A Bodey in Motion

Building momentum, one step at a time

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The number one cause of flat tires in my household? Nails jammed in the tread.

I’m really bad about driving the tires on my car until they are as bald as the head of Charles Xavier. I know it’s generally unsafe to do, but I hate having to replace stuff before I’ve used it through it’s full potential (and then some). I’m kind of cheap that way.

That having been said, you can imagine how frustrated I get when I walk out to my car and find a flat tire. What a pain in the butt. That’s never a good thing.

Of course, it used to be worse. Back before we took control of our finances, a flat tire meant the added joy of money stress. Would they be able to fix the leak, or would we have to replace the tire? Where would the money come for that? Did we have enough cash or are we going to put it on the credit card and pay it off with interest over the next three months? More often than not, it’d go on the card.

There’s no money stress today, though. No credit card, either.

So, what changed?

Hint: it wasn’t a bigger salary. I learned a long time ago that you can’t out-earn stupid behavior.

No, the difference is that today we have a plan. We save for car maintenance, like flat tires. We save for a lot of things, and we do that because we have important things we want to do with our money. We want to save for the future and we want to give generously. Not tying up our money with payments, paying back interest on unforeseen purchases, allows us to do those things with consistency.

In other words, we went from reacting with money to being proactive. We stopped letting our money problems happen to us, and instead began happening to our money.

Reactive people are driven by feelings, by circumstances, by conditions, by their environment. Proactive people are driven by values-carefully thought about, selected and internalized values.

Stephen Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

This is true for a lot of things in our lives. Whenever we let external factors control us, we abdicate responsibility for the results of those decisions. For example, if we forgo regular rest in a vain attempt to maximize our time and get everything done that we “should be doing” then we’re giving power over our health and productivity to that list that we feel the world has placed on us. Ultimately, however, the consequences of the failure to act upon our time (or money, or tires, etc.) with wisdom and maturity falls directly on us.

Until a person can say deeply and honestly, “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,” that person cannot say, “I choose otherwise.”

Stephen Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

If there is an area of your life that been out of control, then you need to start to act upon it. Seek out help and advice if you need to, but take control back. Stop reacting. It’s time to go pro.

July 30, 2012 Posted by | Past and Future, Work and Money | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Go Pro

Quick Hits of the Week

Live from my Nashville hotel room, here are this week’s Quick Hits:

  • I am terrible about staying on top of my email. My inbox is constantly full of dated messages that I would love to read, but I just don’t have the time or energy to do so. A lot of what I’m keeping is junk. Clearing your inbox every day, or achieving Inbox Zero, is a worthy goal, though. There is a lot of advice out there for how to do it, but I think Michael Hyatt’s suggestions are some of the best.
  • Before I get too far into this thought, let me be clear that I do love my country. I love the freedoms that it was founded on and the rights that we enjoy and continue to fight for here. That being said, it’s important to recognize that we don’t have it all together. Really. I think our country could be compared to a young boy moving into adolescence. We tend to think too much about ourselves. We’re overly fascinated with sex and violence. We worry about stupid things, and we think countries older than us just don’t understand. I think Mark Manson’s list of 10 things most Americans don’t know about America is generally good advice (especially points 4, 7, 8, and 10). Now, that doesn’t mean I want this young country to grow up to be any other nation than itself, but I am sure that we can stand on our principles as we continue to grow into national maturity.
  • Speaking of freedom and maturity, while I support our military servicemen to be free to enjoy whichever form of entertainment they find engages them, I can’t see this as a mature choice.
  • If you’re trying to convince another person to consider what you say, then you’re trying to influence them. We want to influence people when we’re sharing a part of our life that we feel passionate about. Maybe we’re trying to promote our ideas, products or services. Or maybe we just want them to go see that great movie that we just saw. Either way, we all want to be able to influence people better, and Brian Tracy has five common mistakes we should avoid when doing so.

Is there something valuable or important or cool or funny or weird or awesome out there I missed this week? I can’t hit it all, but you should let me know about it by dropping me a line or sharing it in the comments below! I’d appreciate the heads up.

July 26, 2012 Posted by | Quick Hits and Links | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Quick Hits of the Week

Nashville is a Groovy Little Town

I’m spending this week away from home, soaking up some of the lovely Tennessee atmosphere and charm.

Before we go any further, though, I’d like everyone to take a moment and say a quick prayer for my family. I don’t like spending so much time away from them. I know they’ll be fine. I also know that they mean the world to me and that prayer works.

So, what’s so important that I’d fly over halfway across the country and separate myself from those that I am so blessed to be loved by?

This guy.

Specifically, I’m going to spend a week going through Dave Ramsey’s Counselor Training. I wanted to become better at helping people who are having money troubles, and the pieces all neatly fell into place for me to attend, so here I am. Based on all of the introductory material, they’re going to cover a lot of information, which means it will be a bit like taking a sip from a fire hose. At least it won’t be boring.

