What motivates you to manage your money? For some, it’s the desire for wealth. For others, it’s being debt free. Some people are motivated by a desire to have a nice retirement; others focus on providing a good education for their children. Some people are motivated by a need to be in control — of their money and the security it represents.
It’s also true that some people find it very difficult getting motivated to manage their money. They may desire the same good outcomes as everyone else, but have a hard time taking the necessary steps to succeed with money.
Money personality types play a big part in determining the motivations we respond to. “People Person Paula” responds to different motivations than “Wilbert the Winner,” while what excites “Harry the Hoarder” will be quite different than what motivates “Sam the Slob.”
Doing God’s will
Whatever your money motivator is, I suggest you consider whether it’s the best one for you. If you think about it, we should have no greater motivation than doing God’s will in our lives. When it comes to money, our Lord’s will is for us to faithfully act as his steward. So, while having financial goals for saving and spending are important, our motivation should be fulfilling the role of steward in an exemplary manner.
It’s a high calling, but it’s one that often doesn’t receive the emphasis it should. A priest friend of mine once told me that it’s not up to us whether we are stewards or not. We are all stewards. The question is: What kind of steward are we going to be?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it this way: “In his use of things man should regard the external goods he legitimately owns not merely exclusive to himself but common to others also, in the sense that they can benefit others as well as himself. The ownership of any property makes its holder a steward of Providence, with the task of making it fruitful and communicating its benefits to others, first of all his family” (No. 2404).
The perfect mentor
Fulfilling the role of steward well starts with accepting the responsibility. Then you need a good mentor. The perfect steward is Jesus Christ and he will be your best mentor. Take time to get to know him better — through Scripture and the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. As you increase your knowledge of Christ, you’ll be better able to imitate him. That’s the essence of being a steward of Providence.
Accepting Jesus as your mentor applies to money matters in marriage, too. Surveys show that money plays a significant role in failed marriages. It’s also a cause of frustration in many otherwise healthy marriages. With regard to money, the best way to bring unity to your marriage is for both of you to grow closer to Christ. As you do so, you’ll be growing closer to each other. You’ll better understand your responsibility as a steward and be more unified as you develop your financial priorities.
So, the next time you sit down to pay the bills, prepare your budget or track income and expenses, remember the responsibility that has been given to you by the Lord himself — to be a steward of Providence. There should be no greater motivation for managing your money well.
God love you.
Phil Lenahan is the president of Veritas Financial Ministries (VeritasFinancialMinistries.com) and the author of “7 Steps to Becoming Financially Free” (OSV, $19.95). Submit questions for columns to firstname.lastname@example.org.