Can Ministry Professionals Build Family Assets?

So in our Facebook group, in the Five Minute Father Facebook group, you guys can look for that if you want to jump in there. We had a great question from Rance, can ministry professionals build family assets? He says, “Hey, Jeff and Jeremy, my question is, is it possible to build a multi-generational family team while serving as a missionary whose only income comes through the donations of ministry partners? How would you encourage those who are called to this lifestyle to build assets and position their family for maximum kingdom effectiveness?”

Okay. So I do think not only is it possible, but it’s critical for ministry professionals to build family assets. I don’t think that anyone is exempt. It’s interesting. I had a conversation with one of my friends who’s a lifelong pastor, and he told me he’s like, he was thinking about himself as a type of Levitical priest. And he said, “The Levites didn’t have assets. The Levites didn’t have land. And so just like me, those of us who are called to ministry, we’re like Levites, we don’t have land, we don’t have assets.” But there are multiple chapters, there are several chapters in Joshua. There’s several chapters in the prophets and several chapters in the Torah that specifically outline all of the assets that the Levites actually owned.

So what we know is that they didn’t have a plot of land that was completely theirs. All the other 11 tribes actually had a plot of land together. The Levites had cities that were scattered throughout the other 11 tribes. And they were given all the land, the pastureland around those cities. And so every single Levitical family had assets and had land. They only served in the temple during seasons. It was a seasonal job the rest of the year, and the rest of their life when they weren’t in that very specific couple of decades where they served, they were working their land like every other person in Israel. So there really isn’t a precedent that I know of in the Bible for a father who can say, “I don’t need to think about this. I don’t think about longterm assets. Don’t need to think about that.”

That kind of thinking doesn’t really exist in the Bible. It exists big time today. And so this is a great question that Rance asks. And so what I would say you guys is that if you’re a ministry professional or a missionary, you really need to have a 20 to 30 year plan for what kind of investment assets are you going to build up? And you have to be incredibly disciplined about setting aside enough of that money so that every single month you’re building into whatever that investment is. So if you decide to invest in real estate, one of my friends whose parents were missionaries, they were very disciplined about buying a couple of houses. They bought a house every five years. And so after about 20 or 30 years in the mission field, they came home, they had about four or five houses that were all being rented out. They got a lot of support from their church community in terms of making sure these assets were protected. And they happened to have bought them in areas that had appreciated incredibly in value.

So when they retired, they actually retired really, really well off as missionaries. And they were always living very frugally, but they were very disciplined about this investment strategy that they stuck with. And so when the Lord called them away from that place, they ended up having, a couple more decades where they were no longer missionaries, but thank God they had been disciplined about building family assets. And then these family assets turned around and really blessed my friend and some generations that were downstream. So I don’t think that there is exemption from that, but Jeff, what are your, what are your thoughts on this?

Lots of thoughts. I was even talking about this with Alyssa, even given some of the Coronavirus scare and stuff like that. I want to say this sensitively, but one thing we have processed through is, because we were talking about, “Man, is it bad to hoard resources?” Right? And that was the word I think we were talking about using it. And I said, “No, we’re not hoarding resources. It’s like a storehouse so that we can feed people.” You know what I mean? And then, so in moments of crisis, you can lead better when you have assets. You can actually be a leader in moments of crisis or moments of when things are tough or the money’s pinched, because you then have resources to start deploying, right?

You get fed, you get fed, you get served, you get helped. And building assets puts you in that position. Not building assets tends to not put you in that position. And so that was one thing. I was like, “Man, I’m actually really humbled that we are sometimes in some positions where I’m like, okay, because we were trying to be shrewd enough with some of these and they’re multi-year projects. We worked really hard last couple of years and then we’d be like, oh, okay, we can try to step into this moment. And there’s moments where that’s not true. You take risks and it bombs or whatever. But then I would say that.

Another thing is too, developing this actually lets you do ministry better. Kind of like what I just alluded to that point. We pit them against each other, building assets versus being in ministry. You really want to do ministry? Build assets, because that’ll allow you to actually give more time and focus. Because here’s what really happens. The poetic dream is like, “Oh, I don’t need to build assets. The Lord will provide.” Amen. He will. But I think that’s just a weird conflation. What the reality is, oh my goodness, 90% of my day is spent stressing about what I’m going to eat or how I’m going to provide. So we have this poetic dream, but actually our day to day is just 75% of our energy is wasted. Not on people, not on serving them, not on loving them, but just crisis and stress. Right?

And the way you alleviate that is by actually allowing the Lord in his shrewdness to use you to build things that are not hoarded, but are actually deployed for other people, to serve and to love them. And you actually can free yourself up more to do ministry if you are wise, right? If you are wise with actually building infrastructures and systems. And so I think that’s a big, big difference.

I think that’s huge. I just remember that one of my buddies just came off the mission field about six months ago in order to spend a couple of years building assets to go back to the mission field. And he’s a really crushing it right now.

I love that, exactly.

Yeah. His goal is to go donation free, because his businesses, he’s got a real estate business, it’s growing really fast. So yeah, I think there’s ways to do this guys. I think we’re a lot of guys who are missionary or ministry-minded, and I was in ministry for about eight years and I actually didn’t want to think about money. I wanted to advocate this. I’m like, that area just feels messy, a little dirty, a little distracting. And unfortunately I gave into that. And I don’t think that that was Biblical. I think that it can be obviously a challenging thing to think about.

But it’s really important not to withdraw totally from the world when you’re a father. Maybe if you’re a single missionary, you don’t have a family. There’s an argument for that. I don’t think there’s a good argument if you’re a dad whose kids are growing up and you’re going to need to integrate with them as a team multi-generationally. I think that you have a lot of responsibilities there to think about money and to think about the-

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