Guy Smith teaches Christians how to live more generously—all the while doing what God has called them to do—through his Cheerful Money blog and podcast.
Cheerful Money is about “creating financial margin so that you can give more generously and live more freely,” says Guy, who also is senior pastor at One Life Church in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.
“We all want to live these free lives,” he says. “We all want to be available to do whatever the Lord calls us to do. But how many people feel called to the mission field or feel called to ministry, and they look at the numbers and it just doesn’t work? That’s an awful place to be.”
Guy doesn’t claim to be a financial adviser but rather a pastor with a heart to show people money practices from God’s perspective.
“People are coming to pastors and churches for financial help,” Guy says.
Cheerful Money is decidedly Christian, and every tip from budgeting to saving relies on a Biblical foundation.
“I don’t think non-Christians will listen for very long,” Guy says. “They are welcome to, but I don’t think they will. It’s for anyone who wants to better align their personal finances with Scripture.”
Guy learned about generosity
Guy and his wife, Kinsley, practice what they preach, and much of what he teaches is based on his own experiences with money.
“I have discovered that, when I do money how God teaches me to do money, it is not burdensome,” Guy says. “Money becomes a blessing I can use to bless others.”
“Doing money God’s way” is based on Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University Baby Step 7: “building wealth and giving generously.” It was at a 2009 FPU class that Guy first connected with the idea that God loves a cheerful giver.
“The great misunderstanding is that we’re making money to get wealthy,” Guy says. “We’re doing this so we can be more generous.”
The Smiths had a chance to test the idea of cheerful giving at one point when planning a family vacation to Myrtle Beach with Kinsley’s family. Guy and Kinsley had already saved $400 toward the trip when they started feeling like God wanted them to give the money to someone who needed support for a short-term mission trip. They were also feeling pulled to keep the money for the trip, believing that family time was also important. Eventually they both decided God was directing them to give the money and trust Him with the vacation.
“Even though it was only $400, I drove from my house to the ATM to the church,” Guy says. “I could not wait to get that $400 out and hand it to the lady. It’s not a ton of money, but the bigger point is trusting God with something that was uncomfortable for us. That was really cheerfulness in giving.”
Finding his spiritual road
Growing up as the son of small-business owners, Guy’s interests and talents were in business, marketing, and advertising. He earned his degree in Global Marketing from Anderson University in Indiana in 2007. While there, he took a sports marketing class. One of his assignments was to sell tickets to Indiana Pacers games. He sold the second most, which earned him the opportunity to apply for an internship with the Pacers the following summer. Although he didn’t get the job, he realized something.
“I wasn’t so sure I wanted to sit in an office, even though it’s basketball tickets, and make a hundred phone calls every day selling this kind of stuff,” Guy says.
At the same time, he was enjoying opportunities to be involved with ministries such as Youth Works, and it became clear that God was steering him in a different direction—ministry.
Despite all that, after college he needed a job and moved back home to work for his dad in industrial sales and warehousing. But Guy was struggling spiritually.
While out riding his motorcycle one night, he hit a deer, totaled his bike, and spent the whole ride in the ambulance witnessing to those working on him. A few weeks later, his insurance company sent him a check covering the cost of the motorcycle. These two events were the turning points in his life. He realized he could spend the money replacing the bike or use it to pay off the debt he had accumulated. He chose the latter and used what he’d learned from Dave Ramsey to pay it off as quickly as possible.
That took him from merely understanding the mechanics of finances, he says, to a desire to know how God’s plan of stewardship can help Christians use money to build God’s kingdom.
It wasn’t long before he got back on solid footing. He met his wife through a shared interest in missions, and, just over a year into their dating, he was starting to get pulpit-supply opportunities at various churches. After they were married, he was offered a job pastoring a small start-up church in rural Pennsylvania. Because of their commitment to debt-free living, the Smiths were in a position to be able to take the 40 percent pay cut required to take the job. In addition, Kinsley was able to stay home with the two young children they had.
“We had to be careful, and it was tighter, but it was no big deal,” Guy says. “The question wasn’t, ‘Can we pay all our bills?’ It was, ‘Are we called to do this?’ We had no debt holding us back.”
'The freedom to be generous'
Despite the pay cut, Guy and Kinsley love the freedom to be generous with the money they do have.
“If I hear of someone in need or if I’m sending my Share and read down through the Special Prayer Needs, to be able to just click and shoot over $30 or whatever, that’s fun,” Guys says. “That’s why I went with ‘cheerful.’ People approach money with so much stress, always holding them back. So many people grow up where money is always a problem, always a stress point, always a money fight, always tearing apart marriages.”
Guy has been following “God’s way with money” for over seven years and credits it with being able to pay off $34,000 of debt, putting 30 percent down on a home, paying cash for two vehicles, and paying cash for his wife’s master’s degree. He desires to see other people live at peace with their money, live the life God has called them to, and, above all, live generously.
“God is the source of life and He is our greatest example of generosity,” Guy says.