Christian and Money Series- Wayside Ministry: Part 10

Introduction

Post 1 originally predicted this series would end at post 5. Instead, this post 10 will be the last in the Christians and Money Series. This journey is just short of 18,000 words has given me greater clarity to navigate the Wayside Ministry’s goal.
Due to the difficulty of forming a trusting, sincere relationship, there are many barriers between developing a Patron and Recipient relationship. Post 9 showed Patron and Recipient both have boundaries, life themes, and priorities. When they come together to form the Patron-Recipient relationship, these boundaries, life-themes, and priorities meld creates the common ground of a sincere, trusting relationship over time between them. The levels of trust and sincerity vary and change according to the unique blending outcomes.
Henceforth, the word boundaries or boundary used in this post shall mean boundaries, life themes, and priorities.

This post has the following sections to address practical issues arising from this blending.

  1. Wayside Ministry – A recap.
  2. Flexibility and Adaptability of the Wayside Ministry Models.
  3. Nature of Patron and Recipient Relationships.
  4. Patron and Recipient Boundary Concerns.
  5. Various Economic Scenarios of the Wayside Ministry.
  6. Practical Help of Wayside Ministry

Wayside Ministry- Recap

The Wayside Ministry
Table Summarizing the Wayside Ministry Traits

This Wayside Ministry was something both my wife and myself experimented with over the last 15 years. My wife started this independently without my knowledge. The neighborhood environment presented the environment for the Wayside Ministry.
The table shows the Wayside Ministry spanning a continuum across the categories of resource commitment level, duration of commitment, availability, and visibility. The table displays the flexibility of the Wayside Ministry to be able to adapt to various real-life scenarios. This adaptability is critical to accommodate the endless permutations of boundaries.

Flexibility and Adaptability

The Wayside Ministry is one of the means to experience soul salvation by fulfilling the 2nd Commandment of love, according to 1Pet1:7-9, 1:22. Remember, post 6 that presented the evidence to show the paramount importance of soul salvation?
This table shows a continuum of related traits that one can flexibly and interchangeably adopt in a single relationship.
E.g., Most Wayside relationships start as a Jesus’ model with sincere but low commitment and occasional engagement. As trust forms and sincerity reciprocated, this relationship gradually develops over time into a good neighbor relationship. If Recipient’s family social support becomes available, the innkeeper model or Jesus’ model is more relevant to allow family support to be the primary support.
The Wayside Ministry is to provide support where the traditional sources fail to materialize. It must never be the Wayside Ministry’s intention to deprive the Recipient’s family network of soul salvation opportunities.
The Wayside Ministry is not a linear model. The three models can function simultaneously within a single relationship. Where trust is present, the good neighbor model is relevant. But for areas where trust is insufficient, Jesus’ model is more appropriate. As such, the Patron needs to select the models flexibly and blend them to provide the best fit for the circumstances.

The Patron-Recipient relationship is predicated on God, presenting the opportunity to form a relationship. Without this opportunity, it will be an effort devoid of God’s purpose and will. In-other words, there is no stress to make this relationship happen. The Wayside relationship occurs organically.
The Patron also needs to recognize and expect that the Patron-Recipient relationship has an expiry date. The goal is to support the Recipient. The means is a trusting and sincere relationship (later sections will propose a framework to achieve this). Without the means, the goal is nonexistent. The ultimate GOAL is for one’s soul salvation that has eternal consequences.

Nature of Patron and Recipient Relationships

Patron and Recipient Relationships

Patron and Recipient Relationships are Either Pre-existing Relationships or New Relationships

It is also common that the Patron has an existing relationship with the Recipient. This pre-existing relationship provides a natural entry engagement for the Patron-Recipient relationship to form. I know of one Patron-Recipient relationship that developed about 6 years after they have become friends. During these 6 years, the boundaries were exchanged and engaged based on friendship. When the Recipient fell on hard times, that friendship fostered the Patron-Recipient relationship.
When a new Patron-Recipient relationship is forming, the Wayside ministry has a likelihood to take the following pathway.

  1. Ice Breaker Stage to Clarify Superficial Boundaries

Usually, the Recipient has voiced the need for support. However, the boundaries relating to this Recipient is unknown, and the nature of support also requires clarification.

At this point, the Patron and Recipient are strangers. The ice breaker stage is a superficial exchange of boundary information. To show goodwill, after the Recipient clarifies the nature of help required, the Patron offers temporary and limited support according to their boundary conditions.

  1. Post Ice Breaker Stage, Hangover.

The help received will elicit a response from the Recipient. This response can assume the following forms. When the word

    1. The Recipient acknowledges the sincerity of the Patron and reciprocates to offer more boundary information. Likewise, the Patron offers more boundary information. This exchange fosters the consolidation of a Patron-Recipient relationship that mutually respects each other’s boundaries based on trust and sincerity.
    2. The Patron and Recipient do not feel that the boundaries were respected or acceptable. In such an instance, the relationship usually ends by mutual consent amicably. The Patron may maintain an offer to help even after the Recipient has decided to terminate this relationship.
    3. A blend of “a” and “b.” This outcome is usually the case because of incomplete boundary information. In such instances, either the Patron or the Recipient may seek clarity on the response and associated concerns relating to the boundaries. After that, the outcome could be a repeat of the Ice Breaker Stage, “a” or “b.” The Wayside Ministry model is flexibly adopted here to account for the dynamic nature of the outcomes.
  1. Relationship Nurturing Stage

The objective of the nurturing stage is to support Recipient independence, not deepening dependency. Independence occurs across the domains of physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and social. Fostering resilience in these 5 domains takes time and intimate knowledge of the Recipient’s situation and tapping or expanding the Recipient’s resources and social network.

