I love Christmas, but hate December! From a business standpoint December is about finalizing last years’ books & reconciling accounts with hope for a fresh start in the New Year. Each December I find myself wishing that I had more set aside as resources to give to my family, my friends and my community. However, like most business owners, I struggle to simply work my way through the bills and set aside extra for the down season in January.
If you are a business owner or leader you may be able to relate to the pressures of financial contributions, holiday parties & additional expenses attacking your bottom line. If you are a faithful worker, you might be frustrated by the limited budget your company has to give to the causes you appreciate most. All of this pressure could be relieved if we simply apply the principles taught to us by God through the life of Joseph and his time serving Pharaoh (Gen. 39-41).
If you remember the story, Joseph spent his latter teen years until he was in his thirties in and out of sticky situations. He was sold into slavery by his brothers, purchased out of slavery by Pharaoh’s captain of the guard (Potiphar), put in charge of all of Potiphar’s possessions, wrongly accused of infidelity with Potiphar’s wife, thrown in jail, then retrieved from jail to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. Upon interpreting the dream, Joseph understood that a famine would follow bountiful times and God’s wisdom directed him to suggest a special savings program for Egypt.
Pharaoh, impressed by Joseph’s interpretation, put Joseph in charge of the kingdom’s resources. Under Joseph’s command, the Egyptian people saved up twenty-percent of their grain for future use. When the famine came, Pharaoh sold back grain to the Egyptians to make up the difference between what was being harvested and what was needed to feed families. The practical solution of setting aside resources during the good times is one we can implement in our companies today.
As the year comes to an end, it is time to revisit pricing, look at compensation and benefits packages, and set our budgets for the coming year. With all the moving parts in each company’s spending plan, now is the time to look at what can be set aside for the down times – or gifting time at the end of next year.
Looking at Joseph’s practical guidance, we see a great formula. If we structure our budgets to operate on only seventy percent of our gross income, we will have enough to tithe and save for special giving opportunities. As we expand this concept to include our office or warehouse space and our individual time, we see three simple ways our businesses can provide something special to the community.
Not only can we contribute more in cash, we can set aside office space to house a non-profit or other community groups. They can even use our buildings and other facilities in off hours or weekends. By learning to work in smaller spaces, the extra we have can truly bless someone else in the community. By using our space to give, we can reduce the financial burden on our businesses but still positively impact our communities for Christ.
In addition to facilities, we can support our employees and the company’s leadership in community service. For instance, businesses could establish a voluntary service project for the summer months and ask the employees to donate a portion of their vacation time for the work effort. As an added bonus, the business could even match the time with additional time off during the year or donate the financial savings toward materials or supplies. Being creative with our time and including these activities in the budget continue to demonstrate our understanding of God’s ownership of everything.
Imagine what could happen through your business if you simply budgeted your time, money and resources to relieve the stress of giving any time of year. In addition, imagine what you could do with the money that is set aside at the end of the year and what a blessing you could be for someone that doesn’t know Christ. Together we can budget unique ways to pour into our communities and reduce the stress that piles on at the end of the year.