Saving for Short- and Long-Term Goals
Saving for short and long-term goals is most likely going to be a part of every pastor’s financial planning. The Bible is clear that saving is a wise practice (Prov. 6:6-8;13:11). However, the Bible also puts some pretty serious guardrails on our saving that we would be wise to consider. Savings has the very real danger of turning our hearts away from God as we will be tempted to put our trust in our savings instead of Him (Prov.11:28; Luke 12:13-21; Jas. 5:1-5). As a result, there is going to be a tension between the wisdom and dangers of saving. The great thing about this tension is that it drives us back to communing with God and seeking His wisdom.
Furthermore, we know that in our saving, the very best place to invest and save is in eternity. Anything we invest in other than God’s kingdom purposes will one day be lost to us. Keeping this reality and the tension between the wisdom and danger of saving in mind, let us consider five steps for determining how we should save for short- and long-term goals.
- Spend time with God. Spend some time in reflection and prayer to determine the things you believe God is leading you to save for (both short and long-term and for you and others). This could be things like new furniture, a car, a down payment on a house, education for kids or giving to a specific cause. Ask God the question, “What do you want me to be saving for?” Write down your impressions. Always consider your increased saving goals in light of your increased giving goals. These things should always be held up together and considered in light of what God is calling you into. What do you think God wants you to save for? What do you think God wants you to give to?
- Set specific targets. Take the things you have written down and set some specific targets (e.g. how much, by when, how often you’ll be trying to add to the total, etc.). All goals should be specific and measurable – you should know when you have reached your goal. This is where we consider that while the Bible does say it is wise to save, it’s also clear that all wise saving is for a specific purpose and for a specific period of time. There isn’t ever a time when you should be setting money aside without a God-given purpose in mind. What are your saving finish lines? What specifically are you trying to save for and how does that impact your relationship with God?
- Prioritize your goals. You can’t do it all at once. Pick the most important goals from steps one and two above and begin working towards those goals. Once you have made progress on your biggest priorities begin moving toward your other goals as well. Which goals is God asking you to prioritize today? How do these goals align with your overall financial picture?
- Implement your goals. Take small steps at first and then grow into taking bigger steps. Resolve to take something out of each paycheck to begin making progress. As you adjust to your new reality, try to save a little more, and then a little more, and so on. Before you know it, you will be making some real progress toward your God-given goals. Realize that you can’t do this on your own and so you need to seek some accountability. This could be your spouse, a friend, or a pastor. Saving is hard enough to do, don’t try to do it alone. Who is going to help you be accountable to your financial convictions and goals?
- Continue spending time with God. Keep asking God to give you a heart for your goals, but even more so a heart for His kingdom. In this continual practice of bringing it all before God, make sure to keep all of your savings available to God at all times. Just because He led you to save for something at one point doesn’t mean that He won’t direct you to take those funds and apply them to another purpose at another time. God may have been having you accumulate funds for something very different than what you envisioned. Be open, listen, be willing to take any saved funds and put them to work today whenever God leads you to do so. Your savings should never be untouchable. God may ask you to give away savings at any point. As stewards we should be ready to do it with great joy, grateful that He is using our meager resources as a part of His grand plan. How is God burdening your heart in the advancement of His Kingdom? Is He asking you to make any of your saved resources available to these ends?
To learn more about what the Bible says about saving and setting saving goals, see the following resources:
Blue, Michael (2020). Free to Follow: Discover the Riches of a Surrendered Life. Austin, TX: Thirsty Land Press.
Blue, Ron (2016). Master Your Money: A step-by-step plan for experiencing financial contentment. Chicago, IL: Moody.
Financial contributor: Michael Blue serves as the executive director and general counsel for The Ron Blue Institute for Financial Planning.
Executive editor: Russ Gunsalus
Curator of content: Dave Higle