The bottom line
by Victor Leslie, Major –
We who serve God in one of the most exciting but often complex and challenging areas of ministry—the world of finance and accounting—are almost always concerned about the bottom line. In our daily work, we have a core list of measurements that a chief financial officer would need in order to measure the financial health of a company effectively. Things like asset utilization, operating performance, cash flow, liquidity, capital structure, solvency, market performance and return on investments regularly shape our decisions, guide our actions and influence how we monitor our fiscal bottom line.
As we grapple with the practical aspects of our work, we tend to perceive things through our limited scope of knowledge. If we are not careful, we run the risk that our understanding of ministry soon becomes blurred and our perceptions morphed into a reality that forgets that The Salvation Army only has money so that it can fulfill the mission that God has given to it. Our work in the business arena must of necessity be focused on finance-based initiatives and accounting systems, but we must be careful to remember that everything we do must mirror a deeper purpose of showing the grace and love of God to all we serve—our bottom line.
Our bottom line must focus on the cross rather than the checkbook. Matthew 6:19-21 helps to align our vision with this bottom line. It says, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves. Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be.” We want our hearts and thoughts to know and share the truth of the gospel of Jesus. Unless we have a realistic and pure view of whose we are, any emphasis on what we do and what we have will be of no true value in extending the kingdom of God on earth.
Our bottom line must seek to find and support opportunities to identify and explore mission priorities that “rescue the perishing and care for the dying.” We truly want to see “Jesus lifted high, a banner that flies across this land, that all men might see the truth and know he is the way to heaven.” There should be no question in our heads or hearts that the strengthening of financial resources is inextricably tied to a mission-critical role of being frontline partners in helping others “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18)
Our bottom line can only be evaluated on efficiency standards that have no reference to an unqualified opinion in an audit. We want to explain and share the gospel that cements our code of ethics as Christian business people. Our principles of adequacy, conformity and consistency are not weighed in scales that reflect generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). They are held against the light of biblical standards that provide answers on how to know Jesus, how to tell others about Jesus and how to live for Jesus. God’s opinion on our witness as Christian stewards is the one that matters and is of lasting and immense value.
Our bottom line must encourage all to explore and take time regularly for reflection and meditation on the heart of life and the flame of passion that drives us to offer ourselves in service through The Salvation Army. We who serve in the forefront of financing the mission are tasked with one same goal and one same aim and that is to do the most good as spiritual stewards of the resources that fuel our mission.
So there we have it—the bottom line for our mission priorities. As we observe our financial reports with the eye of an eagle, may we also resolve to recognize, reinforce and celebrate our true bottom line to be witnesses for Jesus.