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Friday, January 30, 2015

A Wise Manager Will Look Ahead

In review of Proverbs 14:8 it says, “The wise man looks ahead. The fool attempts to fool himself and won’t face facts.”

Bottom Line:
When it comes to money, a wise man will understand where they are going. A foolish person will think they know best and won’t face the facts.

What this means to me:
I would be wise to look and plan ahead getting counsel when needed, so that I can understand where I’m going. It would be foolish for me to ignore the facts or think that I know best, because I’d only be deceiving myself.

What I’m learning is that money is a tool to be used for God’s purposes. I am not to hoard it or stockpile it. I’m certainly not to worship it or rely on it. I’m to use it! I’m to use the temporary resources of what God has put in my hands, for permanent good.

The story of the dishonest but shrewd manager is told in Luke 16:1-13. Interestingly enough, in this story Jesus made this shrewd manager the hero of the story. This manager knew he was going to be fired, so he decided to make some friends by lowering the debts owed to his master.

While he was dishonest, he did three things that are worth adopting. They are lessons I can learn and apply to my own finances.

First, the manager looked ahead. Like most people I may not always look ahead when it comes to finances. This is especially true when things are going well. Here’s an interesting statistic: The average savings in Europe is about 12 percent of income, and in Japan it’s about 25 percent. The average savings Americans had last year was minus one percent. American’s spent one percent more than they made! That kind of math does not add up correctly. They are not saving anything, and that’s not really smart. Proverbs 14:8 reminds me, “The wise man looks ahead. The fool attempts to fool himself and won’t face facts” (TLB).

Secondly, the manager made a plan. A plan or a budget, is simply planned spending. It’s a plan telling my money where I want it to go rather than wondering where it went. This verse reminds me that a wise person will have a plan. The Bible says in Proverbs 16:9, “We should make plans — counting on God to direct us.”

Lastly, the manager acted quickly. Luke 16:4 explains the managers action, “I know how to ensure that I’ll have plenty of friends who will give me a home when I am fired” (NLT). The manager didn't procrastinate; he didn't delay. He set his plan in motion. He didn't say, “Someday I’m going to get my finances in order” or “Someday I’m going to start saving for retirement.”

In this passage, Jesus was not commending the manager’s dishonesty but rather his attitude, which says, “I’m going to think ahead. I’m going to make a plan. And I’m going to invest in relationships that will benefit others and me in the future.

That’s an example of being smart! Jesus wants me to do the same when it comes to my finances. So today I need to consider; am I spending my treasure here on Earth or looking ahead and storing it up in Heaven?

This passage also reminds me that I only loosely have a plan for spending. I really need to do a better job of planning the spending and accounting for it. It should reflect the right priorities; investing in the future in Heaven. One worthy goal would be to become debt free. This would be including owning and not mortgaging my next home for a long period of time, and paying off my newly acquired student debt quickly.

Unfortunately, I’m the king of procrastination. It’s what comes naturally to me if I don’t purposefully plan. When things are going well, I procrastinate even more regarding finances. I need to be a better steward of the resources God has granted me.

In today’s study, I realized that I have been focusing on planning and finances; however these same three principles are applicable for anything that I manage.  To manage anything effectively, I need to look ahead, create a plan and then act quickly to put it into place.