A Romanian saying goes like this: ” Money do not bring happiness, but they sure help getting it”. In other words, people think that money influence their happiness and their wellbeing. It’s not my purpose here to prove that every culture has embraced this concept. You can see it yourself in your own culture.
For me it’s enough to look into the Bible, see how Jesus talks about money and realize that the way I handle money is a mirror for me. The way I handle money speak about who am I, about my values, about my fears. It doesn’t matter how much we have! Even one simple note in our hands whispers to me without words about my beliefs, about what I love and about what I’m afraid.
There is a lot of talk about money and I believe we should continue talk about it. Because if we use this mirror and understand it’s whispers, we can use money to mature in our faith, with the help of the Holy Spirit.
I would like to present two principles which should be present in our communities in order to grow and mature using this instrument: money.
The first principle has to do with the relationship between ministry money and personal money. I was visiting a church one day and after the church service a person approached me and gave me 200 Euro. He said: ” These money are for YOU”! The way I interpreted was that these money are for YOU, as in you – the project you presented. So, I added the 200 Euro to the project fund I presented in that church that morning. As I got home, I felt unsettled. We were crossing a very difficult year financially as a family. The thought that I might have interpreted wrongly, and the 200 Euro were intended literally for YOU – as in – you personally, kept bothering me. I had no possibility to contact this person and ask him directly which “YOU” he meant. So, the 200 Euro stayed in the project fund. Back then as a young leader I have one regret: I should have spoken more about money; about the different ways we can handle money. There are so many things we should shed light on regarding money. I wonder sometimes, why the politicians should declare their income and we don’t? I really don’t suggest that we should, don’t panic! :-)…. But what I suggest is that communicating about our finances we bring more transparency in this area and we can be spared from making mistakes. And really, being open about our financial mistakes it’s a sign of maturity and teaching opportunity for other. To create such an atmosphere in our communities, where we can speak openly about money, financial mistakes, repentance and applying God’s grace over, it’s priceless.
The second principle I would like to suggest is that: the person is more important than the financial system we have in place in our communities. Jesus didn’t die for a financial system, but He died for people. Actually, Jesus didn’t even suggested any financial system. I believe that we, in YWAM, many times we try to help people who go through financial problems. And this is a good thing. But really, what happens to our people financially it is not entirely their problem. Paul mentions that we should not “muzzle the mouth of oxen” …. (cannot find the scripture right now). We have to think of our financial practices in such a way so our people may do well financially. Because in the end God pays us. But our financial practices reveal what do we believe about Him and money. I will refer now to a situation here in Romania.
Maybe it is not applicable in all culture so you will have to find something that works in your own culture. When I start fundraising campaigns for different projects, I wish for my staff to find personal sponsors as well. So, I openly tell them: “if someone approaches you and gives YOU money, mentioning that they are for YOU, you should keep it for yourself”. What they can do better than what I did, is to ask for a phone number or email address of that person. And even if the person mentions that the money are for YOU as in YOUR project, I suggest that my staff should take the email address of that person and keep communication with him. And yes, it would be ok to invite this person in the future to contribute to personal projects/needs of that staff member. I’m very open with my staff when I receive personal money in the middle of a fundraising for a project. I wish to have miracle stories when we fundraise for a base project, as well as miracle stories for personal finances, in the same time. If people are important, our financial systems cannot consider only the needs of our bases. But our financial systems should have ways inbuild on how our staff finances can develop too.
I’ll give you another example which I have observed working in our YWAM schools. I’ve noticed that the western leaders would invite the speaker out to dinner on their personal money. When the young Romanian leaders were supposed to do the same, and extend hospitality to the speaker, they were not able to afford that. So, what we did was to add to the school budget an amount of money specifically designated to that purpose. This way the young leader was empowered to be able to extend hospitality to the speaker. If maturing our young leaders is important then we will adapt our financial systems to fit our vision, so in the end nobody leaves home with a bitter taste.
The way we handle money, as I said, tells us who we are and I would like to add, it tells who YWAM is. We should create ways through which our staff and leaders can mature through the financial experiences they have. Nobody is perfect. I made mistakes. But free communication and transparency creates the framework for those mistakes to be confessed and forgiven. Also creating financial systems that take into account developing people’s financial state not only the base financial state speak about the maturity of the leadership teams.
I do hope these thoughts were helpful for somebody in our YWAM communities.
Florin Mihaly is a YWAM leader, who was given the privilege to serve YWAM staff and local communities in two locations: Medias and Cluj. In Medias, was the YWAM Medias base leader for 11 years. After that, he moved to Cluj with his family and pioneered ELS Ministries (Empowering Leaders for Success Ministries). He has a compassionate heart for the needy, a desire to see young leaders launched and he is a permanent student into something new: philosophy, nutrition and the list is open for God to bring another subject into his attention. He is married to Laura and has two children (Sergiu, 16 and Andrei, 11)