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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.

Christians and Money Series- Natural Applications 1 (Economics): Part 7

Introduction

This post 7 of the Christians and Money Series aims to explore economic aspects of natural applications to deal with wealth in-light of the realizations that have emerged over the last 6 posts. The flow of this post will be as follows

  1. The basic assumption section lays the foundation that underpins natural applications. These assumptions draw from the previous posts.
  1. The reality check section attempts to define the shared economic baseline from which self-examination can take place. This self-examination provides clarity regarding one’s financial reality and aspirations. (Item 1 and 2 in Post 7)
  1. The Minas’s parable (mentioned in post 6) reveals wealth stewardship and the shortcomings between social giving and active faith
  1. This section sacrifices the sacred cow of “Inheritance” by comparing it to RELATIONSHIPS’ focus and value. (Item 3 and 4 in Post 8)
  1. This section discusses the practical Issues of wealth stewardship and adopting the blend of the Wayside Ministry. (Item 5 in Post 9)
Economics of Wealth Stewardship Photo by Evangeline Shaw on Unsplash

As this post focuses on natural applications, the following sections would appear to offer financial advice, property purchase advice, and wealth management advice. This appearance is unfortunate and difficult to avoid. The natural application draws approaches from the secular domain to identify the metrics to quantify personal wealth situation and economic pursuits relative to the median baseline.

This post 7 is NOT offering any expert advice. Post 7 natural applications are similar to the post 6 goals, creating awareness and supporting new valued-perspectives while laying to rest old ones.

Natural Applications will be divided into 3 parts to promote readability by limiting the post word limit to around 2500 words or less. Post 7, Natural Application 1 will narrate items 1 and 2. Items 3 and 4 will be in post 8, Natural Application 2, while item 5 will be in post 9, Natural Application 3.

Basic Assumption

The natural applications of money could appear naïve to the casual reader. Therefore it is necessary to clarify the underlying assumption with the hope the reader can share this assumption.

Is Christian LOVE Laughable and Naïve? (Photo by Lidya Nada on Unsplash)

The assumption is to focus on and value God’s 7 appeals in post 4, summarized in one word, RELATIONSHIPS. Posts 5 and 6 expanded the meaning and significance of these RELATIONSHIPS. If the casual reader cannot assimilate these appeals, meaning, and importance as values, the reader will find the ideas floated in this post 7 as laughable and naïve.

The reason being is that these ideas make one vulnerable to be taken advantage of. This truth and fact are unavoidable. Jesus’ allowed Himself to be taken advantage of by humanity when He submitted to His Father’s will to die at the cross. Moreover, God the Father’s offer of Jesus has been rejected and scorned by many.

The world ridicules such naivety, which contradicts Peter in 1Pet2:19-23, who said suffering wrongfully while doing good is commendable before God because God the Father and Jesus have set Themselves an example for the believer to emulate. Notwithstanding this, God realizes the associated risks. There are two safeguards against these risks.

  1. Internally, believers need to entrust themselves to the hands of the faithful Creator, Father God, (1Pet4:19), the Shepherd (The Lord Jesus), and overseer of the soul, the Holy Spirit (1Pet2:25). This entrusting involves the triune God, shows the severity of the matter.

Entrusting requires the believers to be clear and convicted (Faith) of the hope of heaven as a goal-purpose (1Pet1:3, 1Co15) while pursuing a meaningful and significant relationship with God and Man as Family while on earth.

In such matters, God is the believer’s vengeance seeker (Rom12:19), defender and strength (Psa28:7), and source of honor (Rom10:11).

The Duality of Christian Conduct
  1. Externally, Jesus urged believers to be as wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Mat10:16). Rom16:19 offers Paul’s interpretation, “to be wise in what is good and simple concerning evil.” The Wayside Ministry section of Boundary Concerns will explore the understanding and clarity of what constitutes good to mediate the harm of being taken advantage of.

In summary, believers need to be ready to be taken advantage of and suffer wrongfully. Therefore, It requires one to trust God where faith, hope, and love are operating. Knowing about this “good” that one is doing is wisdom to navigate the treacherous terrain of the 2nd Commandment of loving one’s neighbor as yourself.

Reality Check

This section is somewhat technical. I encourage you to go thru this exercise as an attempt at honest self-examination. This exercise is more rigorous than the reality check of post 1.

SHARED ECONOMIC REALITY Photo by MAX LIBERTINE on Unsplash

This section clarifies the economic reality to create a shared economic baseline for the reader. Man’s economic reality is a by-product of man’s will (choice) and their environment (life circumstances of time and chance). The assumptions of the previous section anchor the reader as they progress along with this post. The following economic realities form the basis to develop the shared economic baseline.

  1. The median take-home income.
  2. The median cost of living.
  3. The poverty threshold to qualify for social aid.
  4. Affordable housing to accommodate a 4-6 person family size.

I am taking Singapore (location specific), where I reside, as an example to determine the 4 economic realities.

Four Measures of Economic Realities

The median take-home income

The individual median take-home income (2019) is $4,000.00. See link for data source- https://stats.mom.gov.sg/Pages/Singapore-Yearbook-Of-Manpower-Statistics-2020-Income-Earnings-and-Wages.aspx.

The median cost of living

Cost of Living Figures (2018)

The individual median cost of living, excluding rental and housing loans, is $1,200.00. The 4th quintile number is adopted to represent the average cost better. Notably, the 20th quintile is $50 less than the value of $650.00, below which one can qualify for social aid.

