‘By all the means you can’: Faith plays a role in finances

Published 12:02 am Saturday, April 6, 2013

When Andy and Karen Fisher wanted to learn more about managing finances, they went to church.
The Belhaven couple took a Dave Ramsey course offered at Pantego’s Union Grove Church of Christ last year.
The course covered setting goals, getting rid of debts and investing in real estate, a favorite topic for Fisher, a Coldwell Bank Realtor. He said the course was well worth the time and money.
“It was very helpful, a good support group,” Fisher said.
The course did not change how Fisher felt about money and finances. It reinforced his thoughts on the subject.
“It showed us how to run it and not let it run you. I think money is a tool to be used but it should not be the goal of your life,” Fisher said. “What was nice was it (the course) was right in church.”
Dave Ramsey has made a name for himself writing and speaking about budgeting everything from time to irregular income. But, he is not the only one doling out faith-based financial advice. Christian pastors and leaders have carved out ministries devoted to finances, business and leadership. It is a subject Fisher said more churches should address.
“I think it’s a part of ministering to the flock,” he said. “I think churches have a responsibility of ministering to the problems its members face.”
Bayview resident Pam Pippin recently organized a leadership conference that wove together Christianity and business. She said many of the local businessmen she enlisted as guest speakers were Christians who had succeeded using faith-based principles.
“What I walked away from the entire week, I walked away with a community who is searching for leadership principles that are timeless, everlasting and based upon faith,” Pippin said.
When Pippin started her business career about 20 years ago, she said she had her priorities out of order. She focused on success and found it, and realized it was not enough.
“I had success but what I didn’t have was fulfillment,” said the P-Inc. owner. “I realized I had the two reversed. When I put God first, success and fulfillment came.”
Like Fisher, Pippin said churches needed to be involved in business and community leadership.
“I think it is very important for our churches to be active in the marketplace, active in teaching people sound biblical principles about finances, about their relationships and about their businesses,” she said.
Pippin cited proof that the demand for faith-based leadership guidance was on the rise. She is involved in a Chik-fil-A leadership webcast that emphasizes how focusing on “good” helps to accomplish “excellent.”
Some Greenville business leaders have formed two organizations that marry faith and leadership: Called 2 Business and C 12.
Pippin said C 12 was based on Christ and his 12 disciples and geared toward CEO’s.
“I believe there is a need for that,” she said. “The reason why we’re seeing so much of these things is be cause people are calling for it.”
Chris Noble, pastor of Belhaven’s Trinity United Methodist Church and elder in the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, said there is a basis for this tie between religion and finances.
“It’s part of our faith. It’s part of who we are,” Noble said. “The foundational point from Christian faith is that everything we have belongs to God, not us.”
The Old and New Testaments talked about Stewardship.  Based on scripture, Noble said Christians have a responsibility to use money wisely.
“For young Christians the most important thing is to get out of debt and stay out of debt. Too many of us fall into that trap,” he said.
If he could go back in time, Noble said he would stay out of debt. He has learned to hold on to cars instead of trading them out every few years and he and his wife have slowly started paying off their debts.
He recommends people live within their means. There is nothing wrong with that 60-inch flatscreen, if you do not have to go into debt to buy it.
Noble said the biggest problem with debt is that it limits what people can do in the name of God. It is hard to volunteer or do charitable acts when there are bills to pay. He referred to a quote from John Wesley, “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can.”
“I don’t believe the Bible would call that a sin. We don’t call it a sin, but call it a hindrance to our faith,” Noble said. “The Bible does say the borrower is the servant to the lender. It’s a matter of discipline, really. It limits my ability to serve God.”