The Patron may want to equip themselves with financial literacy, coaching skills, and counseling skills. The social domain involves connecting the Recipient with government social aid if they qualify, entreating their family members to partner with the Wayside Ministry effort, or inviting other like-minded parties willing to help with the permission of the Recipient.

Patron and Recipient Boundary Concerns

The Patron has the following boundary concerns.

  1. The Patron support is appearing or/and acting in a way that violates the Recipient’s privacy. Even worse is the Patron seems to control the life of the Recipient.
  2. Gender boundaries Confusing compassion for sexual attraction.
  3. The Patron support has conflicts with the Recipient’s next of kin/family authority or influence.
  4. The Patron support reinforcers the carnality of the Recipient.
  5. The Patron is held hostage by the Recipient, usually in the emotional sense, demanding support as an entitlement.
  6. The Recipient takes the Patron for granted as an infinite resource.

The Recipient has the following boundary concerns.

  1. Recipient privacy boundaries are not respected, and they feel their life is controlled or manipulated by the Patron.
  2. The Recipient’s family has conflicts with the Patron.
  3. The Recipient doesn’t want the Patron to view them as leeches. This worry compromises their sense of self-worth.
  4. The Recipient is afraid his actions jeopardize the Patron’s Commitment. In this way, his actions appear to be under surveillance.

It will take the Holy Spirit’s wisdom to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves to navigate the above concerns to attain harmony between the Patron and Recipient’s boundaries.

Wise as Serpents and Harmless as Doves within Boundaries

The guiding principle to attain harmony draws from the 1st and 2nd Commandments.
Firstly the 3 Do NO HARMs-

  1. Do NO HARM to God’s desire to help Man avoid carnality.
  2. Do NO HARM to the Patron’s sense of self-worth.
  3. Do NO HARM to the Recipient’s sense of self-worth.

Secondly, the dealings are sincere, respectful, and done with integrity.
If this harmony is of the 3 do no harm, sincerity, respect, and integrity are unachievable simultaneously after the post ice breaker stage, this means the Patron-Recipient relationship is not viable.
In actuality, the assessment of viability is not that clear cut and subjective. The measures of self-worth, sincerity, respect, and integrity are subjective. If the Patron and Recipient boundaries are too out of sync or overly complicated, this subjectivity gap or complexity could be the main barrier to forming a viable relationship. Simply put, the Patron and Recipient need to get along with one another.

Various Economic Scenarios of the Wayside Ministry

This section covers how to apply the Wayside Ministry blended model with the following economic baseline scenarios.

>> Rich” width=”957″ height=”677″> Life Scenarios Poor >>> Rich

The Poor Single Income Scenario

This scenario has a single breadwinner income of $3,000.00, which is less than the median of $4,000.00 with 2 children and 2 dependents, aged parents with 6 persons in the household. Household expenses are about $500.00 per person below the $650.00, which partially meets the condition to qualify for social aid.
The family under this scenario cannot afford to help others but needs financial and social support. In this instance, the breadwinner’s primary soul salvation goal is to support the self and the family’s needs. The Wayside Ministry in this scenario is self and family.

The Single Income Slightly Above Median Scenario

This scenario has a single breadwinner income of $6,000.00 is above the median of $4,000.00, with 2 children and 2 dependents, aged parents with 6 persons in the household. Household expenses are about $1000.00 per person.
The family with this scenario is similar to the low single income scenario. There is no excess between income and expenses. The Wayside Ministry in this scenario is self and family.

The Double Income Slightly Above Median Scenario with Dependents

This scenario has a double breadwinner income of $10,000.00 with 2 children and 2 dependents, aged parents with 6 persons in the household. Household expenses are about $1500.00 per person.
The family with this scenario is similar to the low single income scenario, albeit with some excess. The income exceeds the expenses by $1,000.00 a month. The Wayside Ministry in this scenario is self and family.
The 3 scenarios above are evidence of why apostle Paul encourages those who are single to remain single (1Co7:8) in-order that they may be able to serve the Lord without the encumbrances of family relationships. Nevertheless, apostle Paul recognized that not all are called to be single as he was (1Co7:7, 7:9).
I know of a family that has also experienced all the above 3 scenarios over their lives. The wife helped her neighborhood friends in need during this period, sometimes in the small sums of money to tie over a difficult period. However, due to her financial constraints, she usually offers nonfinancial help. For example, she would accompany them for medical appointments paying for the transport costs and representing them before the doctors due to language barriers. Another avenue of help was applying for government social aid on their behalf by completing the paperwork and passing the means test interview with the social worker.
Sometimes the help took the form of cleaning up their house that desperately needed upkeep due to their poor physical condition. The wife and her friend would partner with one another in this Wayside Ministry. The above examples show that the Wayside Ministry is still possible without being well off.

The Double Income Slightly Above Median Scenario without Dependents

This scenario has a double breadwinner income of $10,000.00 with 2 children and no dependents, aged parents with 6 persons in the household. Household expenses are about $1500.00 per person.
In such a scenario, the excess per month is $4,000.00. Setting aside 1/3 from this amount to support the Wayside Ministry amounts to about $1,300.00 a month.

