When I was in my mid twenties, my life was defined by financial mistakes. So much so that it wreaked havoc on my personal life, my work, and especially my marriage. I was so busy gratifying the desires of my financial flesh that I never realized that instead of controlling my money, my money was controlling me. I was working a job for an amazing ministry, but it did not pay much. Meanwhile, my wife was working as a teacher making more money but still not a lot. We literally lived paycheck to paycheck often putting off paying bills until we could get one of our paychecks in the bank.
When I look back now, I realize how reckless I was. Anytime I wanted something, whether it was the latest tech or that new CD, I just bought it. If I couldn’t afford it, I charged it. I lived in what was, in my mind, a full-faith mode believing that because I was serving God he would take care of us. I did not realize that God actually called me to steward the money he entrusted me with, and I was not doing it well.
My recklessness was the single greatest stressor that ever entered my marriage. My wife was much more disciplined and organized when it came to finances, so she would carry the weight of our financial burden while I would “trust God to provide”. Then God got my attention.
One day while I was at a conference, I heard a young man who was a Compassion International child speak. He was from a small village in Africa and had been sponsored by a family since he was a little child. He received food, clothing, education, and more from Compassion and was now in the States studying in seminary to take the Gospel back to his village. His story overwhelmed me in a way that I could never have imagined. I have never felt God call me to do something more tremendously than in that moment.
I immediately went to the Compassion booth to find out how I could get involved. They told me for $34 per month I could sponsor my own child. My heart broke because I knew God was calling me to this but I could not afford even $34. I signed up anyway because I could not resist God’s calling. I called my wife that night and said, “I don’t know how we are going to pay for it, but God told me we needed to sponsor a child, and I signed us up.”
God used that moment to grab my heart and pull it to things of His Kingdom and not my kingdom. I realized that my recklessness with my finances was keeping me from doing all that God wanted me to do. I immediately went out and bought Dave Ramey’s “Total Money Makeover” and devoured it in three days. It was there that I realized that if I would budget my money and use it wisely, I could have enough to take care of my needs and even some of my wants and yet still allow me to be generous with the resources God had entrusted me even if they were small.
There was no moment where God delivered a package on my doorstep filled with money, although he always provided exactly what we needed. There was just a moment where I decided that the ability to control my money and not let it control me was more important than the latest tech or CD or whatever my eyes wanted. That was the change that allowed my family to become a generous giving family who no longer lived from pay check to pay check but had an abundance of resources – resources that, in truth, were never mine to begin with.
I love what David writes in Psalms 24:1. “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” Everything I have is God’s. I am just trying to be a good steward of what He has entrusted me with so that one day I might hear, as Jesus said in Matthew 25:21, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.”
So, if financial health is something you or your family struggles with, what can you do?
Listen with open ears as we go through the “Killing Money Myths” series. You will gain so much truth and wisdom.
Sign-up for Financial Peace University at brentwoodchurch.org/financial/
If you need somewhere to start, begin with a budget. Tell your money where it is going not the other way around. There are so many resources and apps out there from “Mint” to “Every Dollar” to “YNAB”.
Prioritize managing your finances so, when God calls you to give generously to His Kingdom, you can do so without hesitation.