A MESSAGE FROM ISAAC PRESIDENT, DR. YOUNG LEE HERTIG:
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)
More than ever the power of money rules every sector of American society and yet discussing money matters remains taboo. Unfortunately, this collective silence is found in our seminary curricular and in our church life, despite Jesus’ connection of money to the gravitas of people’s hearts. Considering that the soil of ministry is the hearts of the people, and pastoral leadership also entails financial stewardship, breaking the eggshell of money matters is crucial, especially in the aftermath of 2008 economic meltdown.
Personally it wasn’t until my fifties that I began to overcome my discomfort about addressing financial matters. Eight years of leadership in a nonprofit organization has shown me how money matters take human relationships to a whole new dimension. For example, relationships take on a whole new dimension when the money issue is raised. Until one deals with money matters with another person, no matter how long the relationship has lasted, we don’t know that person’s heart. To make matters more complicated, our relationship with money is also shaped by culture and family scripts. One culture’s taboo is not another’s. In the early church, it was taboo not to reveal one’s financial assets; in the contemporary Christian scene, it is taboo to do so. Hence, until we deal with money matters with a circle of people, we don’t fully know those people no matter how many years of friendship we have invested. Indeed, as Jesus stated, money reveals where our hearts reside.
Having taught in a classroom where all the behind the scenes matters are taken care of, and having delegated household financial matters conveniently to my spouse, I honestly haven’t paid much attention to financial matters until I joined the world of running a nonprofit organization. Yes, I am a latecomer to this matter and therefore am passionate about one of the most important but silent issues that dictate all spheres of life.
The economic meltdown worsened an enormous income gap between our nation’s top 1% and the remaining 99% of American people. People are revealing their hearts through money matters more sharply than ever. All kinds of break ups—couples, friendships, and churches involve finances! Yet, addressing money matters is a taboo and therefore when it is addressed, we discover the hidden dark sides or generosity in people of which we were not aware of previously.
For these reasons, ISAAC’s 5th Symposium will devote the morning session to “Healing of Finances” (Saturday October 5), drawing the expertise of Christian leaders in the financial sectors. The objective of the morning session is to learn about financial systems and to balance taking and giving as Jesus emphasized numerous times in his teaching. More than ever we all need to increase our financial knowledge and the toolbox so that we may exercise healthy stewardship within our interdependent relationships of family, church, society and eco-systems that we rely on for our sustainability.