somebody gives her one, so she puts that money away too. She teaches this simple practice to people she knows, and many of them have found that her method really works.
Another great example comes from my dad; he has a formula for creating an adequate budget while living an abundant life. He calls it 10-10-60-20 and he has been using it for many years. It is not a telephone number, but it answers our financial needs. These numbers are percentages. The first 10% is, of course, for God: “ Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” (Malachi 3:10) My family is living proof of this. We give out tithes and offering because we are grateful for God’s generosity. My parents have always said that it is a way to praise God and thank God for God’s faithfulness. It is not easy to start tithing if you are not used to it, but I assure you that if you test God with this offering you will see God’s glory. The next 10% is for savings “… provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.” (Proverbs 6:8) Sometimes it may seem boring to save, but when we enjoy the benefits of saving with travel, meals, technology, whatever we may desire, it’s a lot of fun. The 60% is for all of our monthly expenses: house, car, food, electricity, and gas. “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 4:19) The last 20% is for the unexpected: Our car is not running, one of our children is sick, we have to travel; look to James 4:14, “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow.” This budget will help you have a plan for your present and future. Remember what Proverbs 21:5 says: The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.”
In this Spanish language video you can hear Reverend Alejandro and Laura Montes advice on how to live a life full of blessings as a result of being good administrators. To be able to give to God, they tell us, first we have to give ourselves to God. 2 Corinthians 8:5 explains to us “… first they gave their own selves to the Lord and unto us by the will of God.” I have seen with a great deal of wonder how my mom and dad have lived this, and how God has blessed, blesses, and will bless them for their efforts. What I have seen is what Matthew says in 25:23: The master (in this case, God) told him (and tells my parents): “Well done, good and faithful steward, thou hast been faithful of these few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou onto the joy of thy Lord.”
Let us be faithful over few things, serving God and His People and being administrators of His blessing for the glory of His kingdom, and in turn we will also see how it manifests in our lives.
Could your personal money management system us a makeover? Consider adopting one or both of the approaches practiced by the Montes family.
1. Building up your savings: Laura Montes budgets money for specific items including her weekly groceries or other essentials. If she finds that she spends less than what she budgeted, the balance is added to her savings.
2. Adopting the 10-10-60-20 budget
- 10% for God
- 10% for savings
- 60% for your monthly expenses
- 20% for unforeseen expenses
Do you see any difference in your finances after three months? Six? A year?
Sandra Montes is the Episcopal Church Foundation's Spanish Language Resource Consultant. Born in Perú, Sandra grew up in Guatemala and settled in Texas as soon as she could. Her passions are God, family (especially her son), music, education, and writing. She has been developing original bilingual resources for her church, school, and others for years. Sandra has been volunteering and working in the Episcopal Church since she was welcomed into Her in 1986. She serves as musician, translator, speaker, consultant, and writer. She is a full-time teacher and doctoral student.
- “A Stewardship Bible Study” prepared by Angela Emerson, Laurel Johnston, and Bruce Rockwell, a resource from The Episcopal Network for Stewardship
- “And Forgive Us Our Debts…” by Erin Weber-Johnson, ECF Vital Practices’ Vital Post
COMPASS: Navigating Faith and Finances, a resource from Ecumenical Stewardship Center
- “Living Wi$ely: A four part personal finance and budget counseling ministry” a resource from The Episcopal Network for Stewardship
- “My Annual Spiritual Checkup” by Bruce Rockwell, a resource from The Episcopal Network for Stewardship
- “Our ‘Money Life’” by Davis Fisher, ECF Vital Practices
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