Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 8, 2008
Sage advice for tough economic times
Ditch debt, live simply, give 10 per cent away, says stewardship guru
BY VIRGINIA BATTISTE
“Society tells us our identity is based on what we have, not on who we are."
Potvin said to always remember that God owns everything and that Christians can succeed when they see themselves as managing what God has provided.
Charitable giving, whether to the Church or other charitable organizations, is to be paid first, not from what is left over, he said.
A faith-based approach to money management is necessary in our current culture, he said. Even in today’s tight economy the principle of recognizing that God owns it all, and, as Christians, we are only stewards of what we have, makes good sense.
Potvin said believers should establish a basic percentage for charitable giving, and begin to give on a regular basis, off the top. He likened it to the “first fruits” talked about in the Bible, where the Israelites were commanded by God to give the best of their crops, flocks and herds, to him first, not what was left over.
Potvin acknowledges that letting go of the need to possess things is extremely difficult in our society.
“Society tells us our identity is based on what we have, not on who we are. Our feeling of being in control is found in our bank account, or our job, or our big house. If we lose those, we don’t know who we are.”
He adds that as a society, people are not sharing as much as they could. But, more than the issue of sharing is the question of how the endless pursuit of stuff is affecting our lives. As a society, there is an affliction called “affluenza.”
Potvin describes it as a social disease caused by consumerism, commercialism and rampant materialism.
Citing statistics, he says for every dollar earned, most Canadians spend $1.32, or one third more than they actually earn.
In Calgary for the year of his data, the average annual income was just over $97,000, while the average per household charitable donation for Calgarians was $338 per year, he noted.
He points out that 10 per cent of those who give contribute 80 per cent of all donations. So, while some people are very generous, others are not. He adds that the more generous a person is, the more they look like God.
As with all financial planners, Potvin recommends drawing up a financial plan, and working the plan, to control the flow of money, instead of having the money control you. He provided basic worksheets to develop a plan to bring spending into line with income and to factor in giving.
He suggests a 10-10-80 program, which means giving 10 per cent, saving 10 per cent and living on the remaining 80 per cent. To put giving first ultimately requires a new way of seeing things, and a major shift to trusting God in all things, even money.
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