In 2008 when the economy took a dive which affected almost everyone. Churches especially were hit hard at that time forcing congregations to layoff staff and cut benefits in order to stay within budgets that were being dramatically decreased. It was at exactly this time that I had been promoted to the executive pastor position that included overseeing the finances for 3 months until we could hopefully hire a business administrator to help navigate the storms of an uncertain economy.
Those 3 months were some of the most challenging months I’ve ever experienced in leadership. I’m not a financial genius but you only had to be able to balance a check book to know that we were headed towards a financial crisis if we didn’t take immediate action. For 3 months all we could pay was our church mortgage, utilities and salary, nothing else. Things were at a standstill and I knew we were in trouble.
It’s in these moments that we cry out for “more” and ask God to “increase” our finances and I did, but in this process I also stumbled upon a valuable principle I call the power of less. In the midst of the crisis I saw coming, I experienced that allowing the pain of less to take it’s course; we would experience the power of less that I didn’t see coming.
Less is our responsibility. Less is something within our power that we can control and in fact is a way we can begin to partner with God in living an abundant life. Wait a minute! Did I just use the word less and abundant in the same sentence? Yes, I did let me explain. The power of less does not leave one powerless. When I purposefully decrease, God can increase in anyway and every way. In other words, less allows me to be loosed from my need and opens the door to God to give me exactly what I need.
You see the answer is not always more money. More comes in many different forms and it’s not always in the form of green paper with President’s faces on it. When we are in bondage to our need for more, we can easily overlook what God is trying to do through less. Here is the powerful principles I discovered through less.
Less Leads to Ownership – I didn’t blame our situation on someone else , I took responsibility to make the corrections we needed to make. As a staff we actually were led to a place of repentance for not being prepared for the economic storm and this changed everything. There were tears, petitions of forgiveness, but there was also an ownership by our team that unified us in a critical moment. This is what learned; less gives me the opportunity to own something.
Less Leads to Look to Beyond Money – Your most valuable resource is people not money. In the situation we were in, we had no money, but I knew we had people that could help us. I called a young man that oversaw the budget for a nearby county that attended our church. Surely if he could budget for a county, he could help set a strategic budget for our church. It was amazing watching him take charge. He not only corrected our course he projected a budget that would eventually get us through the strained economy.
Less Gives God an Opportunity to Do Above and Beyond – I firmly believe that when we do our part, God does his. As we approached the end of the year it was going to be the first time in the history of the church that we finished in the red. We did all we could, the only thing left to do was to trust God. A retired accountant that I also asked to advise us, said something profound that I will never forget as we sat an looked at the final budget of that year. He said, “This is what I know, what God orders He pays for!” He went on to tell a faith building story about how God provided carpet for a church he attended. We were all encouraged, but still disappointed that we wouldn’t finish in the black. The next day our Senior Pastor got a call from a successful business man who no longer attended the church but wanted to bless the church with a year end gift for teaching him how to tithe and put God first in his finances. The check was for $75,000 which would take us into the black to wrap up the year!!!
Less will lead you to place to do only what you can do and allows God to do what only He can do!
Less is powerful, not powerless!