There is an old saying, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” If that is true, it has been a long time since I have worked because I love helping people find and follow Jesus. Each day brings new adventures and challenges. One of my roles at the church is to meet with people that find themselves in financial crisis. Every situation is different, and it’s always sad to see someone going through tough times. The help offered at Sunridge will vary based on the individual circumstance, but it typically involves helping them see their financial reality. Often, this can be an uncomfortable conversation, but one that really needs to happen. You might be surprised to know how few people make a budget, let alone follow their budget. Fortunately, the one-time financial help Sunridge offers through the Agape (our benevolence fund) is exactly what they needed to bridge a gap and get on their feet again. I love that God lets me be a part of helping those who are hurting. However, my unique vantage point allows me to see patterns that I want to share.
Living Beyond Your Means
It’s so easy to do. I’ve done it. You work hard, or at least you believe you work hard, so you think you deserve it. It can be anything from a pizza for dinner because you are too tired to cook, to getting your nails done, maybe it is a Callaway driver, all the way to a new truck to tow your boat. (Yes, that’s a real scenario I’ve encountered.) The problem is not buying these things; the problem is when you cannot afford to buy them, but buy them anyway. To be clear, finding the money for a down payment and making monthly payments does not mean you can afford it – when you can pay cash for it, then you can afford it. Debt is a thief that robs your future. Do not go down this path! Listen to the words of Jesus, “You’d better be on your guard against any type of greed, for a person’s life is not about having a lot of possessions.” Luke 12:15 The Voice.
Accuse and Excuse
Some people seem to get stuck in a pattern of losing or leaving their jobs over and over again. With each loss, they accuse their co-workers, their boss, the system, even the government for all the bad things happening to them. Do you see the pattern? It’s never their fault. When confronted with this pattern, the typical response is to generate excuses to validate their assertion. In the Gospel of John, chapter 5, we learn about a man who represents someone caught in this pattern. Starting in verse 2, we learn about a pool where many people who were sick would gather. The belief is the first person able to get into the pool when the waters stirred would be healed. Jesus came across a man who was waiting at these pools for 38 years and asked him, “Do you want to get well?” Instead of answering the direct question from Jesus, he started giving excuses, “I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred” and here’s the accusation, “someone else goes down ahead of me.” I love that Jesus heals this man; it is such a great picture of love, grace, and compassion.
To be clear, not everyone that needs financial assistance falls into these patterns. But, maybe it is worth asking yourself, are you falling into one of these patterns, and if so, do you want to be healed? Here are a few simple steps to take toward healing:
Create a Zero-Based Cash Flow Budget
The only way to know if you are spending beyond your means is to budget every time you get paid and assign every dollar to an expense. If you need help with this, you can read a prior blog post here.
Get Out Of Debt And Stay Out Of Debt
Once you have a budget set up, attack your debt from the smallest balance to the largest, using the debt snowball method. You can read more about that from Dave Ramsey’s website here.
About a year ago, I had the privilege of sharing my personal story of debt with the church. I used Hebrews 13:5 to talk about how to be content with what you have. You can watch that message here.
Your story is not over. You can take control of your finances; it is time to stop making excuses and accusing others for everything that has “happened” to you. As the Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians (4:11), we need to learn to be content in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in.