I’ve been reading a wide variety of books in 2016, but none has impacted me quite as much as “The Soul of Money” by Lynne Twist. The book has so inspired me that I’m leading a monthly discussion with my church’s executive board, and I’ve shared the title with my congregation. Not only do I believe it has something to say to the local church, but I also think it speaks a powerful word to seminarians preparing to lead congregations and nonprofit agencies.
“virtually everything in our lives and every choice we make… is influenced by this thing called money.” (p.5)
“everyone is interested in money, and almost all of us feel a chronic concern, or even fear, that we will never really have enough…” (p.6)
Even attending seminary or choosing to follow a call from God is influenced by money. Students must somehow figure out how to pay for their education and how to manage financially while devoting some years to study. Central is concerned about educational debt levels and also financial stress among our students. Money, whether we like to admit it or not, plays a role in preparation for ministry. We’ve separated money matters and soul matters for too long, and it is time for a reunion.
“We often feel a nagging disconnect, the gap between the way we imagine life should be and the way we are living it.” (p.6)
“For most of us, this relationship with money is a deeply conflicted one, and our behavior with and around money is often at odds with our most deeply held values, commitments, and ideals – what I call our soul.” (p.11)
At seminary we prepare women and men for living out their purpose by seeking God, shaping church, and serving humanity. In forming students to live into God’s purpose and their own highest commitments, we must not neglect money matters. Instead, we ought to bring money out into the open and encourage our students to make financial decisions based on the soul goals they have for their lives. We can coach students as they strive to align their finances with their ideals. “The Soul of Money” suggests that when persons are able to align their core values with their money decisions they find genuine fulfillment and develop healthy relationships with their resources.
In a world that seemingly revolves around money, it is essential for seminaries like Central to encourage our students to deepen their soul relationships and bring those to bear on their financial relationships, creating new spiritual practice. If our students can find this meaning in their money lives, then our churches and nonprofits can develop money cultures that are both balanced and nurtured by soul.
Perhaps you, too, are interested in money as it relates to ministry. Check out the video library from Economics of Ministry $ummit held on Central’s campus last October!