I don’t think there is going to be any sight-seeing this time around. I would love to see more of Nashville, but I need to take the time to rest so I can absorb what I’m here to learn. I’m hoping to briefly see Dave doing his radio show, since I’ll be right there. (No ‘Debt-Free Scream’ for me, though. The house isn’t paid off yet.) I’m sure that we’ll bring the family back to Nashville another time.

I am sure that I’ll have more to share once the week is over, but right now. I need to get a little more rest before the first day of training. A late night flight plus a touch of jet lag is making for a rough morning.

If you could have the answer to one money question, what would it be?

July 24, 2012 Posted by | Marriage and Family, Past and Future, Work and Money | 5 Comments

Are You Growing?

Two weeks ago I started digging into chapter 25 of the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew 25 is broken up into three sections:

  • The Parable of the Ten Virgins (v.1-13)
  • The Parable of the Talents (v.14-30)
  • The Final Judgement (v.31-46)

Each one of these is a description of what it will ostensibly be like when Christ returns, especially in regard to those who claim to love and follow him. They also supply the reader with some direct application, i.e. what loving and following Jesus should look like every day. In my opinion, these messages interleave and build on one another, and together they paint a pretty clear picture of how, as a Christian, we should approach and handle our resources.

Last time I covered the Parable of the Ten Virgins. This time I want to go over the Parable of the Talents.

Adam, God's first asset manager. He seems pretty laid back about it.

The Parable of the Talents is pretty well known. I think I first heard it in Sunday School classes when I was growing up, when teachers would use it as a way to encourage us to use our God-given skills and abilities (talents) rather than hiding them. While that’s a useful reading, my interpretation of what was meant has broadened with age and experience, and I tend to spend more time thinking about the two who did rather than the one who didn’t.

Before we get too far, though, here’s what you’ve all been waiting for. A quick paraphrase of the parable.

A man, preparing for a long trip, got three of his servants together and gave each of them a portion of his fortune to watch over, depending on what he thought they could manage. Then he left.

The one with the largest share immediately went to trade and invest what he had been given, eventually doubling its value. The one given a medium share did the same, but the one with the smallest share hid what he had been given.

After a long time, the man returned and each servant settled up with him. The one given the largest share showed him how his fortune had grown, and the man commended him, and increased his responsibility. The one given the medium share did the same, and received similar praise.

The one given the smallest share returned to the man exactly what had been given to him in good condition (albeit a bit dusty from the time hidden away). The servant let the man know that he had feared the man and only wanted to safely return what he had been given. However, the man was disappointed with the servant’s laziness, and pointed out that by putting his share in the bank, the servant could have returned his share with at least a little interest.

The man gave the small share to the first servant to manage, and had the last servant thrown out.

Matthew 25:14-30 BPV (Bodey Paraphrased Version)

As you can see, while my Sunday School teachers tried to make this about our skills and abilities, the actual text of the parable is all about money. What does that mean for each of us? Should we be growing our wealth, or should we be improving our skills?

The answer, of course, is both. Plus so much more.

For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.

Matthew 25:14-15 ESV

Here’s the deal: Everything we have was given to us by God. Everything. Not just our skills and talents, but our money, time, homes, cars, relationships, etcetera and ad nauseam. If it’s in our circle of influence, it was placed there by God for us to manage.

The religious sounding word for that is stewardship.

Sometimes we choose to forget that. We want to treat everything like it’s all ours, and forget who the actual owner is. We let it things sit and stagnate (or worse) and forget that the owner will come to settle the accounts someday. We forget that we’re just managers.

We do it with our money. We don’t live on less than we make. We go into debt because we think that God isn’t providing us with enough to have what we need. We’re not generous.

We do it with our homes. We hide in them. We use their walls to block out the world around us. We’re not open or gracious.

We do it with our families. Is your spouse a better person for having you in their life? What about your children? How quickly do you shut them out when it gets too stressful or painful? We’re not kind, or gentle, or patient.

In each area that we reject our responsibility to manage and grow what we’ve been given, we’re robbing God. We’re enjoying the fruits of what we have without considering the purpose for which those things have been given to us. And the more we reject that responsibility, the less ready we are to serve him. (See, they really do build together.)

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

Matthew 25:21 ESV

This parable is not advocating a prosperity gospel. I do not believe, for example, that if you are faithful and manage your money well, that you will automatically grow incredibly wealthy. It won’t hurt, mind you, but that’s not necessarily God’s plan for your life. Plus, being faithful doesn’t mean more stuff. It means more responsibility, and that’s not always easy.

Yet, that’s the whole point. Being faithful with our resources, managing and growing what we are given, isn’t easy, but doing so makes us able to be faithful with more. It prepares us to readily serve. It means we’re growing more and more into the follower of Christ that we should be. Otherwise, we’re just hiding.

When I look at this parable and the one like it in Luke 19:11-27, it seems pretty clear that Jesus repeated the same sermons, or at least covered the same themes, over and over in his three year ministry. What do you think?

[image from the public domain]

July 23, 2012 Posted by | Christ and Church, Marriage and Family, Past and Future, Work and Money | 1 Comment