From Cheap to Charitable

By Rev. Phillip Leo, Church Communications Director

Thrifty. Prepared. Suspicious. Cheap.

This is how I see myself when it comes to money. But wait, there’s more: apparently this is how others see me, too!

This snapshot of my dubious relationship with money comes to you courtesy of Money Habitude$. I used this personal assessment tool disguised as playing cards to assess my attitudes about money and accompanying habits.

Money Habitude$ posits six money paradigms: status, planning, carefree, giving, spontaneous and security. Let’s see… as someone who is thrifty, prepared, suspicious and cheap, I must have “security” as my primary habitude. No surprise there, right?

But as much as I disdain this descriptor, the truth is that it fits. Money helps me feel safe, secure and in control. Spun positively, this means I’m a saver and am able to achieve my financial goals. The downside? I can easily sacrifice activities and even relationships because of the cost.


Pain can be a good thing, though, and this assessment helps me change. Money Habitude$ gives practical suggestions for striking a personal balance when it comes to money. For example, what if I planned to spend money every month on a gift or activity, either for myself or someone else? How might my relationship with money begin to change?

Jesus aims for change, too. When he says to “seek first God’s Kingdom” (Matthew 6:33, NIV), it’s not a suggestion but an upside-down, world manifesto. Anybody can spend their days chasing whatever they can lay their hands on – and many people do!

But the mystery of the Kingdom is to possess everything by letting it all go. Fewer people aim to lay their hands on the treasure of God’s Kingdom!

Michael Rhodes and Robby Holt put it this way in Practicing the King’s Economy: “If we invest in the kingdom, our hearts will follow. Giving jams a spoke in the relentless wheel of our idolatry. Giving casts down money from the throne of our hearts. Through giving, God changes our hearts.”

For me, giving teaches trust. It shows me how to feel secure in God’s provision, instead of just “my” wealth. Giving is a way for me to live in the moment, instead of always preparing for the future. It’s a tangible way to demonstrate how loving God above all and my neighbor as myself matters more to me than money.

Giving is transformative because it’s a pathway towards Kingdom living. When giving captures your imagination, there’s no telling how your relationship with money or God might change.

Who knows? You might even go from cheap to charitable!

Barnabas Foundation is proud to be your partner in promoting financial literacy and generous giving at your church. Find articles, books, studies and more for your church under Tools and Resources. You can also email me at or call 888.448.3040.

Rev. Phillip Leo is the Church Communications Director at Barnabas Foundation. Read Phil’s online bio.