The cost of living was computed from the following link. https://www.moneyowl.com.sg/articles/how-much-do-i-need-to-retire-in-singapore-and-how-do-i-build-my-retirement-income-stream/.

The Poverty Threshold to Qualify for Social Aid

Social Aid

Singapore’s Ministry of Social and Family Development means-testing to qualify for social aid is not more than $650.00 per person and below $1,900.00 per household. See link- https://www.msf.gov.sg/Comcare/Pages/Public-Assistance.aspx

Affordable housing to accommodate a 4-6 person family size

Wiki developed the above data. See link –https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Median_multiple. It shows how to gauge whether housing cost is affordable or not.

HDB Flat Type and Average Price

About 80% of Singaporeans live in government-built flats call HDB flats. Private properties cost more than 5 times on a per square feet basis than HDB flats. See the link for the 80% statistics (https://data.gov.sg/dataset/estimated-resident-population-living-in-hdb-flats?resource_id=a7d9516f-b193-4f9b-8bbf-9c85a4c9b61b). The above data shows HDB flats cost is as per the link – https://blog.seedly.sg/what-type-of-hdb-flat-can-i-afford/

Four Economic Metrics to Form the Economic Baseline

Shared Economic Metrics

Based on the above data, one can develop the following 4 metrics to frame the property aspirations, wealth stage, and standard of living against the median baselines
Determine your living expenses multiplier per persona as a multiple of the median $1200.00 a month per person (average retiree living standard).

Note the $1,200 denominator excludes rental, mortgage, insurance, car loan/maintenance, and education. This value is for the retirement stage of life.

My multiplier W= 1.3 as it includes insurance. This measure quantifies how much beyond or below is one’s living standard relative to the median living standard of a retiree in Singapore. This value of 1.3 means I am living by 30% above the median living standard.

Determine your minimum living expenses multiplier per persona as a multiple of the minimum $650.00 a month per person (below which qualifies for social aid)

Note the $650 denominator excludes rental, mortgage, insurance, car loan/maintenance, and education. This number is the amount below which one qualifies for social aid.

My multiplier X= 2.4 as it includes insurance. This measure quantifies how much beyond or below is one’s living standard relative t the median living standard of a retiree in Singapore. This value of 2.4 means I am living by 140% above the minimum living standard.

Determine your selected house cost as a multiplier of the cheaper housing cost that can accommodate the same number of residents

The median household income of 2 persons, which gives a value of $8,000.00, is the denominator. Therefore, my Z=2.92. This Z value placed the property purchase within the affordable range of 3.0 and under.

Determine the Wealth Stage

Moats Approach

Wealth Stage, Z1 comprises of two values

  1. The 1st value, Z1-1, is the stage of wealth that ranges from 1 to 10.
  2. The 2nd value is the multiplier of, Z1-2

Determine your stage of wealth using the metric suggested by Investment Moats, reproduced above. See web-link. (https://investmentmoats.com/financial-independence/level-of-wealth-financial-freedom/)

Notes to the Table Above

  1. The 1st column from the left of the table above reveals the wealth stage.
  2. This post created the other 2 columns by applying the median standard of living baseline of between $1,200.00 to $1,500.00 per person per month. This table adopted a higher baseline for retirees due to higher health care costs.
  3. The computation of the wealth assets and cashflow is conservative as it does not account for income from government and insurance annuities.


Balanced Wealth Stage Approach

The balanced approach below adopts a total drawdown to exhaust the accumulated wealth within 30 years to contrast this relentless pursuit of wealth accumulation. To determine this drawdown rate, use the calculator from this link – https://www.noelwhittaker.com.au/resources/calculators/retirement-drawdown-calculator/.

Notes on Table:

  1. $550,000.00 as the retirement kitty is a very achievable target if employment income occurs at a median of $4,000.00 a month and both couples work till age 55-60 even after factoring education needs for the children assuming local university education.
  2. The median cost of living (3rd column) is used to derive the wealth stage median value (2nd column).

Z2 comprises of two values

  1. The 1st value, Z2-1, is the stage of wealth that ranges from 1 to 7.
  2. The 2nd value is the multiplier of Z2, Balanced Wealth Stage Multiplier, Z2-2

Z2-2 gives the excess or deficit of one’s Wealth Status baselined against the Balanced Wealth Approach as the median.

For example, if the net worth is $1,000,000.00 in investable wealth occurring at the stage of wealth, Z2-1=7, the multiplier, Z2-2= 1.8 times the 7th stage median value.

These numbers relate to individuals with the median or above earning capacity. The Wayside Ministry section will address this reality in-context of money stewardship for individuals with earning capabilities less than these numbers.

It is also timely to recall that previous posts established wealth addiction afflicts both the wealthy and the poor alike. It is not the amount of wealth or poverty, but at the heart of this addiction is the unresolved RELATIONSHIPS issues. It is Man’s heart condition.

Conclusion

Rich and Poor Shared Economic Realities and Economic Baselines

Economic realities are environmental forces that confront both the rich and the poor. However, personal decisions determine each person’s economic baselines. The picture above used anchors to represent economic baselines, and the boat represents each person’s life. These anchors offer stability, but it also prevents a person from moving on. These anchors can also weigh down the boat and contribute to the boat sinking in the most extreme circumstances of oversized anchor weight. The anchors are necessary, but Man needs the wisdom to determine the suitable anchor weight and number of anchors

Post 9 will offer perspectives to consider suitable anchor sizes and the number of anchors used in different life circumstances to illustrate natural application in action.