Make All You Can, Save All You Can, and Give All You CanSep 09, 2022
“Make all you can, save all you can, and give all you can.” Are these words from John Wesley good words for entrepreneurially-minded pastors to live by? Let’s talk about it in this episode of the More Than a Pastor Show.
If you’ve been around the More Than a Pastor Show a while, you might know that I’ve been a pastor in The Wesleyan Church denomination for more than 20 years.
And while you don’t need to be a Wesleyan or Methodist to appreciate the wisdom and teaching of John Wesley, it wasn’t until I became a member of a Wesleyan Church in 1992 that I personally came to appreciate John and his brother Charles Wesley, and the significance of their contributions to the Big C Church through their evangelism, preaching, theology, and hymn writing, which spurred on the Wesleyan revivals and the Great Awakening in England, America, and beyond.
And one thing I was absolutely shocked to learn about John Wesley was that he had become a very wealthy pastor. Or perhaps I should say, his work had generated a great sum of money.
Wesley preached so widely and had become so well-known throughout England that his income through his preaching, the sale of his writings, and many social enterprises and businesses he started, would eventually rise to 1,400 pounds per year - about $190,000 USD per year today.
Over the course of his lifetime, his net worth, in today’s US dollars, would amount to $5.8 million dollars. But Wesley didn’t keep this wealth for himself. He’d given nearly all of it away as quickly as he earned it.
In his early years, teaching at Oxford University, he had an encounter with a poor, young woman who needed a winter coat. And he had nothing to give her because he had just purchased decorations for his home. And in that moment he resolved that he should live frugally and cap his lifestyle so he would have more to give. Over the years, his income grew, but his lifestyle essentially stayed the same.
One of his most famous sermons is entitled, “The Use of Money.” In it he shared three rules for stewardship: “Gain all you can, save all you can, and give all you can.”
This maxim has been paraphrased over the years into “Make all you can, save all you can, and give all you can” or “Earn all you can, save all you can, and give all you can.”
So are these three rules for stewardship good words for us to live by as pastors and entrepreneurs?
Let’s take a look at what each of them mean:
1. Make All You Can
Wesley believed that everything is God’s. And he felt that earning money, through diligent, honest work that benefited others was actually a way in which we participated with God in his redemptive work in the world. Through this work, God blesses us with money. But this blessing isn’t just for our benefit, but for the benefit of others as well. Wesley encouraged people to be diligent in their calling, to work hard (but not be given to overwork), and not waste the time and talents that God has given them.
2. Save All You Can
Wesley encouraged diligence and frugality, so that more of our income can be saved. But he wasn’t endorsing hoarding or keeping it all for ourselves. He called people to a simple lifestyle, so the money they saved could increasingly be given to help meet the needs of others.
3. Give All You Can
This third rule of Wesley’s gives meaning to the first two. We are to gain all we can and save all we can…why? So we can give all we can. When we give, we embody the nature and heart of God, which is generous love. Wesley himself committed to living as frugally as possible, and he set a cap on his living expenses, so that as his income increased, his standard of living did not. He just gave more away.
John Wesley was a pastor who ended up generating a lot of income through various enterprises
John Wesley wasn’t against people having money, nor did he think that money was evil. What mattered most was what people did with their money.
Questions for Reflection
1. Making All You Can…do you know how much you are capable of making? Has God given you a vision for how you can create more income for your family…and to give to bless and serve others? If so, what is it? I’d love to hear about it. You can share it in the more than a pastor FB group or send me an email at [email protected].
2. Saving All You Can - Have you identified any lifestyle goals for how much you feel God is calling you to live on?
3. Giving All You Can - Have you identified any giving goals…for the people and causes you care about?
Personally, I think these stewardship rules from John Wesley are a great reminder that money in itself isn’t evil. God owns it all to begin with. He gives you and me the opportunity to create with him, and our creative endeavors bring an increase, they produce wealth. And God gives us that wealth to not only meet our own needs, but to also help meet the needs of others.
Do you agree? Disagree? I’d love to hear your take on it! Share it in the More Than a Pastor Facebook community or send me an email at [email protected]
Well, that’s it for today’s show. Before we go, would you do me a favor and hit like, share, or subscribe if you haven’t already done so. Also, what topics would you like me to cover on a future episode? Please let me know at [email protected]
So what do I mean when I talk about pastors leveraging our ministry know-how into sustainable income outside the church? We’ll talk about that next time.
Until then, remember that you are more than a pastor. Saying yes to God’s call doesn’t mean you have to say yes to feeling stuck, broke, or unfulfilled in your life and ministry. Let’s work together to help you create the life, impact, and income you were made for.