Properties and Children’s Education

From my wealth stewardship journey, minimizing debt is a must, and settling one’s debts should be prioritized ahead of the wayside ministry. It is prudent and necessary not to burden oneself with untenable mortgages. Personally, my property had a multiplier of about 3 times the typical household median income (2 working adults = $8,000.00), and the loan was cleared by age 40.
Setting aside sufficient for the children’s education is the responsibility of the parents. The parental Wayside Ministry duties are the family before focusing outside the family.
The question is, how much is too much to allocate for property and education expenses? While the figures cited below are arbitrary, the quantum measured from the median baseline (see post 8) speaks for themselves to convey the excessiveness that Col3:5 calls idolatry (see Post 3 for more on Col3:5).
My convictions that buying properties (the home to stay, which is different from investment, see Conclusion section) and incurring educational expenses that exceed the following would be jeopardizing the potential of one’s soul salvation.

Property should cost the lower of the two

  1. Properties price should not cost more than three times one’s annual household income for those with a household income below the median.
  1. For household incomes above the median, properties should not cost more than 5-6 times (arbitrary number) the median annual household income. The median monthly income in post 8 was about SGD 4,000.00. If inclusive of employer’s contribution, 1-month yearly bonus, and dual-income household, the median monthly household income is about SGD 10,000.00 or SGD 120,000.00 on an annual basis. This guideline places the property prices between SGD$600,000.00 to SGD$ 720,000.00.


Education should cost no more than twice the cost of local university education.
Singapore local university education cost about $30,000,00 to $40,000.00 (excluding medical) for a 3 to 4-year undergraduate degree. See link – https://blog.moneysmart.sg/education/singapore-university-education-cost/
Factoring about SGD$15,000.00 per year for living expenses over 4 years, the total to fund a 4-year undergraduate education in Singapore is about SGD$100,000.00.

For example, if one is considering an overseas education, an Australian education cost about SGD30,000 a year, with the cost of living about SGD$20,000.00 a year. For a 4 year undergraduate course, the total is about SGD$200,000.00.

The Retiree Scenario at No. 6 Wealth Stage (see Post 8 that explains how this wealth stage is determined)

Assume this retiree couple has saved $1,200,000.00, which is about 2.2 times the minimum amount to qualify for stage 6 of the balanced wealth stage mentioned in post 7. Their monthly expenses are $3,000.00 a month.
This scenario assumes the home mortgage is paid off, fully funded children’s education needs, and accumulated 1.2 million in liquid assets. This scenario offers the retiree an adequate foundation to experience the Wayside Ministry. Conservatively, the allocated amount for the Wayside Ministry ranges between $1,000 to $2,000.00 per month to prevent prematurely exhausting the funds.

Practical Help of Wayside Ministry

Physical Help

  1. Offer regular logistical help to meet up doctor appointments, similar to the neighbor or innkeeper model.
  2. Clean the house on occasions, similar to the innkeeper model.
  3. Help them settle administrative matters with the authorities, banking, etc.
  4. Buy food and groceries on their behalf, similar to the innkeeper model.

Financial Help

  1. Start in small amounts such as paying for the meal or pay for the transport cost—low commitment, similar to Jesus’ model.
  2. Provide monthly financial assistance up to a maximum of $500.00 per person. Notably, $500.00 is an arbitrary number close to an individual’s median cost mentioned in Post 7. This number may need upward adjustment according to account for inflation effects and Recipient circumstances. This high commitment is similar to the neighbor model.

Because the financial help comes with NO strings attached, it is needful that the money does not fund their addiction to carnal habits.

Emotional and Mental Support

  1. Be available to Recipient as a friend on equal terms—both able to share details of one’s life vulnerably within the boundary limits.
  2. Offer alternative perspectives while being compassionate with the Recipient’s situation.

Conclusion

Wayside Ministry in the Wealth Stewardship Ecosystem

The Wayside Ministry is a sober-minded approach to wealth stewardship. It prioritizes healthy self-love, family, and dependents. Before one can be a Patron that serves beyond self and family, the Patron must provide for themselves and not neglect family needs. The Wayside Ministry can also assume nonfinancial forms that are valued by the Recipient.
Boundaries of both Patron and Recipient are respected. It is essential to realize that the economic realities, life choices, the worry of the future, and inheritance affect both the Patron and the Recipient alike, as presented in the above visual.
Investment, which can include property purchases, may take priority over the Wayside Ministry. These investments may displace the Wayside Ministry. The individual may gain more control, prestige, and wealth due to these investments at the expense of SOUL salvation and lose out in their eternal life. Jesus mentioned in Mat6:1-6, where Man receives their praise and reward on earth, they risk forfeiting the recognition and reward from God the Father.

Does it mean investing is bad? Of course not. Investment is an integral part of wealth Stewardship. What’s important is the motivation behind the investment and balancing the investment needs with the Recipient’s needs. Each person will receive different divine mandates concerning this balance. Live life with the right reasons to fulfill the 1st and 2nd Commandments, and all will work out for our good who LOVE Him (1st and 2nd Commandment) and called after His purpose (Rom8:28).
These Christian and Wealth Series have attempted to offer guidelines that shine on these “right reasons” to support a more objective self-examination. While it is good to be materially rich in this mortal life, it is wiser that one is rich in the life to come.

