Looking back and looking forward.
That’s what I’m doing this week.
I look back because I believe God uses events and experiences to help us grow. You’ll learn by one of the following two means:
- From your mistakes
- From the mistakes of others
This means that, as a new year is quickly approaching, the more mistakes we can identify, the better opportunities we’ll have to make the necessary changes in our lives.
How to Conduct a Spiritual Financial Audit
Three Categories You’ll Need to Financially Audit: Heart, Giving, and Debt
When I go to the doctor, he wants to listen to my heart to be sure my ticker is ticking in a healthy sort of ticker way.
But, you’re also going to need to self-diagnose the condition of your heart.
For a moment, let’s assume that your heart produces your desires, motivations, passions, pursuits, and efforts.
In other words, when you work hard at something, it is because something in your heart desperately wants that thing.
Unfortunately, our heart can be blind to its true motive. It can be discovered by quiet self-reflection, but business inhibits us from doing a proper heart analysis.
- What are you dedicating your time towards?
- What are you thinking about in the quiet moments of the day?
- What is something God would ask you to give up if he were to test you? For Abraham, it was Isaac. For the rich ruler, it was money.
- What thing in your life would cause the greatest sorrow if you lost it?
Once you’ve answered those questions, you can begin to determine what your true heart desires. Is it God, or something else?
When I’ve thought back to differing stages of my life, I’ve discovered it’s been my wife, money, success, and business.
Book Homework Assignment: Read Counterfeit Gods. This is the best book to help challenge you to identify your false idols. I highly recommend this book as it helped me readjust and reprioritize many things in my life.
In many ways, giving is where the rubber meets the road. It is where you can see your true colors.
Depending on how you give, it may be difficult to calculate how much you’ve given. If you don’t know, that would be a healthy exercise. In our home, the only budget item we’re currently tracking right now is giving. (No, not to help us give less, but to keep us accountable to be sure we’re giving what we predetermined.)
- What items / categories did you spend more on than giving? Do you feel comfortable with those items being where they are?
- How did you feel when you were writing a check to give?
- Did your giving address any of the following areas – church ministry, the poor, or missionary work?
- If you were to get a raise of $10,000 this year, how would that impact your giving?
Once you’ve answered those questions, you can start to purpose in your heart how you want your giving to change and how you want it to remain the same in the upcoming year.
I will continue to recommend you consider a graduated tithe or another giving system to help you increase your giving.
Book Homework Assignment: I’d recommend Transforming Your Financial Diet, but that book of mine won’t be released until Jan or Feb. Until then, you should read Money, Possessions, and Eternity. Through this book, you’ll be able to be sure that you’re using your money for eternal, not just temporal purposes.
You’ve probably heard it said, “Give me your check book, and I’ll tell you where your heart is.”
I’d rather look at your debt.
The checkbook is how we spend money we have. Debt reveals an even more serious condition since we not only spend the money we have, but with debt we incur extra expenses and risk for items.
That means we must really, really, really want those things.
Debt may highlight materialism or a propensity towards financial self-indulgence.
- What items did you go into debt for this year?
- What is your debt to income ratio like? The larger your debt burden, the more obligations you’ll have to others.
- Did you reduce or increase your current debt load in 2011?
- How does your giving compare to your interest payments?
Book Homework Assignment: Get your hands on The Total Money Makeover. That book is the best tool to help you climb your way out of debt if you identify it as an issue in your life.