Like a good family portrait, a well-developed Family Stewardship Philosophy captures a beautiful picture of how money has shaped your family ... and your future.
A Family Stewardship Philosophy is a written document (print or digital) that describes your beliefs about why your family has been able to acquire wealth, how much you should preserve, and how much should be given away.
The process of developing your Philosophy involves clarifying your family’s knowledge and core beliefs about money and expressing and examining them to bring them into alignment with the truth of God’s Word.
Before you can communicate what you believe to others, you need to have a clear understanding of what you actually believe yourself. Thus, developing a Family Stewardship Philosophy begins by examining and clarifying your core beliefs, feelings, and attitudes about wealth in light of Scripture.
- Write it out – It's often helpful to write out your thoughts in a journal or iPad. Record anything significant that God brings to mind. What did your parents teach you about money? What were your feelings about wealth growing up? Have your beliefs changed over time? Do you remember any people, stories, or events that had an impact on your view of money?
- Develop a mission statement – You may also want to draft one or more statements that express your core beliefs and values, as well as the vision, mission and purpose God has given you for your family’s wealth. This serves as a means of documenting your wealth-related goals and objectives, which paves the way for tangible discussion and interaction with your family.
As a steward, rather than an owner, your role in communicating is a humble one. Any family gathering to discuss finances is essentially a manager’s meeting. As the leader of your home, your job is to report on the owner’s wishes as you understand them, not your own. So you’ll really want to be listening to what other family members have to say as well.
- Foster communication, promote sharing – As you work through this communication step or the next one, you’ll likely find yourself going back to earlier steps for further clarification. And you'll find yourself strengthening relationships with the ones you love.
- Invite healthy conflict – Some families do not relish the thought of open dialogue about money for fear of conflict. But the potential for conflict is not reason enough to abandon this important task. In fact, conflict is often God’s way of getting our attention, bringing accountability, and correcting flawed perspectives. Often, the help of one or more strategic financial advisors is invaluable for resolving potential conflicts and keeping your discussion on track.
The true test of the work you put into the first two steps is what you actually do about it.
- Demonstrate your commitment – Printing out new confessions of faith or purpose statements is not enough. You need to demonstrate your commitment to God and your family by stepping out in faith and putting your beliefs into practice through giving. When your words and actions match, your legacy is both taught and “caught.”
- Commitment is the key – Without it, your beliefs are an empty promise that could drive your family apart. With it, your Family Stewardship Philosophy will become a source of wisdom and inspiration that brings your family closer to each other and to God for generations to come.
>> Get started with our helpful Family Conversation Guide
Photo credit: Rachel Iliadis