Christian and Money Series- Boundaries & Priorities: Part 9

Introduction

Posts 7 and 8 of the Christians and Money Series discussed the hard factors (tangible) of economic realities, the shared economic baselines, and the 2 impediments of the sacred cows of social giving and inheritance. These tangible factors form the natural application’s structural framework to fulfill the RELATIONSHIPS’ goal of soul salvation mentioned in posts 5 and 6.

Post 9 deals with the soft factors (intangible) of relationship dynamics.
The illustration below shows that how the hard and soft factors form the wealth stewardship ecosystem. God’s alternative and Man’s ways have very different goals and means, although both appear to do “good” on the appearance.

 

 

Wealth Stewardship Ecosystem

 

These soft factors involve

  1. Discover the personal boundaries of oneself and the party in-need.
  2. Develop a hierarchy of priorities that’s clear yet adaptable to serve the goals.
  3. Be flexible with the Wayside ministry to suit various life circumstances. (Elaborated in Post 10).

Christians need the harmonized mindset of wise as serpents and harmless as doves to be effective stewards of God.

Boundaries

 

THE NEW TESTAMENT LOVE FRAMEWORK

Self-Love

Jesus said in Mat7:1-5
“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but does not notice the log that is in your own eye?
“Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?
“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

In Mat7:1-5, Jesus drew attention to the undesirable nature of actions that attempt to change others’ circumstances while one’s affairs are no better or in worse condition.
While this was in-context of judgment, this principle where one settles their affairs before advising or imposing on others is valid in the area of love.

The 1st and 2nd Love Commandments in Mat22 impose an expectation on Man to love God and their neighbor. This outcome motivates Man to set requirements among themselves. The emphasis is to love God and love their kind, which this series of posts have identified as the RELATIONSHIPS issue that is why Man loves money rather than loving God and their kind.
However, this love demand has biased the reading of Mat22:39, which reads as follows: “ You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The part glossed over is loving “yourself,” which is self-love. Self-love is settling one’s love affair before loving God and loving others.

 

Jesus recognized Man’s significantly inferior self-love experience and the need to be loved by another before loving others. For this reason, He gave a new commandment in John13:34 where Jesus offered love to humankind as both God and as a man. Jesus showed this love to restore the broken sense of self-love by offering loving acceptance in-place of abandonment. In this way, humanity finds the strength to love themselves, knowing that God as Man loves them to the point of death.

 

It is imperative to anchor in this healthy self-love according to God’s will as a pre-requisite to be free of the enslavement of money, which this post and the past eight posts in this series are attempting to foster.
For a deeper reflection on self-love, the reader can refer to the Self-love Series found in the blog “Relationship” section. I will include the links here once the series is complete.

 

Define Your Boundaries

 

To define one’s boundaries is to gain clarity on what one needs for healthy self-love. One’s boundaries are unique, taking the form of personal and environmental circumstantial factors.

 

Circumstantial Factors – Personal

Personal circumstantial factors are realities that occur leading to birth and early childhood (up to age 6, Berk, 2014). These factors comprise the person’s genetic make-up, temperament, and early childhood attachment. The person has no or very little control over these factors. In scripture language, they are part of the purpose of God. Purpose in the Greek describes the mandatory plan of God.
Circumstantial factors are essential regardless of which wealth stewardship model is adopted. The verse that lends weight to this claim comes from John5:19.

 

“Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the son also does in like manner.

 

The key phrases that support this observation are bolded. The word “unless” indicates a condition for action. That action “what the father is doing” fulfills the 1st and 2nd Commandment, which embodies God’s purpose and will. Thus the decision to love one’s neighbor and the manner to show this love is contingent on “unless one sees what the Father is doing.”

 

What does it means “unless one sees what the Father is doing?” It is notable that both the “see” and “doing” are verbs in the present tense. In other words, the wisdom concerning current circumstances determines the impetus for action. The following could be one possible framework for this wisdom

 

It raises the need to observe one’s current life circumstances for patterns or trends, especially in the following areas.

    1. Personality and temperament traits. Introvert or extrovert, meek or prideful, sober-minded or given to impulsivity, coping styles.
    2. The following events that shaped one’s life decisions or life trajectory
      • Learning or developmental disabilities
      • Major illness or death of loved ones
      • The quality of early childhood attachment or lack of that thereof.
      • Gifts and skills.

 

Observe for Patterns that Create Arching Themes

 

The pattern emerging over time and space usually forms themes within one’s lot in life. Commonly multiple themes coexist, but they manifest as primary or secondary and manifested or suppressed.

  1. A sad theme.
  2. A happy go lucky theme.
  3. A lonely theme.
  4. A social theme.
  5. A materially poor theme.
  6. A materially rich theme.

Whatever the life circumstances and themes may be, they are what the Father has DONE and STILL doing in each person’s life. To see these patterns and themes in one’s life is necessary before embarking on seeing what the Father is doing in others’ lives.

Patterns and themes form the boundaries of one’s life, and another’s life. Boundaries will feature later as key to be wise when doing good (remember the Christian character’s duality in post 7.

 

Circumstantial Factors – Environmental

Circumstantial environmental factors are events that occur from middle childhood up to the point of death. In these life stages, these events are increasingly within the person’s control. It is subjective to include middle childhood and late adulthood as circumstantial environmental factors. Middle childhood and late adulthood could also be part of the personal circumstantial factors due to the low levels of individual control over their events.

