Being Responsible Stewards

David Broder is one of the few columnists that I believe tells it like it is – no matter how unpopular or brutal. He refuses to take a side in politics. Sometimes that infuriates Republicans, and sometimes that infuriates Democrats. That’s a sign that he’s probably a good and accurate reporter.

He recently wrote a column about our country’s financial mess: “Fiscal Ruin on the Horizon.” For years I’ve wondered how our government is able to function the way it does fiscally. Our government spends, spends, and spends, yet does nothing to increase income. I don’t believe in taxing and spending to death… but simply engaging in spending without taxing is worse.

The official Financial Report of the U.S. Government, of which Mr. Broder was able to secure a copy, shows that our accrual deficit (in other words, the U.S.'s credit card balance) is $760 billion. David Walker, the head of the GAO (the official bookkeeper for Congress), said that “amounts to $156,000 of debt for every man, woman and child in America. For a family, it’s like having a $750,000 mortgage — and no house.”

It was said that Everett Dirksen once uttered, “A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon, you're talking real money.” He was asked about that later in life, and he said, “Oh, I never said that. A newspaper fella misquoted me once, and I thought it sounded so good that I never bothered to deny it." It does sound good. Almost prophetic.

Why am I writing about this? Because our denomination, while on a smaller scale, is functioning in a similar fashion! When I went to General Conference as an alternate delegate in 2004, I was utterly shocked how we disregarded the recommendations of our General Council on Finance and Administration, when our treasurer said, “We have an infrastructure that we can no longer afford,” and yet the General Conference approved off-line expense after off-line expense – knowing that we would not be able to fund our budget. I can understand something as inefficient as the government to function this way, but it’s irresponsible for the Church to operate this way.

Most local churches are like families: they operate within a budget, and live within their means. I see how faithfully people give to the church, and how faithfully local churches seek to use that money. I must say that I'm proud of the church I serve and how faithful it is. My prayer is that our denomination, like our government, might be faithful with that which is given from faithful people.

I may be naïve… but hey, it’s Easter. We believe in resurrection!