Three Simple Rules

So I’m back again after two weeks hiatus as we at the parsonage hosted an extraordinary visit from a beloved friend from Tennessee. The truth is, I struggle with time management anyway (especially when I am out of my routine) and likely most truthful of all, I procrastinate writing my weekly blog as I want the topic to be ‘spot on’ and every word to be perfect.
Give me a break!  I just need to get over myself and write.
Each of you who read this blog know my imperfections anyway but seem to excuse those when you faithfully read what I pen, with some of you even moved to engaging comment. (Thanks for that, by the way!)

Here’s the thing.  Its October, and among the majesty of fall and the cascade of colors, that means its Stewardship time around the church. Sometimes, the church or preaching calendar is already full, and we push this subject out to November.  Either way, it’s time for the preacher to talk about money.  Having worked this gig for a while now, I know there’s a whole lot of other things parishioners would rather hear about from the pulpit than money.  But since my sources show that (depending on your translation), the Bible mentions money no less than 2000 times, I’ll wager I’m on solid ground preaching about it.

What I like so much about this year’s topic is that it’s thoroughly steeped in John Wesley’s theology (the founder of the Methodist Church), hence it’s brimming with an abundance of practical counsel.   With the Biblical grounding in the wisdom of Proverbs and a bevy of other salient texts, we’ll focus these next four weeks in worship around three simple rules that John Wesley rolled out in his classic sermon entitled The Use of Money (1744), when the Methodists whom he’d been instructing on the proper use of their money, actually took him seriously and developed a glut of the stuff and took to using it rather frivolously!
Wesley’s three simple rules, meant to be a curative elixir,
apply today as much as they did back then when his sermon first debuted.
His solid counsel and own life practice was this:
Having first, gained all you can, and secondly, saved all you can, then give all you can.”  For our preaching purposes, we’ll dissect them like this:

Earn all you can
Save all you can
Give all you can

Since this wisdom is too good to limit to adults in worship, our materials include provision for weekly small group study plus lessons for children and youth.  Which means this can be a family affair.  If we don’t teach our kids about the spiritual implications of money and it’s use, who will?  Imagine speaking of this around the dinner table together.  Which means we’ll need to commit to eating dinner at the table together, a rare thing these days.

And here’s a pledge I make to you as pastor.  My sermons will be about a whole lot more than money and the church’s ‘need’ for it since stewardship is a way of life and is not limited to our use of money.  Broadly speaking, stewardship is about the proper stewarding of time, resources, choices, skills and
anything else we have at our disposal.
Secondly, and even more importantly, God doesn’t need our money as much as we need to enter into (or continue) the faithful practice of giving it.  Meanwhile, God always acts first, all that we do is in response to God’s great love and blessing in our lives.  We “can’t not” do it, so to speak

For my readership who worship at the place I do weekly (or any other church for that matter), I’m trusting you’ll show up for Stewardship month instead of ducking out for an October of Starbucks Sundays or succumbing to a series of late breakfasts at home while reading the paper in your pajamas and looking for the rain to set in. It’s tempting, I’ll admit, but I kind of have an every Sunday engagement!

Having met with our way cool Certified Financial Planner this Friday, I know there’s a whole lot of great counsel out there about the proper use of money.
Some of it is free and some comes with a fee.
Yet it’s amazing how three simple rules can pack so much punch:

Earn all you can
Save all you can
Give all you can

That’ll preach!  Come and see.

Studying Up,
Pastor Michelle


  1. Libby Medley says

    Earn all you can does not seem like a life-giving rule. It implies that earning comes way too high on the ladder of life. It could be interpreted as get a second or third job and forget your duties to a life outside of work, or give up on doing what you love to take the job that pays the most, regardless of what that job might entail. Be as engaged in life as you can makes a much stronger statement of an active Christian life as far as I can see.

    • Michelle McKinnonYoung says

      I agree it is a tricky rule at first-blush. But if we look at it as realizing that being able to work/earn is a gift and that we earn not only so we can care for ourselves but others humankind as well, it becomes a life-giving principle and not one for personal gain only. Of course, my preaching during the series will reflect this. All that we have is God’s anyway. We just learn to steward and manage our earnings/gains in meaningful work, hopefully, that blesses not only us, but others and the work of the church. This is how John Wesley intended it.

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