 

Central to what constitutes circumstantial environmental factors is the element of choice and the free will to make those choices. Such factors would fall under the will of God. The Greek meaning of will (Thelema) describes the desirable optional plans of God.

The following are examples of circumstantial environmental factors:

  1. The characteristics of one’s adult family relationships constitute circumstantial environmental factors. These relationships include parents, siblings, spouses, and children.
  2. Other nonfamily relationships that constitute environmental factors are business partners, significant peers.
  3. Major illness or death of loved ones
  4. Educational opportunities.
  5. Loss of employment.

These circumstantial environmental factors contribute to the reshaping of the individual’s circumstantial personal factors.

 

The significant difference between the Recipient’s (person in need of help) and the offeror is the scarcity of available information on the Recipient’s part. It takes time and mutual trust to construct the story of their life circumstances. The Recipient’s life circumstances likewise will produce emerging patterns and themes.

Commonly, such information is obtained indirectly by inferring observed clues and cues over time. Consequently, they are incomplete, an approximation of the facts, and subject to change.

 

The Holy Spirit is the believer’s helper in this instance. The Holy Spirit grants the believer access to God’s mind (1Co2:16). Because the Holy Spirit is the wisdom of God (2Co2:13), She helps Man to search out what God has concealed (Pro25:2). Life is one long continuous unveiling of God’s life parables for each individual. Therefore, the Holy Spirit’s wisdom and what She reveals are indispensable for Man to search out what God has purposed and willed for the Recipient.

Discovering the Recipient boundaries is a time-consuming iterative process, the test of patience that requires perseverance, and most importantly, the wisdom of a serpent and dove to navigate the mutual boundaries.

 

Combining the Personal and Environmental Circumstantial Factors (To be Wise as Serpents)

 

Wise as Serpent

 

How does this testing meld with the boundaries mentioned earlier? In the course of stewardship, one needs to look for alignment between the following.

  1. Understand your boundaries and emerging themes.
  2. Understand your neighbor’s boundaries and emerging themes.
  3. Test God’s will in the various life context presented.
  4. Review the result of the testing.
  5. Observe the kind of patterns emerging from several testings.

This alignment is to explore the following in the course of the Wayside ministry.

  1. Identify areas of harmony and conflict where the boundaries interface and overlap concerning the 1st and 2nd Commandments.
  2. This harmony and conflict management is similar to what God has done concerning balancing His Love and Justice needs (see Post 6).
    1. Does it support loving God?
    2. Does it support loving self?
    3. Does it support loving the neighbor?
  3. In the context of the testing results, observe for patterns; they are God’s hidden message.
  4. Prayerfully; Seek scripture for guidance, seek the rest in your soul to confirm, and seek counsel from like-minded Christians in this order of priority. These 3 seekings support the focus and clarity of realizing God’s will observing how the harmony and conflict of boundaries resonate with God’s hidden message.

 

God and Man are Balancing Love and Justice

 

Ultimately, God’s balances His love and justice and His free will with Man’s free will. He decides the appropriate proportion of love, justice, free will for Himself, for you, and the neighbor in this balance. It is also needful to point out that the balance is not necessarily static with time and is often a moving target. The Wayside Ministry in post 10 will offer examples of how this balance of boundaries may look like in practice in the Boundary Concerns section.

Only God is qualified to oversee this unimaginably complex endeavor that occurs over time and space across countless lives, like interlinked webs, each of which is invaluable to God. Furthermore, God is not operating randomly; His 2 Commandments bind Him, and He has an overarching purpose-goal for His Kingdom and each individual.

 

In summary, the advice by Jesus to be “wise as serpents” and Paul to be “wise in what is good “is a partnership with the Holy Spirit in the process narrated above.

The verse that impresses me the most concerning being harmless as doves come from Phil4:8.
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

See the series on self-love for the reflection of this verse. The author’s opinion is that being harmless as a dove is more demanding than being as wise as a serpent. And the most demanding is harmonizing the serpent and dove needs. See the Boundary Concerns in the Wayside Ministry Section for guidelines on harmonizing the serpent and dove needs.

 

Priorities

The recurring theme of this series of posts is RELATIONSHIPS.
RELATIONSHIPS are not only the focus but also the priority of God that drives His purpose and will. God is omnipotent and omniscient, sees the need for focus and priority; He does not spare Man this need. This section explores Man’s priorities in light of the RELATIONSHIPS.

 

 

 

Setting Priorities

This post has adapted (with modifications in non italics) the list of priorities from Elizabeth George’s book, A Woman After God’s Heart. My wife subscribes to this book’s many insights, which has blessed our marriage with harmony and effective partnership. The list shows the priorities in order of importance.

  1. Prioritizing God (1st Commandment and New Commandment) by focusing on internal soul growth (Post 6 shows that soul salvation best represents the 1st Commandment) to form a relational attachment with God. For attachment measures the quality of love with God. See the self-love blog series for the narrative of how self-love contributes to attachment with God.
  2. Prioritizing your soul salvation by prioritizing
    1. Your husband/wife
    2. Your children
    3. Your dependents
    4. Your home
    5. Your Wayside Ministry narrated in post 10 that engages with the various life scenarios.
    6. Prioritizing your other activities, including work, hobbies, socializing.

