|Hello, I’m…I’m Matt Johnson. |
I live in rural Minnesota with my wife Karen and our four children. I serve as President of our family business, Minntex Citrus. We provide fundraising opportunities to youth organizations through the sale of fresh fruit, delicious cheese, sausage, and nuts. Our business sells a lot of apples so people are often surprised to learn that I don’t care for apple pie.
I was blessed to have generosity modeled by my parents as I was growing up. From their example, I learned at an early age that money was about more than saving and consuming. In high school and college, I had already begun to support ministries beyond my local church. During those years, I lost some hard-earned money in earthly financial investments that went south. God used that to teach me that treasure stored on earth can be quickly destroyed. When Karen and I married after college, I was blessed to have her embrace a shared vision for generosity. Our vision has grown together as we’ve been challenged and encouraged by other eternally-minded believers.
God gave his only son on our behalf to restore our broken relationship with him. That act alone can serve as the definition for generosity, but then Romans 8:32 says, “He who did not spare his own son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” God is generous and he desires to bless us, just as any good parent wants what is best for their children. Jesus said: “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9-11) Raising our four children has helped me understand more of God’s generous heart toward us as his children.
Dangers of Wealth
Wealth has SO MUCH potential to distract us from eternity. Jesus tells us, “It is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:23) The danger is we’re so easily tempted to wrap our fingers around good things that God gives and say, “Mine.” Instead, we must learn to hold all of God’s gifts with the open hand of a steward. I am convinced that developing an eternal mindset is foundational to our spiritual growth. We must learn to set our “hearts and minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:1-3) An eternal mindset leads us to joyfully upgrade our earthly wealth for “treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:20)
Success, which is often measured by wealth, is enticing. Karen and I have been helped on our journey by biblical teaching that has challenged and encouraged us to fix our eyes on the greatest treasure — Jesus himself. This is an ongoing struggle so we need frequent reminders. We need to hear over and over of God’s generosity, our call to be like him, and the eternal rewards he promises to those who seek him (Hebrews 11:6). We value the message and ministry of Gospel Patrons because it has helped encourage us along this path.
I Wish I Knew
When I was 25, I wish I had a better understanding of the Gospel Patron concept. I felt called to the marketplace, and though I believed it was a valid role in God’s kingdom, I wasn’t aware of God’s consistent pattern of raising up patrons to partner with those on the front lines of ministry. This combined effort for kingdom work is a life-giving message to thoughtful believers who are called into business and other professions.
Daily time with the Lord each morning to read and memorize Scripture, journal, and prayer is essential for me. By God’s grace, I’ve been able to maintain this routine in some form through some very busy seasons of life. I have a timer app on my phone with designated times set for each discipline and have seen that consistency really opens the door to growth.
A couple of years ago, God gave us seven categories in which to steward the money he’s entrusted to us:
1. Meet Needs: It’s appropriate and necessary to use some of the resources God gives us to meet our own needs. If our child needs a winter coat, we’re going to buy one.
2. Chase Contentment: This category reminds us not to get caught up in chasing the treasures of this world. Paul learned the secret of being content in any circumstance and we want that be true of us.
3. Invest Relationally: Relationships matter to God. We want to invest in activities and experiences that grow God-honoring relationships.
4. Build Capacity: Resources wisely invested today can contribute to a fruitful harvest down the road. We invest in the growth of our business, not so we can have more later, but so we can give more.
5. Save Modestly: We believe that our saving should be modest. For us, aggressive saving will hinder our ability to participate in building God’s kingdom now and it probably would lead us to trust in the money in the bank rather than living by faith with an eternal perspective.
6. Engage Opportunity: Opportunities often come with a short-term cost. A few years ago, we had the chance to take our children on a mission trip. We could have simply given to the ministry, but being able to travel as a family and see what God is doing around the world was a unique opportunity we didn’t want to miss.
7. Give Generously: We begin with tithing, but as God blesses us financially, we want to give everything that remains back to him. Our desire is to focus on our eternal investment portfolio and leave the returns in God’s hands.
I want to bring glory to God by growing in my relationship with him and wisely stewarding the resources, challenges and opportunities he entrusts to me. My passion is to lead others to grow in their understanding and application of truth. The truth of the gospel is life changing and ought to touch every area of our lives. I desire that for those in my circle of influence so they can reach their potential for kingdom effectiveness to the glory of God.
Three words I would like to be remembered by are authentic, intentional, and godly.
*More Gospel Patron Journals just like this one are available on their website.
Matt’s story is such an encourage of the journey that he went through discovering God’s purposes for himself, his family and business. Many if not most of us have walked this road in one form or another. As a missionary, I still wrestle with the same kinds of things, taking faith steps, like the widow and her son in Isaiah’s story. She would daily drawing a little flour and olive oil from the jars, make some bread and give the meal to Isaiah, then feed her son and herself.
For you and me it can last weeks, even months until God brings the storm clouds to water the land. The faith of God’s provision I know, from nearly 45 years on ministry. It the daily decisions I make that have to a cumulative impact, or not...
What about you?