Money, Debt, Stewardship, and Your Family
Let’s face it. Money is a problem in families, and most of us do not have as much as we want. Families are often more focused on money problems than they would like to be. I think it is partly because of poor decision making and planning. Families with a huge weight of debt are families who struggle. In general, families who handle their money properly—whether or not they are rich, poor, or in-between—are much happier, healthier families.
The decisions we make as parents about our financial health often play a major factor in our family’s overall lifestyle. Jesus summarized it so well in the Sermon on the Mount: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21). A few sentences later in that most incredible sermon, he went on to challenge His listeners with these words, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money” (v.24). Isn’t it true that the amount of light that gets into any room depends on the state of the window through which the light must pass? With this in mind, the light that gets into our soul depends on our focus. For many, what we focus on is what we become.
Stewardship is a spiritual issue. Martin Luther is known to have said that a person cannot be truly converted unless his or her heart, mind, and pocketbook are converted. Here are some stewardship concepts that have helped Cathy and I to become more faithful stewards with the resources God has given our family. I hope they will help your family as well:
Spend Less Than You Make
Most families don’t spend less than they make. They incur debt and debt produces stress and often conflict in relationships.
A Budget is a Must
A budget is a map to help families stay on track with finances and stewardship. By following a budget, you are insuring financial health and that increases the chance of healthy families.
Debt is Slavery
Credit, interest and debt can quickly become poor stewardship. Here’s what the Bible says about debt, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” (Proverbs 22:7)
Delayed Gratification is the Answer
It takes discipline to delay a purchase but, in that discipline, families find the freedom from the burden of debt and stress. Again, the Bible says, “…Discipline yourself for the purpose of Godliness.” (1 Timothy 4:7 NASB)
Give 10 Percent and Save 10 Percent of Your Income
This may be an oversimplification, but I have never met a family who consistently given 10% to God and saved 10% who had major financial problems. If you aren’t living by this principle yet, start small and make it a goal.
Families who take their financial stewardship seriously live with less stress. The model they are providing for their children is a great road map for one of the major issues of conflict in families today.