Sunday, February 19, 2012

Giving. Saving. Trusting

Save 10%. Give 10%. Live within your means. Trust God with the rest. This was my dad’s sage advice for me when I got my first job. Regardless of economic means, whether plenty or little, learning to save and give was the best financial wisdom he could offer me. But, these were not just words of advice, Dad lived out this principle and over the years, I was able to see the fruit of his wisdom and discipline in this area.

My dad was a World War II vet who grew up during the Great Depression. When the war ended, he entered Moody Bible Institute to begin his pastoral training. Along the way, he met my mom; and upon graduation, they started their life of ministry together. For over 50 years, dad pastored small, rural churches that couldn’t pay him much. But Mom and Dad lived by the principles they learned about saving and giving.

In March of 2008, we moved my dad into an assisted living facility. My mom had passed away a few years earlier and since that time, he had been living on his own. Dad now needed some assistance in the everyday things of life. His new home provided personal care, good food, and no worries of falling or being alone. When he moved, my family entrusted me to manage his finances and pay his bills. As I began to dig into his financial paperwork, my biggest question was, “How much does he have stored away and how long will it last?” My sisters and I would struggle to afford the cost of long-term elder care, so this was an answer we all wanted to know. What I discovered was that we had nothing to be concerned with. He had saved plenty. Mom and Dad had planned well for the later years of life. How did they do this? Dad never earned more than $25,000 in a year.

But there was another interesting thing I discovered about his finances. He and mom had faithfully given to their church, to missionaries they personally knew and loved, and to organizations they felt worthy of their support. None of the gifts were large, but they were regular. My parents were giving out of the excess from their Social Security check. How could they have such financial peace in their final years? What was their secret? Save 10%. Give 10%. Live within your means. Trust God with the rest—even on a Social Security income.

When the stock market took the biggest dive since the Great Depression, a sense of anxiety gripped me as I looked at Dad’s portfolio report. Like most people, his savings took a hit. My stomach dropped as I realized we had lost over a full year of his care. “What if…” I asked myself. “What if this continues? What if he loses it all? How will we care for him?” As quickly as my worry consumed me, a voice of peace entered my soul. It was as if God was telling me, “Phil, I’ve always taken care of your dad. He’s been faithful. Why would I stop caring for him now?”

Save 10%. Give 10%. Live within your means. Trust God with the rest.

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