All the above priorities are expressions of the 1st and 2nd Commandments. God in the New Covenant has the relationship focus. God introduced Himself as Father (Mat5:16 ), Jesus as Elder Brother (Mat28:10), Jesus a friend (John15:15), Jesus as the bridegroom (Mat9:15), and the Church as the bride of Christ (Eph5:25-27). All these relationship facets are to fulfill the 1st and 2nd Commandments of love.

God naturally occupies the 1st spot in the priority list. After that, direct family members, wife, and children come next on this priority list. 1Timothy5:8 condemns family breadwinners who fail to provide for their household as having denied their faith in Christ and behaving worse than a non-believer. This judgment ranks among the most extreme ever passed by apostle Paul. Even the man in Corinthian Church who fornicated with his stepmother in 1Co5 did not receive such an indictment. Apostle Paul’s response in 1Tim5:8 is indicative of the importance God places on the husband in the context of that day, to fulfill his responsibilities to provide food and shelter for their family.

The Wayside Ministry comes at 6th position in the priority list. This list’s exception occurs when one does not marry and dedicate their lives to Christ, such as apostle Paul. In such cases, the simplified priority list looks something like this.

  1. Prioritizing God (1st Commandment).
  2. Prioritizing your wayside ministry.
  3. Prioritizing your home. This priority is about self upkeep, feeding oneself. E.g., Apostle Paul was a tentmaker (Act18:1-4), earning his keep while performing his duties as an apostle.
  4. Prioritizing your other activities.

 

Conclusion

This post has proposed that boundaries and priorities are the ways of the serpent sanctioned by God. They are circuit breakers or checkpoints of sober-mindedness that reminds both Patron and Recipient that it is the best effort and no one is forcing another in this relationship.

Post 10 will expand on how these boundaries and priorities feature in the Wayside Ministry Model.

 

Reference

1. Berk, L. E. (2014). Development through the lifespan (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River :NJ; Pearson Education, Inc.

Singapore Wealth Landscape: A Layman Assessment

Introduction

 

Net Worth – What Does it Mean?

 

Mothership released an article about Singapore’s wealth statistics on 5th January 2021. This article revealed some statistics based on the report issued by Credit Suisse 2019 Global Wealth Report.

This post has the goal to share insights based on some of the wealth figures from this article. These insights bear significance which countries and individuals can benefit if they can realize them.

To access this article, click on this link – https://mothership.sg/2020/01/singapore-millionaires/

 

Singapore Wealth Report (In the Rich Range)

 

Singapore Summary Wealth Report (2019) provided by Credit Suisse

 

The above reveals that about 5% of Singapore’s population (226,000) is in the top 1% of global wealth holders. The article defines this wealth as total net wealth, including the family’s primary home. The net wealth naturally needs to exclude all manner of debts

Households Statistics by the Singapore Department of Statistics

 

The above 2019 data reveals that about 21.2 % of households reside in Condominium and Landed Properties. See the following link to access this data – https://www.singstat.gov.sg/find-data/search-by-theme/households/households/latest-data.

The same link from Singstat shows that the average household size was 3.16 in 2019. Assuming all the individuals in the 5% segment of the population were single-income households (which is a very conservative assumption) gives us a household population of 714,160 (216,000 x 3.16) that represents this 5% category. Notably, a news article in 2016 revealed that 53.8% of married couples were double income. See the following link for the news article – https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/getting-more-to-be-dual-income-couples. This household population of 714,160 out of a population size of 5 million is about 14.3%.

It was needful to determine the top 5% of the wealthiest household size of 14.3% in Singapore to compare with the 21.2% of the household that lives in private properties. This difference shows that about 6.9% of the homes are living beyond their means.

Average Property Prices Reported by Today Online 11th April 2019

 

The article from Today newspaper revealed that the average property price is about USD874,372.00 See link for this article –  https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/singapore-worlds-second-most-expensive-housing-market-cbre-report.

According to Credit Suisse’s report, to qualify for Singapore’s wealthiest top 5% of the population, the net worth needs to be at least USD936,400.00.

The difference between these two values is about USD62,028. Those who barely qualified for the top 5% category would have about 93.4% of their wealth trapped in their property. With the rest of the wealth in cash, the government forced savings called CPF and other investable forms.

 

We can draw two observations at this juncture

  1. The difference between 21.2% of households living in private properties and 14.3% of the wealthiest household in Singapore is about 6.9%. 6.9% at the rich spectrum, about 345,000 of the 5 million population live beyond their means at the rich range.
  2. The above 6.9% will double if half of the 5% wealthiest segment are double-income households, which is still a very conservative assumption, given that 53.8% of married couples are double income.

The observations above infer that a third to about half of the private property owners overcommit to their properties.

 

Singapore Wealth Report (In the Median Range)

The median wealth better represents the average wealth due to the ultra-rich that skews the MEAN wealth value towards the spectrum’s wealthy end. Thus the median wealth of USD96,967 converts to about SGD126,057.

HDB Flat Type and Average Price

 

See link – https://blog.seedly.sg/what-type-of-hdb-flat-can-i-afford/ the above table.

