As a young man, Howard Dayton had one objective: to become filthy rich.
But he began a mentorship with a group of local businessmen with their own hidden agenda: to influence the lost for Christ. And it worked! Through this mentorship, the course of Howard’s life changed dramatically. He soon began an in-depth study of what the Bible has to say about money and possessions.
“That year-long experience radically changed me and the lens through which I look at life,” he said. “I’ve been focused on teaching people about stewardship ever since.”
Howard’s definition of stewardship is not what you may hear from many other people or pastors. He believes stewardship is not just how you handle the tithe, but how you handle the other 90% of your income. Unfortunately, most people don’t know how to manage any of their money based on biblical principles. They must be trained and equipped.
That’s one of the reasons why Howard believes in the importance of a having a stewardship ministry within the church. As further evidence, he points to these three Scripture passages:
1. Matthew 28:18-20
“When Jesus gives the Great Commission, there are four ‘alls.’ One of those is to make disciples, ‘teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you,’” Howard said.
God’s word is clear. We are to teach them all that he told us. It’s like Jesus is saying, “I gave you 2,350 verses about money and possessions; 15% of everything I said has to do with money. You can disobey me and not teach about money because it’s uncomfortable to you, or you can obey and teach on money.” Howard is convinced the reason the Lord said so much about money is because He loves us and wants us to handle the money the smartest way.
2. Luke 3:11-14
“It’s really interesting to me in Luke 3 where John the Baptist warns of the coming judgment,” he said. Three different groups ask John what they must do to repent, and John answers each of them.
“Every single time, repentance had to do with money,” Howard said.
3. Matthew 6:24
Howard believes materialism is much deeper than we realize and has affected believers in a much more profound way. For him, the root lies in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (New International Version)
“Here’s the way I like to describe it: Every believer has had two basic decisions to make in their life. The first is found in Matthew 7:13: Am I going to take the broad way that leads to destruction or the small gate and the narrow road that leads to life?” he said.
“But there’s a second decision that they have to make: Will I serve money, or will I serve God? Unfortunately, I think that most Christians are taking the broad way and serving money without even realizing it.”
Materialism has become so widely accepted that it seems like the norm. It has caused people to take on debt and a higher standard of living than they can afford, probably because they didn’t know better. The loudest voices telling them how to handle money are marketers and credit card companies. Many of God's people want to be generous givers, but feel they can't because they are already living paycheck to paycheck.
The solution is to teach true, biblical stewardship—to change not just peoples’ behavior but their hearts through the power of Scripture. No age group, income level or demographic is exempt from this need.
Howard encourages all churches to offer year-round training, not only because it fulfills a biblical command, but because people desperately need to be encouraged to manage money God's way. Church members increase their giving as a natural byproduct of financial discipleship, not as an overall goal. Keeping this in perspective fosters a healthier church and a healthier congregation.
Dave Ramsey has created a program called Momentum to help bring people back to God’s view of money management and cultivate a culture of lasting generosity. Discover today how Momentum can help your congregation.
Howard has written four books, developed a small-group study and founded the international Crown Ministries in 1985. In 2000, Crown Ministries merged with Larry Burkett’s Christian Financial Concepts to become Crown Financial Ministries. Howard continued in his role at Crown until 2009 when he started a new ministry: Compass—Finances God’s Way.
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