I was 24 years old when I realized that I managed a million pesos. No, it wasn’t my money. It belonged to the United Methodist Youth Fellowship in the Philippines, of which I was the National President from 2006-2008.
That was a lot of money! My fellow officers and I joked that we could have gone to Jollibee for months and months!
But then again, it wasn’t our money.
We received several grants for projects that we wrote grant requests for. So for two years, we held meetings, we planned for events and programs, we wrote materials, we published guide books.
We even produced an album composed of 10 songs composed by young people. One was written by a pillar of Filipino Christian music, but the song was still for the youth of our organization.
I may have handled PhP 250,000 in cash. I withdrew the money from the organization’s bank account in Manila, put it in the deepest pocket of my backpack, and traveled 9 hours by bus to the venue of our conference. It probably helped that I didn’t look “rich” by any stretch. I probably looked like an ordinary, skinny young guy, who doesn’t have much to eat! Ha!
Looking back, a million pesos was a large sum of money for my younger self. The people around me were as passionate about the work we did. And we held each other accountable for how we managed ourselves and the money entrusted to our care.
To manage reporting, I kept careful track of expenses and receipts. I’m not exactly a spreadsheet ninja, but I’m still using the skills I learned from managing that million-peso budget.
I have managed bigger budgets since then. But as scriptures remind us: if we are faithful with the small things, we can be faithful in the bigger things.