153: A Fisherman's Tale of Why God and Money Mix

153 - the number of scaly silverbacks those bone-wet, exhausted nighttime disciple-anglers hauled in when the resurrected Jesus told them to cast on the right side of the boat, following a deplorable night of getting skunked. They'd caught nothing until this point.

Sometimes I'll hear people say ill-informed, un-biblical, theologically juvenile (you see where I stand on this) things like, "God and money don't mix," or, "God doesn't care about money." I've now edited my response down to one number, and then I walk away: 153.

153 - someone took the time to count this massive haul of fish. Perhaps the accountant-type among the disciples watched as each fish was transferred from the net into another pile. This makes you wonder whether they really discerned the true astonishment in their midst: the risen Son of God stood overlooking this arithmetic. Who counts fish when your recently-crucified Lord comes around? Or, as Duncan so aptly points out in The River Why, perhaps the all-curious Jesus counted them himself as they gathered around him in adoration; the number mattered to Jesus because it mattered to his disciples.

We don't know who counted what, but we know for sure that there were 153 fish, that the net did not break (Made in Jerusalem), and that they were sure happy that Jesus had a few fish already on the grill when they rowed their way to shore to do the counting of the miraculous catch.

So, when you wonder whether God and money mix, or whether God cares about money, remember 153, realizing that the simple numbers of life such as money matters matter to God because they matter to us. And, if what you're doing now with your finances isn't working, perhaps try the other side of the boat, or put clearer, seek direction from the words of Jesus.

Understand Your Money Mindset

I coach Little League baseball, and one seven-year-old continually asks me why he must do whatever I'm asking him. "Hey, Junior, move over to the left," I said. "Why?" he inquired. "Because I said so," I barked. He looked at me and asked, "Okay, so what's the baseball reason?"

After I filtered everything I wanted to say, I realized that it actually was a good question. Sure, he needs to shut up and move (I don't have time to explain everything between plays), but if he doesn't understand why he's doing what he's doing, then he won't grow.

Most teachings on money focus on what you should do: save more, spend less, get a budget, and so on - all good. But stewardship, which is our true vocation as humans, is also about getting in touch with why we do what we do.

There are seven money mindsets that influence how you handle money, seven money types, if you will. And, seven biblical characters embody or depict these seven mindsets:

Abraham - Hospitality: This type loves to use money to make others feel special or noticed.

Isaac - Discipline: Seeks to maximize every dollar.

Jacob - Beauty: Uses money to create beautiful/pleasurable experiences or purchases.

Joseph - Connection: Money is a tool to forge relationships and connections.

Moses - Endurance: Money should be carefully organized.

Aaron - Humility: Money is a tool to serve those in need.

David - Leadership: Money creates new futures and builds a legacy.

Understanding your money mindset helps you realize that, whether you have much money or very little, you can use it in a way that brings you joy and that brings God glory. Discerning the money mindset of those around you may help diffuse financial tension.

When you understand your money mindset, you're better positioned to change unwanted behaviors and emotions. To discover your money mindset, take the quiz.

Awareness Not Amounts

A rich guy is turned away because he will not sell everything he has and give it to the poor.

A servant is chastised for not turning a few bucks into a pile of cash.

A poor widow is commended for giving a cent - all she has - into a defunct religious system.

A woman pours expensive perfume on Jesus’s feet; Judas interjects; Jesus allows.

A couple claim more generosity than is true; God kills them.

If you’re looking for a rule to follow when it comes to following Jesus with your finances, stop now, because you’ll only get confused. Instead, here’s a principle:

When it comes to stewardship, it’s not about amounts, but awareness.

Neither your 10% gift, your Sunday offering tip, nor giving it all away satisfies a spiritual stewardship quota that allows you to stop discerning how the Spirit, today and every day, is leading you to love God with all your heart, mind, and strength—which includes your finances.

For more on how you are naturally inclined to love God and others with your finances, consider checking out The Seven Money Types: Discover How God Wired You to Handle Money.

Lower Your Expectations

I once had a girlfriend who told me I often disappointed her. I finally told her, “Lower your expectations or get another boyfriend.” I ended up making that decision for her - best move I ever made. She wanted a hero; I was just a steady, unimpressive, hardworking young man.

When it comes to growth, whether your goal is improved financial health, physical exercise, or spiritual matters, lower your expectations and shrink your goals. How’s that for motivation? Seriously, so many are stuck because they have Hero Syndrome; they won’t do something small because it’s not impressive enough, whether by their own standards or another’s standards they’ve imposed upon themselves. Lower your expectations and shrink your goals. When you get going, then start thinking bigger. Take small, consistent steps in the general direction of your intention, and let it be enough. Be proud of that. Soon, you’ll look back and see how far you’ve come.

Dust and Deity

In three days The Seven Money Types enters the world. It's been simmering for ten years.

My heart is calm; my soul is still. All is well, even though many challenges surround me.

As I reflect on what matters in life, it's not success, or notoriety, but you. 

Your life is a word from heaven.

And, I hear God in your story:

Through the Abraham types who use money to demonstrate God's hospitality. 

Through the Isaac types who use money to reveal God's discipline.

In Jacob types who use money to bring about beauty.

When Joseph types use money to make connections.

Through Moses types who reveal God's endurance through orderly finances.

When Aaron types reveal God's humility through how they use money.

And, through David types who lead the way financially.

Your life is a word from Heaven. The way you handle money reminds us of God's love.

Or, at least it can. 

These are The Seven Money Types, and together they reveal the image of God, the image of what is possible when our intentions and imaginations align with our soul's deepest desire.

This is the story I'm called to tell - the way God designed us plays out in how we handle money in one of seven ways, and how we handle money is meant to reveal something of God.

You know the story: We're made from dust and deity. Our relationship to resources is inextricably linked to our relationship to God. 

This is what it means to be God-imaged - to properly relate to the resources of creation and the Creator.

Three days until this word enters the world. And my heart is calm. I'm grateful.