I’m routinely asked when I think the stock market is going to crash. Well, obviously, I don’t know and neither does anyone else, or if it even will. However, one thing we all know is that it will eventually go down, but then, as history proves, it eventually goes back up again. Likewise, interest rates go down and then they go back up over time. Overall, isn’t this just the pattern of life? We see it all around us. There is a low tide and a high tide. There is day and there is night. All things have a built in flow pattern. However, when it comes to things like our money, we want this flow to suddenly break all the rules and just stay one way – to keep growing and going up. We don’t typically like the low tides of life, but they are important to keep in mind so that we can keep our heads regardless of the flow pattern we may find ourselves in:
Flows In: Who doesn’t like the financial high tides? This when we are making the money, getting paid and our finances are on a high. However, this is also when so many mistakes get made. For some go out and spend their money as if it will continue on this high forever. Then, when something happens and the money slows, debts are left, and toys are scattered. The best thing to do during high seasons is to expect them not to last forever. This doesn’t mean we hoard every dime, but it does mean we practice self discipline and save for the rainy day. In the Bible, Joseph reflects this so well when he helped Egypt prepare for the prophesied famine by saving grain during the good times of harvest. Likewise, we don’t need to go on spending sprees when money flows in. Rather, we too should save. We should also seek to pay cash for things whenever we can, and avoid getting over-extended.
Flows Out: We don’t like the times money flows out, but we should expect it and plan for it as mentioned earlier. For some, it may feel like it is always flowing out and rarely flowing in. However, good stewardship habits can help us during the lean times as well as the good times. Remember, if we get paid, this is a flow in. Therefore, how do we structure our inflows to best respond to our outflows? Ideally, we should have a spending, giving and savings plan. This basically means we have set percentages that automatically go to our savings, debts, and charitable offerings. These are the three components to any effective budget. When we set these buckets up, we don’t have to fall victim to low tides, but can plan for them. This truly does apply to those with a little, or a lot. The hard part is getting started, even if we are digging out of past mistakes. It’s never too late to start building new habits.
Flows Repeat: The other part to flow patterns is they repeat themselves. This means the peaks don’t last, but neither do the valleys. We can better weather the storm when we know this fact. We may not always be sure to the length of the low and high tide, but we can expect them. This is easier said than done though. I realize that. We may not always make more money every year. But this is why it is so important to understand flow patterns and never make chasing “more” the goal. For chasing more power, prominence, position and possessions will always be in fluctuation and when we make chasing them our priority, distraction and discouragement are almost always the result.
Application: “Level Headed” – Jonah 2:8
Instead of following the money, let us follow the ministry. This means we never make chasing money the goal. Rather we allow the ministry to be the goal. Perhaps God desires us to go and do something that pays less, but we don’t do it. Instead we go after what the world flashes before us. This is not the way for any believer to go, yet sadly, many of us get caught up in this race. Instead, let us follow Christ, wherever He may lead and trust that He will provide for all our needs – just as He has promised. Then, during high tides, and low tides, we know He is our guide.