Monday, December 19, 2011

Money Monday: Give Like No One Else




It's Monday again...and it's the last Monday of my series about my journey through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University.

If you've been reading these in sequence from week to week, you might recall that I mentioned in last week's post that I would be combining the last two lessons in this post since I had missed (and then made up) a session two weeks ago entitled, Real Estate and Mortgages: Keeping the American Dream from Becoming a Nightmare.

However, after last night's amazing lesson, I decided that I want to end the series with it -- and it alone. So, if you are interested in what Ramsey has to say about real estate (and there is some good info there), you can find it on his websiteradio show, or when you take his class for yourself.

I hope that doesn't disappoint anyone, but since I'm the master of this domain (literally and figuratively), I figure that I can make that executive decision.

So....the last lesson, The Great Misunderstanding: Unleashing the Power of Generous Giving, was my favorite in the series. Yes, most of the lessons are highly entertaining, and all are very informative. But, this brought it all together for me with a nice bow on top.

This session was all about Baby Step 7: Build wealth and GIVE!

Ramsey started off the lesson by taking us through all the baby steps as a review, but after he listed this one, he paused and told us that we can do everything he teaches and prosper, but if we don't get this lesson down, we will never truly have financial peace.

Why?

Because the "Great Misunderstanding" is the mistaken belief "that the way to have more is hold on tightly."

He showed us an analogy of the closed fist around a wad of cash. True...no money is getting out, but none is coming in either. Only an open hand can receive and allow money to leave.

He reminded us of what our true position is in this world as Christians. We are not "owners." We are "stewards" or caretakers of God's property. When we give, we are not the benevolent benefactor we'd like to envision. Rather, we are merely stand-ins and hands extended of God's largess.

When we get that, it makes it so much easier to open that clenched hand and let money flow out to those who need it. 

Why are we asked to give and tithe?

Does the God who spoke light into existence need our money?

Will our tithing (or lack thereof) break or make our local church?

As with everything, God is not so much concerned about the material as he is with the eternal.

Giving is an exercise of obedience and an expression of love and devotion. 

As Ramsey shared, "Giving moves you to become less selfish, and less selfish people have more of a tendency to prosper in relationships and wealth."

Giving is a way of life. It has very little to do with money at its true core.

It's a heart condition.

I completely and utterly believe this to be true. I've seen it at work in my own life.

There was a time when I did not have a giving heart. I was out for me and what I thought was mine and what I deserved. Plain and simple -- I was selfish. I don't think I really knew and understood that about myself until I took a Spiritual Gifts test when I was in high school.

Predictably, with my Type-A personality, I scored highly on Administration and Exhortation. I also did fairly well on Discernment and Hospitality. However, out of the entire list, there was one that came in dead last.

Giving.

Even at the tender age of 15, I knew that this was bad. Not only was it a harsh barometer of my teen-aged priorities, but I know that it was inexcusable for me as Christian.

You can't be a true lover of God and not give...because everything He is centers around His deep love for us in giving us his one and only Son.

So, I determined to do something about it.

My first step was to ask God to change and soften my heart and to help me to understand where a heart of giving comes and to learn how to be a giver. And it wasn't easy and it didn't happen quickly, but over time, I think that I can say (without being boastful) that I have learned this lesson and continue to learn it.

In fact, would you believe that I have been accused of giving "too much" at times? (And yes, when I did hear that, I burst out laughing and had to flash back to "young Heather" starting at that gifts assessment in dismay.) Because God can do what we are unable (or unwilling) to do under our own power.

Only He can take a stingy Scrooge-like heart and make it beat for those who suffer and go without. Only He can compel an entitled adolescent to step outside of her small world and start the process of truly "seeing" others and their needs. Only He can make giving away what we think of as "mine" a joyous experience as we share with others that which He has shared with us...and see it for what it is....all "His."

That's the God I serve and love. That's the God that I want to bless with my heart of giving -- the very heart He gave to me!

I am so excited to take these 13 lessons and continue to build them into our family's heritage. But this one will always be my favorite. My fervent wish is that we would dump this debt and set on a path of financial peace and good stewardship.

But more than that, I want to be debt-free so that I can give. I look forward to the day when I can overhear a young mother talk about not being able to pay her rent for the month and slip her an envelope with enough money to cover several months. I can't wait to see the faces of children that I hope to doorbell ditch presents to one Christmas -- the really great extravagant kind. I will jump for joy when I can return to Tanzania and make a significant investment in the lives of those people whose faces I still see in my dreams.

As Ramsey says, "We live like no one else, so later we can give like no one else."

Achieving "financial peace" will never happen until we understand where our peace is found. At the close of the session last night, Ramsey shared with us that the root of the word, "blessing," comes from the word, "peace."

This life is not about me.

It's not about you.

It's about Him....and receiving His blessing and passing it on to others.

I, for one, feel blessed.....to give.


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To read more about our journey to financial peace, read related posts here:
http://www.mosaicmomma.net/p/finding-financial-peace.html

For more info on Financial Peace, visit:
http://www.daveramsey.com/fpu/preview/


If you are looking to take your own FPU class, you can sign up online and if you want to take the one that my husband and I are going to facilitate in January, go here!


For info on Inzolo -- an online and mobile "envelope system," tool, visit:
www.inzolo.com

For more info on The Blessed Life, visit:
http://theblessedlife.com/

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