Since about 80% of households stay in HDB, it stands to reason that most of the wealth reported is locked in the form of the HDB value. The value of SGD126,057 would indicate that most HDB dwellers (median effects) are residing in the 3-Room and 4-Room flat type, which is another factual observation that reinforces the connection between the reported median wealth by Credit Suisse and the outcomes on the ground. Given that the average CPF balance is about SGD77,000 (see link – https://www.cpf.gov.sg/Assets/members/Documents/CPFTrends_Net_Balances_2015.pdf) in 2014, and accounting for the value of the HDB, it appears that the median Singaporean would not be cash-rich.

An important point to note is the HDB’s success in providing a stable living environment for the average Singaporean. The “smart” thing to do is to avoid buying HDB at high valuations to maximize the cash and CPF wealth components down the road. The necessary thing to do is to continue working as long as possible if passive income cannot cover living expenses.

 

Singapore Wealth Report (In the Poor Range)

 

 

The post lifted off the above from weblink shared in the Introduction section.

This population segment likely does not own any HDB and/or is living with someone else or in a rented HDB. It is also likely this segment can qualify for social aid from the government.

 

Conclusion

This post using public domain data has painted Singapore’s economic landscape with findings that part of the population’s wealthy segment has likely overcommitted to their property aspirations. In contrast, the population’s median wealth segment has significantly benefited from the HDB scheme. The poorer segment of the population will foreseeably need government assistance to alleviate their financial situation.

 

 

 

 

Christians and Money Series- Natural Applications 2 (Sacred Cows): Part 8

Introduction

Post 7 of the Christians and Money Series framed Man’s economic realities and shared economic baselines. These natural realities and baselines frame money stewardship. Post 8 aims to slaughter two sacred cows used as excuses and reasons to sustain wealth stewardship’s current status quo, which is self-serving.

The Sacred Cows of Social Giving and Inheritance

The Mina parable exposes the 1st sacred cow of social giving as the least favorable of positive outcomes.

The second sacred cow is the holy cow of inheritance.

These 2 sacred cows have a long history and deep backing from society. The evidence of the lofty positions occupied by these 2 sacred cows shows Man’s failure to reciprocate to God’s appeals (see Post 4) to value RELATIONSHIPS (see Post 5 and 6).

 

The Parable of the Minas

Minas Parable (Uploaded from http://www.lambsongs.co.nz.)

The parable of the Minas in Luke 19:12-27 involves 10 servants, one Master who goes on a long journey, and the third servant was the unfaithful servant. The 4th to 10th servants were not involved in this parable.

Notably, Matthew’s parable of the Talents (Mat25:14-30) parallels the Minas with similarities and significant differences. The comparative study of these two parables yields many diverse and sometimes nonagreeing views. This post has interpreted the Talent’s parable as relevant to the Jews while the Minas applies to the Gentiles. This distinction is partially due to the traditional view that Matthew has a distinct Jewish slant(see link – https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/story/matthew.html) vs. Luke takes a more gentile flavor (see link- https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/story/luke.html).

The second reason is the nature of punishment present in Matthew is more aligned with the old covenant terms corresponding to the Jews. In contrast, punishment for the unfaithful servant is absent in Luke’s account of the Minas due to the new covenants “grace” nature.

 

 

 

Luke Minas’ parable offers relevant insights as follows.

 

  1. The parable has the context of a master going on a journey and returning.

The Master is Jesus (Scott, pp. 220,1990), who has on a journey (ascended) to a far country (heaven), gave instructions to do business till He returns and returning to hold His servants accountable in His 2nd coming (Mat25:19).

 

  1. The parable focus on the faithfulness of the first, two servants

All the servants were given one Mina each and instructed to do business.

 

The master rewards corresponded to the servants’ business profit. The Master rewarded the one who earned 10 minas with 10 cities and rewarded the servant who earned 5 minas with 5 cities. One Mina is equivalent to 3 months’ wages. (http://www.orthodoxyork.org/the-parable-of-the-talents.html)

 

  1. The parable focused on the unfaithfulness of the third servant and the Master’s bottom line.

The unfaithful servant had a negative image of the Master as exacting and harsh but spoke His mind, either foolishly or hypocritically, to make this negative image known to his Master. If this image was correct and this 3rd servant believed it, he would not have neglected his stewardship by placing his Mina in a handkerchief, a picture of neglect and uncaring attitude that did not value the Mina entrusted to him.

The Master forfeited the 3rd servants’ Mina by giving it to the 1st servant, but his punishment went no further. The Master also rebuked the 3rd servant that he could have at the very least placed the money in the bank (a 3rd party) to earn interest rather than keeping it “hidden” in a handkerchief (Luk19:23).

 

The above supports the following lessons on money stewardship.

  1. Jesus left instructions for His believers to do business during the period He has ascended to heaven. This business involves

 

a. Jesus gave each person a mina. In this parable, Mina is 3 months’ wages. For this post’s natural application, this Mina represents a person’s lot in life. This lot consists of a person’s life history gifts, handicaps, opportunities, and threats presented in life circumstances. It is more than just money or wealth.

 

b. Jesus has expectations that each person acts in faith to use the Mina to do business with the world. This faith is one that expects Jesus’ return that requires accountability on the individual’s part. This faith also requires one to engage actively with the world to multiply that one mina into many minas.

 

  1. The reward far exceeds the effort of doing business. 10 minas, which is equivalent to 30 months of wages, is far inferior in value than the reward of 10 cities.
God’s Bottom-Line
Photo by Hild Nordal on Stockvault

3. Jesus presented God’s bottom line with regards to stewardship

                                                                         

a. Doing nothing (in this case, hiding the Mina in a handkerchief) is not acceptable. The punishment is a rebuke and confiscation of the Mina earlier given. Jesus gave no further penalty. Note the servant was not mentioned together with the slaying of the city’s enemies (Luke19:27).

