Friday, February 5, 2016

Living generously isn’t about how much you have to give

Part 2 of An interview with Brad Hewitt,
Author of Your New Money Mindset

As Christians, most of us would like to be more generous. We’d like to give more to the church, ministries and charities that do good. However, often times we feel there’s not room in the budget to give more.

Giving generously isn’t necessarily about how much we give, it’s our attitude towards giving. The ultimate goal for readers of Your New Money Mindset (Tyndale House Publishers) is to cultivate what author Brad Hewitt calls a surplus mindset, where individuals truly believe they have enough for themselves and enough to share. He adds, “We believe if people — especially Christians — could have a healthier relationship with money, it would change the world. People can be free from the slavery of a consumer culture, enabling them to live openheartedly with their time, energy and finances.”

Regardless of their current financial situation, all readers are invited to journey toward transforming their relationship with money by remaking their heart.

Breaking away from the regular mold of financial books, Your New Money Mindset:
  • Defies the consumerism that infects our culture and sickens people’s hearts.
  • Shows readers how to approach the tension they feel about money so they can experience greater contentment and peace.
  • Guides readers to live generously with their time, energy and paychecks.
  • Provides an online assessment tool to help determine attitudes toward finances.

Q: What are the five money mindsets you cover in the book? Which is the best mindset to have?

In Your New Money Mindset, we have identified five distinct attitudes people hold toward money and to all that they have and own. These “money mindsets” describe how people think and feel about their financial well-being — or lack of it. Since each category begins with the letter S, we call these the “5Ss.”  The five attitudes on the spectrum range from unhealthy to healthy: surviving, struggling, stable, secure and surplus. We believe the healthiest place to be is in a surplus mindset, which can bring deep peace and freedom. It means deciding “we have enough for ourselves and enough to share.”

Before we talk about each S, we share this truth: the health of your relationship with money is not determined by how much money you have or don’t have. Most people believe that the more money they earn or otherwise possess, the healthier their relationship with money will be. That is an illusion. Put succinctly, you can have a high income yet struggle, or you can have a modest income yet thrive.

Q: Have you ever struggled with one of the negative mindsets? If so, how did you overcome it?

I struggle every day, so I must focus on the practices of gratitude, generosity, prayer and Christian community.

Years ago we purchased a fractional ownership in a Colorado townhouse, which grants us two weeks of winter access. All year long I look forward to basking in the Rocky Mountain grandeur. I count on it to sweep me into God’s presence and renew an appreciation of all his good gifts. But even as those wonders fill me, they can also put my heart into a frenzy faster than I like to admit. One minute I’m thanking God for his blessings. The next I’m gawking at a new row of bigger and better vacation homes and thinking, I want one. To be clear, I don’t need one. Coming back to the familiar townhouse always feels like a lavish blessing. By any measure we already have more than enough. Nevertheless, my gratitude can quickly be displaced by a longing for more. At the moment those misguided desires well up inside me, I face a choice. I can continue to stare at the thing I want. I can obsess over it all the way home. I can calculate what a fancy new place costs. I can loudly convince myself and my family I need it. Or I can act to break that cycle.

We break our persistent desire for more when we choose to live generously. I’m not talking about an occasional act of benevolence. The solution to my yearning for a bigger and better place isn’t to ski to the bottom of the hill and write a one-time check to a worthy cause. The long-term fix is cultivating a day-by-day pattern of openhearted giving. It’s pursuing a way of life that puts a happy generosity first.

Q: Why do so many people view financial surplus as an indication of God’s blessing? Is that view always accurate?

I don’t know why so many people do, but this idea is not accurate at all. God regularly declares the poor as blessed. Material blessings have nothing to do with God’s love or grace. Research shows that as people live godly, generous lives, the result is often financial success. However, I do not believe this is an indication of God’s blessing, but merely how the world was created to work.

Q: Many people feel they aren’t financially secure enough to share generously. How critical is tithing to a Christian’s financial plans?

Tithing is important because it reframes our financial worldview from a scarcity mentality of relying on money for our security to an abundance mentality of relying on God. When we do this, we actually feel more financially secure.

Tithing allows us to express our faithfulness even with little so we can build our character to be faithful and entrusted with much. When we tithe, we acknowledge we are stewards of what God has provided us. Tithing isn’t an “ought to” or a “have to,” it’s a “get to.”

We live in a world where we are bombarded by messages of consumerism and fear. This is part of the reason why establishing a healthy relationship with money is important. If we allow messages contrary to God’s Word to guide our relationship with money, we will never believe we have enough to live joyful, generous lives. A recent Thrivent Financial survey of 1000 American Christians found that 42 percent said their top obstacle to giving is that they can’t afford to give, and 62 percent of Christians felt they’d need to make $5,000 or more a year than they already do to donate more. However, our research tells a different story and has shown that when we make more money, we usually don’t give more, even if we had planned to.

Q: What did Jesus’ words and actions say about what it means to live generously?

Jesus makes money a crucial topic. It’s impossible to miss in Scripture how often he talks about our unhealthy relationship with money and how easily we make money an idol that usurps more important things. Jesus aims to lead us to life abundant, generous and content.

One of the pivotal passages in the book is Proverbs 11:24, which says, “The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.”

Q: What is the Money Mindset Assessment, and what will it help readers discover?

Because real change starts within us, we need to remake our hearts in order for new habits fully to take hold. It is often difficult, however, to have an objective view of what goes on inside us. To help us get an accurate view we worked with Thrivent’s research and analysis team to develop the New Money Mindset Assessment ™, a 48-item tool to give you insights into your own thinking. The assessment is a free online tool at www.newmoneymindset.com. The tool takes about 10 minutes to complete. The self-assessment isn’t about how much money you have or don’t have, but about how you perceive your relationship with money. Thrivent’s research team created this self-assessment specifically to help you discover your money mindset strengths as well as opportunities for growth.

Learn more about Your New Money Mindset
and Brad Hewitt at www.newmoneymindset.com.


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