Kyle Hill graduated from Northeastern State University with an accounting degree in 1992. After college, he spent 28 years in the oil and gas sector. The last 15 of which were in private equity funded exploration and production companies. He currently works for Willie George Ministries as the Controller of the organization. We asked him for some practical tips on maintaining financial and spiritual health. Here’s what he had to say.
Q: What’s your history with money like?
Really when I reflect on it, the American cultural idea of “success” was my heart idol.
When I first started claiming Christ and going to church it was because I wanted God to be my problem solver. I was essentially asking God to give me a little boost to get over the hump.
However, I discovered that the Lord was not content with leaving me in my surface level search satisfaction. He eventually made me dig deeper and surgically cut out those idols.
“GOD SHOWED ME I NEEDED TO GET SERIOUS ABOUT REMOVING PARTS OF MY HEART THAT WEREN’T RIGHT.”
My discovery came with a near death experience via a heart attack and a quadruple bypass. This experience (I don’t recommend waiting for something like it!) made me do some serious reflection.
God showed me I needed to get serious about removing parts of my heart that weren’t right.
The best way I could scripturally describe what happened to me is from Ezekiel 11:19, And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh.
“I HAD AN APOCALYPTIC EVENT.”
Apocalypse literally means“uncover or reveal” in Greek. I still work on my perspectives about financial matters every day, and would say that I had an apocalyptic event.
I am not here to tell you that money and being successful in your business endeavors is a bad thing.
However, I can say when I took a good thing (God blessed me with wealth and success), and I let that thing take hold of my heart and made it an “ultimate thing,” then I had an issue.
Q: You have talked about the concept of “budgeting as an image bearer.” What does that look like?
Budgeting as an image bearer is complicated because it is so different than what our culture wants us to think about when we are creating budgets.
Budgeting in general is extremely important and a practice we should all do, but budgeting as an image bearer is making sure we are focused on the things God wants for us.
Because we fell away from our Creator, we now have this overwhelming desire to have an image not grounded in anything beyond ourselves. We don’t know who we are, so now we are obsessed with our image; it has been this way since the Fall in Genesis 3.
“WE NEED TO CONSTANTLY ASK OURSELVES, WHOSE IMAGE ARE WE PROJECTING?”
However, in Genesis 1:27, we are shown who God wants us to be: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
When you look at how you are budgeting your personal finances are you taking a “God first” or a “Me first” outlook?
We need to constantly ask ourselves, “whose image are we projecting?” Let go of our need for control and see our finances just as God created us to view them: as a royal representative of our King.
We are here on this earth to steward and build His Kingdom and we should build our budgets and be generous with our time, resources, and attention with that in mind.
Q: What’s the first step someone should take when trying to improve their financial situation? (Say they have a lot of debt, or live paycheck to paycheck.)
If this is the situation you find yourself in, don’t feel like you are alone! In fact, a report published by Lending Club in March of 2022 showed that 64% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.
Here are some practical steps:
Hold on, it won’t be easy! However, if you are willing to look honestly at your own finances and seek first God’s kingdom and participate in God’s larger work of restoration, I think you will find money management as an image bearer is achievable.
- Connect money and relationships.Keep in mind that Jesus is making all things new, including our money and relationships. God has chosen to use our money to accomplish His work in the world.
- Make yourself a chart.List things that you value most in your life. Are the things you have on your list things that are building your kingdom or God’s Kingdom?
- Create a daily income and expense tracker.(Maybe use an app like Mint, YNAB or Every Dollar) and see how the tracker is lining up with things you value. Always include giving to others in your spending plan and make generosity a priority.
- Start working on eliminating or reducing expenses.Eliminate things that aren’t on your list of things you value most in your life. Try to eliminate one or two a week. If you can’t seem to get to a place where your income is more than your expenses – start evaluating your expenses. Are the expenses a want or a need?
- Start building your assets.
An asset is something God has entrusted to you that has value. Make a list of your assets. Now, take your list of assets and work on how you might better steward them and make goals around that stewardship.
Q: What are some ways people can avoid excessive debt?
- Make a budget and stick to it.An accurate account of spending is the best way to address debt problems.
- If you can’t pay cash, don’t buy it.That goes for every purchase, except a home. Having to pull money out of your pocket is an excellent way to avoid impulse purchases.
- Make a payment plan.If you have already accumulated debts and are making plans to pay them down, consider the interest rates of the debt in your pay off plans.
- Set realistic financial goals.Don’t expect to get out of debt overnight. It usually takes a 3–4 year plan to pay off all debts and establish a solid financial foundation. If you are considering a purchase that will require you to take on debt, ask yourself if this is “good debt”?
Q: How do you define “good debt”?
Good debt typically adds long-term value to your property. Mortgages are good not only because they provide necessary shelter but also because homes typically appreciate, adding to your net worth over time.
Good debt is defined by three factors:
- The money is used to purchase something that is a necessary part of your life.
- Repaying the debt does not blow up your budget because you can afford the monthly payments.
- You have a plan to repay the money in a reasonable amount of time.
Q: How do you maintain the right perspective regarding money?
Jesus desires to set us free from bondage. One of the greatest culprits of bondage is the false belief that MY needs are more important than the needs around me.
Here are some practical things we can do to keep the right perspective with our money:
- Tithe – your local church is the front line of growing God’s Kingdom, and our resources will help in that effort. Giving is an act of worship to our King. If you aren’t tithing now, try it and see what God does in your life to provide for you.
- Trust the Holy Spirit – Follow the Holy Spirit when you have been given grace for specific needs.
- Bless others – Dedicate a small part of your budget to an amount of money you will have with you each week/month so that you can bless people in impromptu situations. We are here to shine God’s light in the darkness.
- Seek ways to serve the less fortunate – get active in local outreaches. Find ways to use your gifts for others. God wants us to have personal engagement with those in need.
“YOU CAN BE WEALTHY AND POOR, AND YOU AN BE IN POVERTY AND BE RICH.”
An important thing for us to be aware of is you can be wealthy and be poor, and you can be in poverty and be rich.
The apostle Paul beautifully illustrates this in 2 Corinthians 8:1-5:
We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.
“GENEROSITY IS THE MEANS FOR LIBERATION”
We find freedom when we stop allowing ourselves to be controlled by the grips of “things.” The moment we realize God is the giver of all things, and not only that, but we can’t give anything apart from Him, a position of humility and new depth of character are formed.
Maintaining the right perspective about money is about having a mindset of grace and gratitude. We have a chance to play an active role in what God is doing here on earth! Let’s steward that gift.
Check out our blog all about stewardship: