During August, COMPASS is providing space and ideas for faith communities in engaging and planning stewardship for young adults starting in the fall. As part of that series, today we invite Adam Copeland, director for the Center for Stewardship Leaders at Luther Seminary to share some reflections.
Adam shares about “Money Meetings,” and reminds me of something my wife Allison and I do regularly with pancake breakfasts. In thinking about stewardship and young adults, faith communities have an opportunity to provide space for conversations, learning, and listening about tough and emotional topics, such as money. If you are helping lead or implement a stewardship plan with young adults in mind, engaging this is important. Adam’s thoughts and stories may be of benefit, particularly in providing examples of how it is important for young adults and their families to talk regularly and openly about money in their daily lives.
A few years ago now, I wrote a blog post titled, “The Totally Unromantic But Wholly Appropriate Symbol for Our Marriage.” In the post, I suggested that the best symbol for my marriage was not a wedding ring or a romantic poem, but our kitchen table. In part, I explained,
“Our kitchen table is where our marriage happens. OK, obviously, it happens elsewhere most of the time, but the kitchen table is the place where we make our marriage work well everywhere else. It’s where we talk pretty much every night — about our day, about our plans for the future, about our feelings, and struggles, and joys.”
I wrote that blog post four years ago, and now my wife and I have been married nearly nine years. I recently ran into a friend I hadn’t seen for years. After we exchanged greetings he said, “Hey, I want you to know I think about that blog post about your kitchen table a lot. It really meant something to me.”
It was a kind, touching remark for my old friend to make. But, truth be told, I had almost forgotten about the post. It’s funny what sticks in our memory—or doesn’t, as the case may be.
When Timothy asked me to write for the COMPASS blog this month, I thought about the table post again, wondering if I could re-use it for the series. When it comes to money, though, the story gets a bit more complicated.
In my marriage we have something we call “money meetings.” About once a month, my wife and I set aside time to go over our finances. We look at the past month’s expenses and plan for the next. We consider our long-term goals. We touch base about whether our spending is in line with our values.
It’s a very important part of our marriage, and I fully recommend something like this “money meeting” practice to others. To be honest, though, these meetings don’t often happen at the kitchen table.
Sometimes, they do, I suppose. It’s not like we completely avoid talking about money at the kitchen table. But, in the past few years, we’ve found other places to go for our money meetings. We need the separation. Plus, money meetings are hard!
Often, we’ll go to a coffee shop. Sometimes, we’ll catch a happy hour. Or, at times, we do have the meetings at home, but we set a timer and then, once it goes off, we go to our favorite ice cream shop.
My point is this: while our money meetings are good—you might even say, ‘essential’—to our relationship, they aren’t particularly fun. They’re easy to put off. It’s simple to sit at the kitchen table and chat about most everything else, but when it comes to money, the table takes on another feeling entirely.
And yet, those money meetings are necessary. They keep us honest, faithful, and communicative when it comes to money. Plus, how else would we have bought the table in the first place?
About the Author: Adam J. Copeland teaches at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he is director of the Center for Stewardship Leaders. Follow his learning and insights on his blog and via Twitter.
This blog is a component of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center’s COMPASS initiative to engage young adults in conversations about faith and finances. Like what you see and want to know/do more? Visit the COMPASS web page and join the COMPASS community on Facebook.