Laura Petherbridge shares some helpful tips to help you find your way out of a financial crisis.
It all began with a bribe.
“If you will go to a Crown Ministries leadership training with me, we can stop at your friend Margaret’s house on the way, plus visit New York City,” my husband Steve pleaded.
“But I don’t want to drive 7 hours to attend something about money—that’s your topic. I hate the subject. Why do I have to go?” I sniped.
“Because I really want you to come with me. Plus it’s about Biblical principles—not money. If you would just read the material, I know you would love it,” He responded.
“I tithe—what more do I need to know?” I protested. “Besides I never ask you to get involved in the studies I enjoy. You have your ministry and I have mine. Let’s just leave it at that.”
He dropped the subject. “Whew!—I got out of that one,” I thought. But inside of me something didn’t feel right.
Later that week I finally closed my mouth and opened my heart long enough to hear God speak to my spirit. “You prayed for a Godly husband and I sent you one. He’s excited about this ministry and wants you to join him. Why are you giving him such a hard time?” Uh-oh.
Sometimes I don’t like it when God is right—which is always. I packed my bags, not knowing that this one act of obedience to God, and honor for my spouse, would change our lives forever.
We attended the training which launched us on a journey of teaching the Biblical view of finances. Steve was absolutely right. Once I read the material, I was transformed. It wasn’t boring at all, it was amazing. I had no idea God’s Word spoke so vastly and practically on the subject of money and possessions.
We spent our early years with Crown living by fund raising. This means you raise your salary, and pay your bills, through the faithfulness of God’s people giving to your ministry.
As we taught others about God’s way to handle money and possessions we implemented the principles into our own life. In 1996 we became completely debt free, including our home mortgage.
That doesn’t mean we never struggle. Like everyone else we are tempted to buy new things, and eat out too often. Sometimes I go on an unnecessary shopping spree. But for the most part we work at staying within God’s guidelines.
Here is some of what we learned.
1. Give God the First Fruit - The first check we write goes to God’s work regardless of our circumstances. This act of obedience confirms our belief that it all comes from Him.
2. View Giving as a Blessing not a Chore or Obligation - Our view of giving shifted from “one more bill” to an act of worship. This brings joy.
3. God is My Provider, Not People - Larry Burkett often spoke those words and I try to remember them. When I view my employer or anything else as my provider I’m giving that person or thing Lordship over my life.
4. A Budget Provides Freedom, Not Shackles - I previously viewed budgeting as a negative restriction until I realized it offered the knowledge of where I had money to spend, and where I didn’t. It will also reveal how much money you owe. Many people have NO IDEA how deeply in debt they are until it goes on paper.
5. We Viewed My Income as a Means to Pay Off Debt, Not Additional Money to Spend - A large reason why we are debt free is because we lived on Steve’s income alone and used my paycheck to pay off debt. This meant spending less money, but we learned how.
6. Don’t Buy What You Can’t Afford - We pay our credit cards in full every month. If we don’t have the money, we don’t buy the item.
7. Drive the Car Until it Dies - A difficult change for Steve was not buying a new car every few years. Typically, we now drive a car for at least 10 years.
8. Get Help with Investments and Financial Decisions – Steve does most of our investment work with a trusted financial advisor. An accountant or budget counselor may also provide insight.
9. Focus on Eternity not Earth - Once we accept that there is not a person, place or thing that can’t be gone in the next 30 seconds it should change our perspective. Steve and I try to live storing our treasures in heaven where they will last forever. Those treasures focus on people not possessions.
10. God Will Do His Part - When we do ours. He is faithful our job is obedience.
You may be facing a financial crisis right now. This could be due to a catastrophic event such as severe illness or a divorce. However, if your crisis is due to overspending or not preparing for life’s challenges the question becomes ARE YOU READY to do the hard work necessary to change the problem? If so, this is how to begin:
- Confess your sin. Acknowledge to God that you have not used His resources wisely. Admit that greed and a lust are the reasons.
- Repent and make a vow to stop overspending spending NOW. This may include closing an account or cutting up credit cards.
- Don’t view yourself as a victim. Blaming the government, your parents, your spouse, or anyone else it can keep you entrenched in the problem. Admit that you purchased things you couldn’t afford.
- Escape temptation- Determine your weak spots and discover places of temptation. This may mean avoiding the mall, or online/home shopping.
- Get Help- Seek someone who can help you budget. This should not be a person trying to sell you something. Bible studies that focus on finances are a great way to learn the steps.
- Honestly Evaluate Your Spending- This may include eating out less or canceling cable or a vacation. For those in serious financial difficulty selling your home, the car, boat, jewelry, TV, etc. may be the solution.
- Consider a second job- You may need more income.
- Be Patient- You didn’t get into this overnight, it’s probably not going to go away overnight.
- Pray- God always hears our prayers. However, His provision is always what we need, not necessarily what we want. Don’t panic, instead surrender, trust and obey. Your Savior has resources you never knew existed.
It’s your heart God is after, not your wallet. If the heart is fully surrendered to Him, the money and possessions soon follow.