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Financial Discipleship as a Lifestyle

Today, I received an e-mail advising me that my physiotherapist was leaving his practice for a ‘major lifestyle change.’ There have been several stories on TV recently, about successful businesspeople who, disillusioned with their lifestyles, decided to shake up their lives, sell up, give it all away and choose a simpler lifestyle.

What is a lifestyle? The term was first introduced by the Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler in 1929. According to Adler, lifestyle refers to the way they choose to go about achieving the ultimate goal of superiority in important life tasks. It is an individual's unique way of thinking, feeling, and behaving to take control in areas op opportunity. It is a means of forging a sense of self and to create cultural symbols that resonate with personal identity.

Some ways in which lifestyles are expressed in our modern times include lifestyles as;

Health and fitness lifestyle, valuing physical attributes. Ecological lifestyle, valuing conservation and sustainability. Consumer lifestyle valuing enjoyment of material things. Bohemian lifestyle, valuing liberty, the arts and travel. A corporate lifestyle, valuing company values, work, success. These are, like most things in life, good in themselves, but when taken to extremes can be harmful.

I was wondering what my lifestyle was … until someone told me that married men don’t have a lifestyle. They have a ‘wifestyle.’

This week, I heard a young Russian lady complaining that, with the recent Russian problems with YouTube and TikTok, her livelihood was gone. She was a successful ‘influencer.’ These days influencers are extremely important in lifestyle marketing techniques. They have the power to affect the purchasing decisions of others because of his or her authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with his or her audience. Our lifestyles are constantly being influenced by the media and popular people. I often ask myself, “How is my lifestyle being influenced? By popular culture, or by Jesus?

So, what is a ‘financial discipleship lifestyle’? Financial discipleship is simply using resources that God has entrusted me with, for His work in His way, for His purposes. His work is to ‘reconcile all things to Himself (Colossians 1:20). His way is obedience to His Word (2 Timothy 3:16). His purpose is to transform us to become like Jesus (Colossians 1:28).

Jesus told a parable which illustrates the major elements of a ‘Financial Discipleship Lifestyle.’

In this story (Matthew 25:14-30), servants were given a large sum of money to manage by the Owner. After some time, the Owner returned and held them accountable for how they had used the resources entrusted to them. “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master’ (Matthew 25:21). Two hear “Well Done!” One did not do well and was called lazy and wicked. The elements of a ‘financial discipleship lifestyle, as illustrated by Jesus are:

1. Servanthood.

This means putting the interests of the Master first, above all. It means acknowledging the Master is Owner, and I have no rights, but only responsibilities. Financial discipleship (FD)is a servant lifestyle, focussed solely on the wishes of the Master.

2. Quantity of resource utilization. Increase the impact of the resources given to the best of my ability. Not everyone gets the same resources, not has equal abilities. FD Lifestyle choices are unique to the individual, should maximise return for the Master, and should not be made because others are making them. An FD Lifestyle is to wisely invest the resources given and to produce an increase.

3. Quality of resource utilisation The Master said, “well done,’ to the servants based on two criteria … ‘good and faithful.’ The FD Lifestyle is characterized by ‘goodness,’ - the quality of our work, the way in which it is carried out, and the usefulness to those we are serving. FD Lifestyle is known by its ‘faithfulness,’ - being true to our commitments, loyal to our relationships, devoted to the Master and steadfast in the execution of His assignments.

4. Accountability The Master will hold us accountable for how well we used the resources given to work with. An FD Lifestyle should use his/her time, talents, and treasure with this in mind. Will the work earn the Master’s approval?

5. Accept more responsibility The reward for good stewardship is more stewardship! If the Master discovers a servant who is ‘good and faithful’ in managing His resources, then that servant will be entrusted with more. An FD Lifestyle means to be willing to take on new assignments, more responsibility. ‘You have been faithful with little; I will set you over much.’

6. Lives in “The Joy of the Master’ Jesus invites the good and faithful servant to live daily in His joy. It is a gracious invitation equal to inviting humble servants to dine at the master’s table, which reflects His provision of all we need and true, fulfilling pleasure! “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)

Our task is to develop such a lifestyle of Financial Discipleship and be an ‘influencer.’ Jesus believes every one of us is an influencer. He said, ““You are the salt of the earth… You are the light of the world”( Matthew 5:13-16). As a believer, you are already an influencer. His concern is not becoming an influencer but ruining our existing influence. As a believer, you are living in a glass house. People are watching you constantly.

What do they see? A materialistic, consumer lifestyle – or a Financial Discipleship Lifestyle?

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