In my last two articles, I chronicled how we overcame some financial challenges, particularly with debt in the early years of ministry. A few more valuable lessons would be learned and we are still learning today.
The chief lesson we learned in our initial challenges was the importance of savings. Our ability to save has allowed us to meet our obligations and embark on special projects without putting enormous pressure on church members. We have also learned that it is through faith and patience that we inherit the promises of God like Abraham (Hebrews 6.12-14). What is not affordable today will become affordable someday. The temptation to embark on outreaches and projects because others are doing it must be resisted. Except God instructs very clearly that a project must be done, only what our regular cash flow can afford should be embarked upon. God is faithful and will back us up when we walk in obedience to His mandates. If He commands a project, He will fund it.
‘I am tired of this cycle of insufficiency’, Jumoke, my wife said one day and I concurred. Never one to complain about the price of serving God nor desirous of excessive comfort, I knew she wanted nothing but to be able to afford the basic necessities of life and take good care of our four beautiful but fast-growing kids. After prayer and soul searching, she opened a fashion boutique in Ibadan. This business brought relief to the family as it made us able to afford more holiday travels at home and abroad, increased our investments in stock, and provided a fallback when in need of quick intervention for unforeseen expenditures. We advise people today that a ‘side hustle’ might be the answer to their constant insufficiency, especially ministers of the gospel who cannot opt out of the call of God upon their lives. Taking up a secular job for a season or better still, engaging in business on the side, will bring a lot of relief to them. Those who have taken the advice have never regretted it. It is only important to organize our schedule in a way that would not make it a distraction. We shut it down when our family relocated to Lagos.
In his book Parable of Dollar, my older brother (who is also a pastor) taught from the parable of talents that poor managers of resources are always losing their resources to good managers. He opined and rightly so, that God loves order and where individuals and organizations bring order to their finances through planning, budgeting, savings, investments, and giving, God will multiply their resources. As we have endeavored to follow the above principles, we have seen consistent incremental progress. It may not be an exponential increase as you will see with a few ministries but definitely, consistent progress.
My wife and I relocated our family to Lagos in 2008, leaving over 1000 members in Ibadan for a 200-member church we had planted 3 years earlier. We were very convinced it was God’s plan and I remember our first major decision at the time was to cut down operational expenses and increase the capital savings from 20% to 40% of our income. In 6 months we had moved to a 500 seater hall which we outgrew in 4 years despite adding another service and the use of extra facilities. We were able to lease about an acre of land on a major road and erected a 1,000-seater tent and other facilities on it. Meanwhile, as the church in Ibadan continued in the same principles of order, the 1000 seater building we left which became grossly inadequate has been expanded to a 3000 seater. So also have we planted several more branches of our church over the years and had a few other branches owning their properties. Order truly brings an increase.
Several more things remain to be done in the vision God gave us but we know ‘Faithful is He who called us’, He will do them all as we continue to follow Him with faith and patience.