Issue No. 355 of Your Weekly Staff Meeting features three books about money, including one highlighting Jesus’ terrible financial advice! And check out my 2016 book-of-the-year and Top-10 picks here. Plus, this reminder: click here to check out my 20 management buckets (core competencies).
BOOK #1: People who write arresting book titles are worth their weight in…well, maybe, Amazon gift cards.
Bam! This issue’s lead book is my case in point: Jesus’ Terrible Financial Advice, by John Thornton. How can you not open this book and jump in?
Even though the author is a CPA, with a Ph.D. in accounting, and leads the School of Accounting at Azusa Pacific University, he confesses, “For over a dozen years, I stopped writing this book. I wanted to write with integrity, but I couldn’t get past some of the terrible, or terrifying, things Jesus said. Above all, the one verse I couldn’t get over was this:
‘No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and love the other. You cannot serve both God and money’ (Matt. 6:24).”
He shares his rationale for the intriguing book title:
“Terrible. Webster defines terrible as ‘strongly repulsive,’ but also ‘very shocking and upsetting,’ and ‘formidable in nature.’ The root word is terror, from which we get terrific, terrifying, and terrible. I invite you to listen to Jesus’ financial advice again, or for the first time, and see just how terrible it is.”
And with that context, Thornton crafts a brilliant and practical narrative of those hard sayings from Jesus that (ahem) we may prefer to ignore. After reading through the entire Bible, and highlighting every verse that addressed wealth, he began to categorize his list of 1,300 passages. It ran 115 typed pages (single-spaced,12-point font!).
The result: this lively and fairly short book, with lots of white space and call-outs, is perfectly balanced:
• Ph.D./accountant-type theological insights (fresh!)
• Laugh-out loud anecdotes and illustrations (funny!)
Describing their early marriage years: “I was a CPA and Alyssa was an actuary (they specialize in the mathematics of probability). According to the Wall Street Journal, accountants invented actuaries, so there would be someone more boring than themselves. So we were the original fun couple.”
I’ve already read a bunch of pages to my wife, Joanne (she’s very analytical, but not an actuary), and we both agree—this is one powerful, stop-you-in-your-tracks book. Examples:
• His discussion of the continuum between the “Prosperity Theology” movement and “Poverty Is Piety Theology.”
• On the Ten Commandments, he asks, “So what is God’s hang-up with idols?” His keeper response, “Like an insidious illusionist, an idol misdirects our attention to itself.”
In the chapter, “The Great Deception,” he offers a two-part test to discern if you are deceived. So on page 82 (it’s blank!), you can list up to 20 responses to “If money were no object, what would you buy?”
Then… “Put a checkmark next to the things on your list that you think God will never give you.”
Thornton’s punch-in-the-gut: “These are the areas where you are most vulnerable to being deceived and mastered by Money.”
Whew! There’s more…but I will stop writing now and start praying.
NEW! Zondervan 2017 Church and Nonprofit Tax & Financial Guide for 2016 Returns, by Dan Busby, Michael Martin, and John Van Drunen is now available. This annual update is a must for every CFO and finance committee. The “Recent Developments” section is a jam-packed 10 pages, including recent discussions (and push backs) on donor disclosure requirements, a new Form I-9, and the changes coming from the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB).
The “Latest Information on Health Care Issues” section (pages 77 to 84) includes five “Integrity Points,” (a helpful feature at the end of every chapter). Beware of possible ACA penalties! “Individuals and employers must be mindful of new tax penalties brought by changes in the health care laws. Non-compliance with the individual and employer mandates of the ACA can be costly!”
It’s thick (a good thing!) with 214 pages, but I’d suggest you read the last two pages first: “10 Biggest Tax and Financial Mistakes Made by Churches and Nonprofits,” and “10 Tax and Finance Questions Most Frequently Asked by Churches and Nonprofits.” Example: #4 on political activities: “Are the activities of our organization consistent with the political activity law?”
Order this today and avoid that deer-in-the-headlights look, “I don’t know what I don’t know!”
NEW! Zondervan 2017 Minister’s Tax & Financial Guide for 2016 Returns, by Busby, Martin, and Van Drunen is also ready for your favorite April 15 activity. Kudos to the co-authors for this 26th consecutive annual update and this noble objective: “Our goal is to help you minimize taxes while, at the same time, filing tax returns that will enable you to sleep at night.”
Church Board Member Alert! You will also sleep better at night knowing that this annual update is on the desk of your church’s CFO or business administrator. If your finance committee and team is relying on last year’s guess work—you’re in trouble. And maybe…BIG trouble. Oh, my.
As you’re preparing your own taxes this year, here’s an insight from Max De Pree: “Trust grows when people see leaders translate their personal integrity into organizational fidelity. At the heart of fidelity lies truth-telling and promise-keeping.”
That’s just one of 101 quotable quotes on trust from another book by co-author Dan Busby, Trust: The Firm Foundation for Kingdom Fruitfulness. Click here for the entire list of quotations on trust.
To order one or all of these books from Amazon, click on the titles:
[ ] Jesus’ Terrible Financial Advice: Flipping the Tables on Peace, Prosperity, and the Pursuit of Happiness, by John Thornton
[ ] Zondervan 2017 Church and Nonprofit Tax & Financial Guide for 2016 Returns, by Dan Busby, Michael Martin, and John Van Drunen
[ ] Zondervan 2017 Minister’s Tax & Financial Guide for 2016 Returns, by Dan Busby, Michael Martin, and John Van Drunen
Your Weekly Staff Meeting Questions:
1) “Occupy Wall Street” and other income inequality movements seem to get the media’s attention. According to John Thornton, “Most justice and fairness arguments are based on these two concepts: equality and equity.” What’s the difference—and what did Jesus teach about these two concepts?
2) Does your minister claim “office-in-the-home treatment” when filing taxes? It’s “rarely justified under present law,” according to the Zondervan 2017 Minister’s Tax & Financial Guide.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
“We Operate With Integrity” Insights from Mastering the Management Buckets: 20 Critical Competencies for Leading Your Business or Nonprofit
The core competency in the Budget Bucket, Chapter 15, in Mastering the Management Buckets, sets the bar high:
“We operate with integrity and are accountable for best practices in our financial management. We mentor our team members so they understand the financial implications of our programs. We monitor our progress monthly.”
What grade would you give your organization on integrity? For more resources, visit the Budget Bucket.
P.S. Read John’s recent blog on board governance, "Challenged With Measurable Work" from his 2017 series on Max De Pree's book, Called to Serve.
Your Weekly Staff Meeting is emailed free two to four times a month to subscribers, the frequency of which is based on an algorithm of book length, frequent flyer miles, and client deadlines. We do not accept any form of compensation from authors or publishers for book reviews. As a board member and raving fan of Christian Community Credit Union (a non-profit), we proudly list the credit union as a sponsor at no charge.