 

b. The next best thing to doing nothing, deemed neglecting ones’ stewardship duties, is giving the Mina to a 3rd party to do business on their behalf to earn interest on the Mina. This post interprets this 3rd party as the institutions mentioned earlier- charitable organizations, Churches are the most commonly recognized. These institutions are 3rd parties because the end-user (person in need) most likely remains a stranger to the individual who has given that Mina. The mina owner has not exercised direct love-based Faith in God (1st Commandment) using the Mina to connect relationally (2nd Commandment) with the end-user with sincere love.

 

This post coined the terms passive stewardship (passing the Mina to a 3rd party to do business with) vs. negligent stewardship (hiding the Mina in a handkerchief)

 

Social Giving

Passive stewardship is a type of social giving that is impersonal to the end-user and profit-seeking. The profit gained is the appearance of having done business but devoid (similar to the caution in 2Tim3:5) of the risk, uncertainties, and effort arising from the complexities of active relational love with God and Man. That is the self-benefit of placing one’s Mina with the charitable organization or with the organized Church (be it in the form of tithes or offering). Social giving is akin to subcontracting out the 2nd Commandment.

 

This norm of social giving has gained such momentum that it has become the gold standard to demonstrate love and faithfulness to God and Man. This outcome has effectively supplanted the pure form and substance of the 1st and 2nd Commandments. Love and faith have been socialized and industrialized.

 

This Christian and Money Series focuses on prioritizing direct giving with the elements of mutual relational faith and sincere love engagement with the person or persons receiving help. However, it does not mean an anti-social giving position is adopted. What it means, a larger proportion needs to be in direct giving as the primary focus, and a relatively smaller balance is in social giving as the secondary focus. The slaughtering of the sacred cow is by prioritizing this focus.

 

Post 9 will explore guidelines to formulate this proportion according to one’s boundaries and God’s will.

 

The Sacred Cow of Inheritance

Slaughtering the Sacred Cow of Inheritance

After 7 cycles of 7 years per cycle, where each cycle at the 7th year is a Sabbath year, the 50th year is very significant. This 50th year is called the year of Jubilee. Jubilee marks the land’s return to the original landowners and freedom for any Israelite sold as servants/slaves (Lev25:8-13). God’s resetting land ownership and servant/slave ownership. Although Israel has abandoned this practice since 600BC  (see link – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jubilee_(biblical)#:~:text=The%20biblical%20rules%20concerning%20Sabbatical,been%20observed%20for%20many%20centuries.&text=Thus%2C%20with%20the%20exile%20of,Jubilee%20has%20not%20been%20applicable.), God has the intention to disrupt the unimpeded accumulation of wealth in the hands of the powerful minority. Doesn’t this intention resonate with the natural application of post 7?

 

Since Man has a limited life span, earthly wealth accumulation is designated to maximize the inheritance quantum. The desire for inheritance is original with God and also encouraged (Pro13:22). However, this similarity breakdowns beyond this desire. God’s methods to realize this inheritance and what makes this inheritance valuable are at odds with Man’s.

The Christian, thru Jesus Christ, is God’s inheritance (Eph1:18). This inheritance is the relationship of being a son (Rom8:15) to God the Father. Unsurprisingly, this son-Father relationship repurposes the 1st Commandment, taking it from an impersonal level to familial status. For Jesus has fulfilled this Commandment’s demand on man’s behalf, reconciling man with God as Son and Father (2Co5:18).

 

God the father paid a tremendous personal cost for this reconciliation. This aspect is the first point to raise, which contrasts against man’s means to accumulate earthly inheritance. Man’s inheritance usually exacts the higher cost from others to build their estate. The second point is God values Man directly as His inheritance. Whereas, Man values their relationships using material possessions to express this value.

 

Considering Jubilee’s year and how God realizes and values His inheritance, the current inheritance goal to maximize quantum is NOT God’s will. This post asserts that inheritance maximization is the will of Mammon.

 

The New Wealth Redistribution Model

To fulfill the 2nd Commandment, loving oneself as one’s neighbor, setting aside an equal portion of as inheritance, and use setting aside a similar amount for the self would stand the scrutiny of equitableness. The above illustrates this redistribution of one’s wealth to align with the 2nd Commandment.

Post 9 will explore the difficulties arising from this simplistic division of one’s wealth.

 

Conclusion

 

The Stowaway Passengers of The Sacred Cows of Social Giving and Inheritance

Two stowaway cows detract Man from the wealth stewardship that God desires. These two cows have long gained residential rights and some level of authority over this stewardship. Taking stock of them is a crucial step to keep their jurisdiction at levels that make sense to the stewardship that God desires. Social giving and matters of inheritance are means for Man to realize the love RELATIONSHIPS and not for Man to serve them as Masters.

 

The clouds in the above visual are beyond Man’s control and experienced as an uncontrolled event.

The anchors are within Man’s sphere of control as they represent his life choices.

The following, based on the above visual, is in-partial control.

  1. The Shark of worry
  2. The Mermaid of the temptations of wealth.
  3. The Cows of social giving and inheritance.

 

This control is Man’s prerogative to exercise some measure of choice.