In case you missed it, we’ve been talking about earning, saving up for college and such, saving on things like credit cards, paying taxes (while legally minimizing them) and planning for retirement. We, missionaries and nonprofit workers, need to talk about these things because as “vagabonds” our finances are just so much different from everyone else’s. The rules for IRA contributions, the need to use a VPN just to access a bank account, the threat of brokerage lockouts and the real fear of making false steps with income tax and Social Security are seldom treated online and often misunderstood by financial advisors and tax preparers.
However, there is an even bigger reason that we want to talk about Vagabond Finances. We want to win! As selfish as that might sound, we want to win our financial freedom for very good and upright reasons that some people and many websites just won’t understand. Here are several that are dear to my heart and yours:
1. To not be a burden on others
Today’s nonprofit workers can’t become tomorrow’s nonprofit retirees. We’ll discuss this more fully under retiring, but there is no question that needing donors’ and churches’ and even family members’ financial support after years of overseas service is becoming less and less possible. Not only that, but if those donors funds are given to us for 20 or 30 years of retirement, who will fund the next generation of nonprofit workers?
2. To provide for our families
I’m not talking Ferraris, Rolexes and Harvard here, but I am talking about providing decently for our children, our aging parents and others who may depend on us. The world (those in the US and abroad) is watching to see if we will love our family as we have loved our donors and those we’ve served.
3. To fund our own work abroad
Does this seem far-fetched to you? Maybe it is for most of us, but I’ve known some who go into missions as a second career or in their retirement and, therefore, can fully fund their own work! Many of us have saved hard, invested well and planned for the future so that we could gradually take voluntary pay-cuts and thus, partially fund our own work. Reducing or eliminating what we need as income from our donors and organizations, also reduces our income tax, our Social Security tax (or something equivalent) and possibly our administrative fees. It’s a fantastic goal to aim at! I’d rather have that than buy a yacht any day!
4. To be recklessly generous
We’ve been generous with our time, we’ve accepted lower wages, we’ve lived far from family and we’ve grown accustomed to doing without our favorite foods. We’ve given so much of ourselves and done so without reservation. Many of us have received enormous gifts from well-off donors and, though smaller in size, similarly amazing gifts from retired widows. You know what they say to you when you thank them, right? They say, “I’m thrilled to be a part of your work. I’m privileged to partner with you. I’m honored to be able to help.”
Every generous gift brings joy to the giver. Sacrificing our time, our pleasures, our energy brings us a certain undefinable pleasure. And it should! Giving of our money in a sacrificial way also brings us joy. We can do some of that today, but imagine reaching a point where you could be recklessly generous! Because you’d earned, saved and wisely invested, you earned your financial freedom and the opportunity to give with reckless abandon. Suddenly, you are giving an amazing gift. Suddenly, someone is thanking you for your generosity. And, suddenly, it is you who are saying, “I’m thrilled to be a part of your work. I’m privileged to partner with you. I’m honored to be able to help.” And it is such a wonderful feeling.
During Jesus’s time of ministry far, far from His home, a woman came and showed reckless love by giving to Him her greatest financial possession. The writer Mark (not me but in the Bible!) tells us in chapter 14:
…a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard [perfume], very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, ‘Why was the ointment wasted like that?’
Once broken, the flask couldn’t be resealed. The genie was out of the bottle, we could say, and would never be put back in. That was reckless generosity toward a foreigner on this earth. How did Jesus reply? Those of us who are missionaries, sharing the good news, should take special note of this:
Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel [good news] is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.
She honored Jesus with extravagant generosity as He was about to show His extravagant generosity toward anyone who wants to receive it. And did you see the promise? Wherever in the world we go to tell people about the good news of Jesus’s love for us, sacrifice for us and desire to have a relationship with us, this story of a woman’s reckless generosity will be told.
We have the joy of:
- Speaking speak the good news of God’s reckless generosity toward us,
- Sharing the story of this woman’s and this Savior’s reckless generosity and
- Giving with reckless generosity (if we do our best with our Vagabond Finances).
Now, that’s winning financial freedom!