Our church is in the midst of an ambitious capital campaign to help purchase a new building as a second sight and make some renovations to our existing site. They are going about it in a very wise way, which is encouraging, because it's our church after all, not to mention my place of employment.
They have scheduled several smaller meetings for people to come and hear the vision and ask questions more in a town hall format than rolling the plan out to everyone at once. And they gave out a book to everyone called Generosity - a devotional with a biblical perspective of being generous in all aspects of life, not just financial giving, and a good amount of perspective on what best motivates any kind of giving.
While considering what our role in this campaign might be Dan and I reviewed our budget. I don't know how often people do this in general, but my experience is most people don't do it very often at all. And if enough time passes between audits, you might be in for a surprise when you start taking stock of it all again. I was.
I think there's no such thing as successful coasting. In fact, I think with the exception of a 60 second period on a bicycle, there's no such thing as coasting at all, let alone successfully! You're always either moving forward or lagging behind.
We do an exercise every once in awhile with our couples small group in which we ask everyone to break down their day on a pie chart. We approach it like a budget, keep track of every "time" receipt - how much time at work, commuting, eating, sleeping, watching T.V., on the computer, doing chores, homework, sporting events, etc. etc. till the whole day is accounted for - then we figure percentages of time spent in each activity in a typical day and ask everyone a few questions. Do they think anything worthwhile is altogether missing (i.e. time alone with a spouse, reading the Bible if that's a priority for them, exericising, etc.)? Were they surprised when they put it down on paper where their time went? Do they feel their current pattern truly reflects what they think their priorities are - or whether it might suggest some new priorities are in order?
I read somewhere once that if you want to know what your highest priorities are, just look at your checkbook and your calendar.
How we spend our money and time is most likely the truest reflection of what we believe and what we value whether we thought that was the case or not. Not knowing how we spend our money and time can be dangerous...albeit tremendously comforting for awhile. No need to remedy a problem that doesn't exist, right?
I think of all the big scandals in corporate America in the past five years because of a lack of oversight, regulation or adherence to auditing practices in place and it seems to me the problem is just as big in our personal lives. If there is no regular check-up (think about the last time you were at the dentist) then the longer you wait to look, the more damage that can occur and the more expensive it can become to address what you find in the end.
I'm glad we did the budget and I'm glad we regularly consider how our time is spent so we can make changes when necessary that prevent much bigger problems later, but mostly I'm glad we both know that the only proper motivation for giving anything is a response to Jesus giving us everything.