Isn't it interesting how so many things come in threes? There are three aspects of God--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There are three parts of humans--body, mind, and soul. There are three stages of life--eternity past, eternity present, and eternity future. The Pauline epistles refer to a group of three as well; Paul writes of faith, hope, and charity. The Hebrew chronologist speaks of the inner court, the outer court, and the holy of holies. Even our government breaks down into three branches: the executive, the judicial, and the legislative, all three working together to form a system in which justice is served.
In my near 25 years of pastoring, I have discovered another cohesive triplet that is essential to the life traveler in order to be happy and successful. We can carry only a limited number of bags if we are to move efficiently and effectively to our desired destination. I believe there are three bags we should all carry: faith for the hard times; family for the fulfillment of intimate and interpersonal needs; and finances through which one acquires the luxury of options. Faith, family and finance--if you carry these three and not destroy one in the pursuit of another, nothing is impossible.
To achieve success, any sojourner needs to have those three bags and five concepts plotted out on a map to get to a destination expeditiously and securely. We need to locate our faith in the favor of God; identify our gifting; recognize the power of a plan; learn that giving is the cycle that releases more in our lives; and always have the knowledge that 10% of what we have is not ours--but belongs to God.
Faith in the Favor of God -- Favor will come to your life when you understand who God is and who you are, and when you find out your unique purpose in life in light of God's will. As a carrot placed in front of a horse causes him to gallop more swiftly, people with a dream before them run the race with tenacity because they are motivated by their goal.
Identify Your Calling -- God gives each of us unique gifts. It is our job to recognize, nurture, and utilize these gifts in order to live up to our full potential. Many people do not succeed because they have more appreciation for what God has given someone else than for their own resources and gifts. Many aspire to imitate greatness in others rather than excavate the greatness that is in them. You must identify your own gifts and then use them. Your plan to get wealth must include a willingness to do what you do best whether you are in the spotlight or behind the scenes, receive adequate compensation or are underpaid.
The Power of a Plan -- Many people fail to attain their financial goals because they have no plan. A plan takes all your dreams and talents and maximizes them by bringing structure to the concept. It must include setting a budget, living within your means, and planting some of your seed into savings and investments for a future harvest. But no plan, however well-thought-out, will work unless you work it. It must be put into action. It should be written out and must include specific actions and deadlines to fulfill those actions.
Giving Is the Cycle That Releases More -- The accumulation of wealth should never be the Christian's final goal. Wealth in the kingdom is not the end but the means to an end. Generosity is a spiritual investment principle that works. You don't have to give away everything you have and live like a pauper in order to be blessed--but generosity protects us from falling prey to the sin of serving money. Money is to serve, and you should serve God by using it according to His plan.
10% Is Not Yours but Belongs to God -- Paying the tithe to the work of the kingdom is key to breaking the temptation of hoarding, and key to releasing the blessings of God in our lives. Your tithe and other gifts may seem like a great sacrifice now, and you may not see a check in the mail on Monday to compensate for the money you placed in the offering plate on Sunday. But in due time, you will see His blessing.
Faith is the foundation of all we want to achieve. It acts as a compass, guiding us on our journey to ultimate fulfillment. It gives direction in a chaotic world and credence to that which is beyond human comprehension.
Family is the anchor, keeping us grounded, supporting us, and allowing us to stay focused. Our immediate family, our community, and our culture all play a part in shaping who we are and what we do. A healthy family sustains us while giving meaning to our endeavors.
Finally, and no less crucial, finance is the often misunderstood factor in the equation for success. It is the vessel that brings us to our destination--enabling us to go where we are meant to be. We need to remove the veil from this frequently neglected topic. Rather than ignore finance in our spiritual life, God has called on His people to prosper and to use financial resources to spread His message and accomplish their dreams.
My earnest prayer is to empower every man and woman by providing the tools that the Master Carpenter has given me to build a fortified house that will be undivided and to chart a course for unwavering success, thus accomplishing everything God has promised to you.