I have had the privilege of being the founding leader of two nonprofit organizations, one for-profit company, and the employee for several multi-million dollar organizations. I also run the finances for my family. As I have ebbed and flowed in these different financial environments I have recognized both the differences and similarities of how money grows, is invested, or even wasted via expenses. Interestingly enough the mindset and perspective in each leadership arena can be very different, despite the similar goal of all to have more money at the end of the year than the beginning.
Here are some gleanings that apply specifically to senior pastors who are striving to become breakthrough financial leaders.
- MODEL the priorities of the president of a nonprofit organization. The NPO leader has three very clear objectives: keep the vision clear, deliver on the vision, and develop resources toward the vision. No one can develop large amounts of resources for a NPO like the senior leader. The truth is that most employees would never have it cross their minds to help with this effort. They are busy executing their department tasks. Whenever I find a senior pastor that is both the lead giver and the lead developer of gifts, I find a church that is experiencing financial breakthrough. People actually want to give. God made giving fun. Lean into and help people achieve God’s generosity dreams for their lives.
- FOCUS on the bottom line like a founder of a for-profit company. The founder and owner of a for-profit company wakes up each week with one objective in mind, produce more revenue than expenses. As the owner of a company you measure success by happy clients and positive cash flow. Every single expense is seen as either an investment where the owner is willing to take a temporary pay reduction in exchange for a bigger gain or it is seen as wasted money. I know the success of the church is not measured by dollars, but discipleship. However, I also know it is sin to mismanage God’s resources. Being a wise steward, which is the call of God, involves both discipling generosity and being tenaciously obedient with the resources. Senior leaders, do you know the eternal value of each dollar your organization raises and expends? If you are not monitoring this, I promise no one else is, and you probably have waste or worse sin.
- RELEASE passion that comes from being the provider in the home. Most men wake up driven to succeed financially, provide well for their families, and enjoy the fruit of their labors. Great men care for the provision and protection of their homes. As a matter of fact, it is intuitively engrained in the DNA of men. Senior pastors have the power alone to set the financial tone for their churches. It can either be set up to enjoy success or continually struggle with financial pressure. Church budgets are 100% man made. We can often set them up to extend our financial resources beyond our giving history. Then they can become a binding law over our decisions resulting in unenjoyable feelings. You can also set up your budget process and financial practices to experience favor and freedom. Example, most families would not raise their annual family budget 5-10% then ask their family to have vision and pray for growth. Yet, the average church practices this kind of principle every year. What if you capped your annual budget at 2% less than previous year’s receipts for the next five years? You would develop at least a 10% margin which totally transforms financial culture.
- GAIN confidence that comes from Scripture. God’s word is very practical, specific, inspiring, and replete with financial wisdom. I find that breakthrough financial leaders have a high view and breadth of knowledge regarding the Bible’s principles of generosity. Even if they lack a financial skill set, if they know Scripture they experience overflow. Ron Blue likes to say that God’s word regarding finances is timeless, true, and transcendent. It always works regardless of how old we are or how much money we have. Learning to lead church finances from a foundation of belief verses budget or need is powerful. God’s confidence overcomes all challenges, concerns, and obstacles. A pastor will never go wrong when he leads with scripture, especially when it comes to money.
Pastor, your church can experience financial overflow every year. This largely depends on how it is led by you and your team. Whether your church is large or small, rich or poor, young or old, modern or traditional. God’s plan for money is the same, doable by all.