Today, I would like to address those serving in the early years of their ministry. Follow closely.

Baseball is a game made up of intricate movements. Those who watch a game on television never see ninety percent of the shifts and adjustments that affect the outcome. Those who attend games may observe only fifteen percent more. Fans are waiting for the game changing moment. They await the key strikeout, the three-run home run, the double steal attempt in the top of the ninth inning, or the incredible throw from deep right field that guns down the baserunner at the plate!

Spectators seldom notice the catcher prevent the errant pitch from becoming a runner advancing wild pitch. They admire the play made by the shortstop as they quickly move to their right, barely catch the ball in the webbing of the glove, quickly plant their right foot and throw on target from deep in the hole to first base, beating the batter by less than a step. Most take for granted the many times a second baseman fielded a groundball and made the seemingly routine toss to the first baseman.

Today, I would like to focus on the routine play. The ground ball in the bottom of the ninth that never required an infielder to shift more than one-half step. There was no bad bounce. If the play is made, the game ends and your team wins the World Series. The ground ball that is coming toward you today is purely routine. If you make the simple play, you can change your future forever!

This apparently unremarkable play is this – begin saving ten percent of your income for the future NOW.

Just as in the case of the infielder, there are many things that can go wrong. If the infielder somehow places the glove in the wrong position or does not get low enough and the ball slips through, the game could go to extra innings. For us – if we decide that saving now is less important than something we want, we can only hope we have extra innings in the future. If we are overly optimistic that we will begin saving next year, or the year after that, we may find ourselves looking back and wondering, “How much better would my life have been if I had just made the routine play?”

Follow this example. You are in your first ministry, and your income is $30,000 per year. This doesn’t seem like much, but the work you are doing is fulfilling. You are recently married. You do not yet have children but hope to have them in five to seven years. Saving $250 per month seems tough, but you decide to do what someone you trust advised you to do. How will your future play out if you make this routine play?

You begin by committing $125 per month into the Christian Churches Pension Plan. By beginning this year (assuming you are turning 25 this month), two units in the Pension Plan will provide $1600 per month in income at age 65 for your lifetime. Your spouse and children are protected with beneficiary rights. You are promised that you can have these funds deposited directly into your account for your use in the first day of the month after your 65th birthday. You reach 65, have kept the commitment, and the Plan is prepared to begin your pension payments.

You also decide to commit the other $125 per month in savings into an investment account. You have many choices open to you of actively managed mutual funds from a host of fund managers. You also can choose to invest in low cost Exchange Traded Funds (ETF) that track one or more indices of your choosing. The person you trust, advised you to choose an ETF following the S&P500, because it has averaged more than 9% annually over the past 90 years (Remember, that is not every year, because markets go up and down). You reach 65, and discover the market is down this year. Your investment account has averaged 8.5% for 40 years and is now valued at $508,000. You decide to begin withdrawing $1,693 per month (4% annually of the account value).

In this example, you fielded the routine ground ball. You have a beginning retirement income of $3,293 per month (30% more than your beginning salary). Your retirement income (if these are your only investments) has the potential of rising based upon historical S&P 500 returns. Your retirement years are yours now! You can continue serving in ministry because you want to, not because you have to. You can pursue your passions, because you made a wise choice when you were starting out in ministry! This is only an example; past performance does not guarantee future results.

Now, back to today. It is Monday, August 31, 2020. You are playing second base. It is the bottom of the ninth inning, and your team leads by 1 run. There are two outs, with a runner at third. The batter swings at your pitcher’s split fingered fast ball, just catching the top of the ball. It is a routine ground ball coming your way. Make the routine play!