Now, Then, Us, Them
I love the Olympics!  Every 4 years the world stops and focuses on the pinnacle of athletic ability.  In particular, I enjoy the track and field sprints with my favorite race being the 100m dash.  I find it interesting that all the runners have pretty much the same form when it comes to racing.  They all have the form of a winner.  And although winning with money is NOT a sprint (it is actually a marathon that biblically comes over years of making wise decisions), there is a lesson that can be learned from sprinters.

Have you ever noticed that at the sound of the gun, when each runner comes out of their starting block, their head is down?  Each runner is focused on their initial steps, driving as hard as they can to build up as much momentum as possible.  In short, they are focusing on the immediacy of the race; focused on the now!  If you are going to win with money, you have to focus on your current situation first!  I know so many people that have big hearts and want to help others financially, but you have to take care of you first.  You have to get yourself in position.  This is the same reason why the flight attendant says, “If you are traveling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask first, and then assist the other person.”  It’s not selfish, it’s prudent.  You want to be in a position of strength to help someone financially; otherwise, you run the risk of being in the same place as the person or people you are helping.

As the 100m runners are running, they begin to lift their head slowly as they tend to look at the ground they are about to conquer.  They look at their next few steps, in other words, their short-term goals.  What are your short term financial goals?  Do you want to pay off some of those credit cards?  Or do you have a savings goal?  What do you want to do within the next 5 years?  A good financial plan has small milestones that need to be celebrated and are used to measure progress toward the bigger goal.  Short term monetary goals allow you to fine tune your financial strategy as you enter full stride, but can only be addressed after your present situation is secured.

About 40-50 meters into the race, the runners have lifted their heads as they are now looking at the finish line.  They are at full stride and running with all their intensity.  Their form has held perfectly and their breathing is controlled, as they sprint toward their goal.  At this stage, financially, although you may have done everything right, you are the most efficient, effective, and are covering as much ground as possible.  Your short-term goals are flying by you as you gain full speed and the excitement of financial progress creates an intangible, but very real, momentum which allows you to press harder toward your goal even faster.  People are starting to notice there is something different about you.  And although they might not know the details of your finances, they realize that your financial mentality, spending habits, and money language is different.  You are a hitting on all cylinders!  But be careful, this is the worst time to get distracted and lose focus.

As the runners cross the finish line, they begin to coast and enjoy the fruits of their labor, training, and discipline.  They here the roar of the crowd and now their attention shifts from themselves to those around them; especially their family and friends that were cheering them on.  During the race, if you want to win, you must be focused to win.  But when you obtain financial peace, this is the time to be even more generous and you are strong enough to help others.

To win with money, you must have a plan for your finances and your plan should prioritize the immediate needs of your family first.  Then you can begin to look at your future, and as you prosper your capacity to help others will grow also.  But until that moment, you must say “no” to some things and some people.  Quoting Dave Ramsey, “Your financial focus should be Now, Then, Us, and [then] Them.”  The bible tells us that one who does not provide for his family has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel (1 Tim 5:8).  God takes the family first approach seriously.   So, don’t try to do too much too soon!  Remember building a legacy is not an overnight affair and it will require sacrifices.  The only question is, ‘are you willing to make the sacrifice long enough to win?’

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